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Attack of the 50-Foot Reels: The Last of the Kodachrome Super 8 Shorts

Attack of the 50-Foot Reels: The Last of the Kodachrome Super 8 Shorts

On December 30, 2010, the final death knell for Kodachrome Super 8 short filmmaking will ring. Filmmakers hoarding cartridges since Kodak discontinued the brand in 2005 have less than a month to get their film processed at the only remaining Kodachrome lab in the world, Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas, before its supply of chemicals runs out and its service is discontinued at the end of the year.

One group of filmmakers shot and processed their one-reel Kodachrome shorts at Dwayne’s Photo ahead of the year-end deadline in order to screen at Flicker Los Angeles’s 10th Annual Attack of the 50-Foot Reels, which will take place at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California on Thursday, December 9, 2010.

Billed as a Super 8 adieu to Kodachrome, the Egyptian screening will include one-reel shorts by Peyton Reed, John Schultz, John Cannizzaro, Kim Grisco, Chris Maness, Chris Wagganer, Andrea Richards, Lisa Marr & Paolo Davanzo, Bo Webb, and Norwood Cheek.

In addition to being one of the participating filmmakers, Norwood Cheek is the founder of Flicker Los Angeles, an independent filmmaking organization focused on giving Super 8 filmmakers an outlet and forum for their short films.

Cheek invited indieWIRE to attend the transfer process at Burbank’s Yale Film and Video, where the reels processed at Dwayne’s Photo were transferred to HD stock in preparation for December 9th screening at the 618-seat historical Hollywood movie palace. “The range of genres and subject matter that are covered in three minutes of Super 8 film is incredibly diverse,” proclaimed Cheek.

This year’s batch includes everything from an incredibly impressive single-shot multi-character costume epic to a delightfully vibrant celebration of the color red. Cheek praised the participating filmmakers for “truly pushing the boundaries of what can be done on one cartridge of Super 8 film, edited in-camera.”

Four filmmakers participating in the Attack of the 50-Foot Reels shared their thoughts about making their final Kodachrome short.

Kim Grisco: “This being the last year of Kodachrome was the main drive and inspiration for my film. I had a huge collection of Kodachrome slides from the 50-60’s that I found at garage sales. I would go through these gorgeous saturated slides and project them at events I had at my photography studio back in the 90’s. I have always had an admiration and love for Kodachrome. My trade is fashion photography, and my main creative part of shooting is using color to its full advantage and sometimes the theme in all my shots. Having a chance to film Kodachrome and seeing it on the ‘Big Screen’ is such a dream and feels unreal, to be a part of the Hollywood moment!”

Chris Maness: “I had planned on shooting some personal footage in Kodachrome before I found out about the topic of this year’s screening. This became the single impetus of my filmmaking this fall. It was a surprising amount of effort for a 3:20s film, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I am going to miss Kodachrome, but I am also happy the Kodak came out with Ektachrome100D in Super 8.”

A scene from Chris Maness’s short. [Photo courtesy of Flicker Los Angeles]

John Cannizzaro: “The end of Kodachrome has forced me to consider my future film projects in terms of a certain nostalgic order. All of a sudden I am looking to finish older films, ones that were set aside, those of a personal and poetic nature; and there is a real feeling of urgency to this work. I believe that the loss of this beautiful and memory evoking film stock is causing a longing, an attempt to hold onto the past. It is like losing a dear friend….sadness, a flood of memories, and trying to understand why.”

Peyton Reed: “My short is very literally an ode to Kodachrome. Because it’s the last roll I’ll ever shoot, I made it exactly the way I made my first Super 8
Kodachrome films when I was a kid in the late seventies – just me, a camera, one light and a bunch of inanimate objects. And like those movies, there’ll be some shots that are under-lit and some that are out of focus (particularly because I used an old, temperamental camera). But there’s still nothing like the look of Kodachrome. Digital ‘home movie’ software or an iPhone ‘Kodachrome’ app can try and approximate the look, but the image is not the same. And more importantly, the process of making that image is not the same.”

After the Attack of the 50-Foot Reel screening, mourning the death of Kodachrome continues in Los Angeles on December 11, 2010 with “R.I.P. Kodachrome: A Wake Screening” at the Echo Park Film Center Annex in Atwater Village. The event will showcase all Kodachrome small gauge film stocks along with eulogies from filmmakers, live music, and a pot-luck covered dish dinner.

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