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Project of the Day: A Real Life ‘Hugo’ Story

Project of the Day: A Real Life 'Hugo' Story

Here's your daily dose of an indie film in progress; at the end of the week, you'll have the chance to vote for your favorite.

In the meantime: Is this a movie you’d want to see? Tell us in the comments.

The Jacques Bolsey Project

Tweetable Logline:

50 years after his death, Bolex inventor and film pioneer, Jacques Bolsey, has been forgotten along with an important piece of film history.

Elevator Pitch:

This documentary is a real life "Hugo" story. In 2004, a film student stumbles upon some boxes that had belonged to her great-grandfather and had been sitting in the basement for decades since his sudden death. She discovers that he was the inventor of the Bolex camera, one of the most iconic cameras of all time. Who was this forgotten man, with hundreds of inventions, three last names and an archive of drawings and plans? A story of a Renaissance man who was trying to shape the world to his vision in a bitter fight against his own mortality.

Production Team:

Director: Alyssa Bolsey
Producers: Camilo Lara Jr., Werner Schweizer
Cinematographer: Ángel Granados

About the Production:

"Jacques Bogopolsky/Boolsky/Bolsey wanted everyone to make movies and to record memories or create a reality of their own. Today, we record our lives on computers, video and social networking, all manipulated and representing a calculated picture of our existence. Truth is obscured.

"Was my great-grandfather's truth obscured? In his boxes I have the memories he recorded and the words he wished to be known by. It is a legacy of a pioneer in moviemaking, a legacy of his own creation. A life of creation film caught on film. What are the details he didn't choose to record?" — Alyssa Bolsey

Current Status:

In pre-production.

For more information and to support the film:

Film Website
IndieGoGo Page


If you have an in-the-works project and you'd like to be profiled in an upcoming iW Project of the Day column, submit yourself by filling out this form!

This Article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit and tagged


Destenee Mckenzie

Good luck, I hope you win!!!


I'll take the pictures of the cameras this weekend when the light is better and I have a few spare minutes.

Here's another suggestion potentially worth exploring, which I'd mentioned to your dad last night. The sole US importer of Alpa cameras (including Swiss made Bolseys) and other European fine quality cameras like Robot, the Tessina spy camera and a few other items was Karl Heitz. I met him on my visits to their office in New York (first in Manhattan then Woodside, Queens) in the 1970s and 80s. He died in 2005 at 90 and the last of the business was dissolved. I remember he had a few Bolexes lying around the shop. He must have known Jacques very well through the years but I have no idea of the nature of their relationship. Maybe there is an interesting twist there somewhere? Good luck with a new hunt!


Hi Alyssa,

I will send you pictures of my old Swiss Bolsey Reflex, hopefully this evening.

All of the Antarctic pictures posted on my (very out of date) website ( were taken with a 1964 Alpa 9d and a 1972 Alpa 10d. Both are later generations of Alpa after Pinions took over the design, but elements of the original Bolsey/Alpas were retained. You can look up Alpa history on line.

Michael G

This totally rocks! As an inventor myself, I know how easy it is for those who bring great things to the world to be forgotten. The story of JB needs to be told. Can't wait to see it!

Carol deCamp

You are doing a terrific job on this; your great-grandfather is a fascinating subject. I can't wait to see the finished project.

Nina Benedetto

As a visual artist and photographer who is still learning how to use a simple digital video camera effectively, I am in awe of the amazing technical innovations which are shown in the overview of the history of Jacques' work to create his Bolex camera. This preview is so tantalizing- I want to know the whole story! Best of luck as you go forward to completion!
You definitely have MY vote, Alyssa!

Alvie Rosen

This would be a wonderful pick for the month. We are losing so much to today's quick, instant technology. Memories of these kind need to be recorded for history.

Twig Johnson

Wonderful project. Not only a great personal story but important to our understanding of the history of film, film technology, and of the international/intercultural dimension of this history. And plenty of drama to boot. Go, go, go!

Christopher (Chris) Swider

This is a great project. I used the Bolex H16 Rex for years. I shot miles of film through it. It was a wonderful machine and I still own one. Foolishly I sold the H8 I had when I was twenty

Stefan Krusze

Forgot to mention that have a Bolsey B2 that was made for the US Air Force.

Lee Martin (Movie Cameras Inc) England

I have watched the teaser for this project with great fascination. It has such great potential being that it's real: a real story about great a man with an even greater vision. Let's all get behind Alyssa on this one. Yoo got my votes :) LM


I have one of the very early Swiss made Bolsey Reflex cameras in my collection! Made in 1943, as well as 2 US made Bolseys, which take great pictures.

Andrew P

Let's see this happen! I would definitely want to watch it.

Reed Scherer

Hi Alyssa,

I met your dad in Antarctica in 1991, on the ice streams. He saw that I was shooting with Alpa cameras (have been for pushing 40 years) and we've been friends and colleagues ever since. I can't wait to see your project come to full fruition! You've got my vote.

My nephew, Joey Vigour, has a film on another inventor entirely. His film (The Inventor and the Daredevil) See to learn about that project. He's also done videography on our current Antarctic project, so there are all kinds of connections. I've suggested to him that he check out your site (and vote for you).

Good luck!



My grandfather was a financial partner with Jack. I've taken thousands of photos with the Bolsey C-22 35 mm camera–a very fine camera, indeed. I would very much like to see this documentary come to fruition.


Can't wait to see the finshed project!

Alyssa Bolsey

Thank you so much everyone for your comments. It makes me so happy to see the enthusiasm behind this documentary. Please make sure to vote for us for Indiewire's "Project of the Week."

Lukas Persson

This looks so incredibly fascinating, can't wait to see this in completion.


I wanna see it already! "Hugo" was awesome, but the docs are ALWAYS better. Especially tortured genius docs. 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould. Case in point.

To Alyssa Bolsey- not to say that your great grandfather was a tortured genius, just genius/artist type that makes for my favorite films– in fact I hope that when this film comes out I will learn that he had a very happy life. Best of luck to you and can't wait to see the film. :-)

S O Dwyer

I love nothing more than a good documentary and I've always been surprised that there's so little out about Bolsey… this sounds fascinating, especially considering the filmmaker is his great-granddaughter… what a perfect alignment of elements!

Jacques MAR

Great idea. Jacques Bolsey's work is worth being known around even further.
All for it, from someone living where Bolsey did much of his successful career.
Looking forward watching this picture !

Richard Sanford

I wrote the first book on the Bolsey Collectors Guide in 1977 and met with Mr. Bolsey's Widow, Maria, and his daughter Carole at my home on Cape Cod. I had been to her home in Rye, New York shortly after I wrote the book. I have since updated the book and added more cameras and info and it is for sale on Ebay. I have been trying to help with this project and hope to live long enough to see it completed.


What an intriguing story… I can't wait to see the finished product!


Used the Bolex years ago, interested to see the story behind the man who created such an innovative camera.

David S.

This is gonna be awesome can't wait!

Annagreta Claesson

I both read the book and saw the movie "Hugo" and the similiarities to this project are uncanny. I'm looking forward to learning more about Jacques Bolsey and his part in early amateur filmmaking.

Rich J

After working on Bolexes for 30 years I would be very interested in knowing more about the man behind the machine.

JB Project Team

Thank you everyone for the support! Please "like" the article, leave comments and check out the development teaser! http:/&#x2F


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