Straight 8, the experience.

My Sankyo EM30XL plus iphone.
My Sankyo EM30XL plus iphone.

Yesterday I put my Straight8 film in the post, uploaded the sound file and so completed the project. Now all I have to do is wait to see if, among other things, the camera worked properly and my timings are vaguely as I expected them to be.

For those who may not be aware of the Straight8 film competition, the rules are; shoot one roll of super 8 film to make your movie, edit in camera and put together your soundtrack (without seeing the finished film).  This means a lot of planning – when I shoot video it’s mostly to a fairly open brief and I pretty much think on my feet – with only a loose (changeable) plan in my head. So for me this turned out to be a lot harder than I had anticipated – not helped by the fact that I chose an idea for my film which was subject to changes on the day.

I storyboarded as best I could and wrote down anticipated timings for shots. The day before the shoot I realised that small delays between me pressing the button on the camera and starting/stopping the stopwatch on the iphone could mean over a 10% difference between the two! That would be quite crucial in a film 200 seconds long. That’s why the iphone is taped to the top of the camera – anything to make the timing as easy as possible.

On the day I had to time every shot and then write the time on the storyboard and keep a running total and try to keep to the planned shots. Add to that the fact that I forgot to use the stopwatch for 3 or 4 shots meant that by about two minutes in I had lost track of how much film I had left. The film counter on the camera being fairly vague, so I couldn’t rely on that.

There’s not the luxury of editing the film afterwards, no retakes, any mistakes are locked in for good. Afterwards all thoughts of ‘if only’ are pointless.

Why did I do it? Well I hadn’t used an 8mm camera for many years but love shooting film (as stills) so here was an opportunity to shoot film, go back to basics and well, test myself. Whether my film is good or bad, its an experience I can take back into my working life and improve it.

Will I do it again – I can’t wait. It’s like coming off a scary fairground ride and then immediately wanting to get back on again.


9 thoughts on “Straight 8, the experience.

  • Hi! I just bought this type of camera. Do you know if the newer 8mm film can be used for this camera? Thank you!.

  • Hi, I haven’t bought any of the new Kodak Super 8 stock yet but as far as I am aware the new Kodak Super 8 film is still in the traditional Super 8 container and so will work in all cameras which use Super 8.
    I get my film from the Widescreen Centre, all of the Super 8 film they sell will work in any Super 8 camera. You can drop in and have a chat with them if you are near London or they offer a postal service. Have a look at the link here.
    Hope that helps!

    • Hi, I’m inexperienced with Super 8 cameras. I just got this camera in the mail but I can’t see anything through the little lens. Do you know if I’m doing something wrong?

  • Well, without seeing the camera its impossible to say what might be happening. If you have bought a Sankyo EM30XL and you can’t see anything through the viewfinder then there is something wrong with the camera and you should return it. Although the viewfinders on some old Super 8 cameras are quite small and if you don’t have your eye right in the centre then sometimes it can be difficult to see.

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