|Super 8 mm Success Stories|| |
Recording the beauty of life in Super 8 mm.
Paul Korver stumbled upon an old Super 8 mm camera while moving into an apartment in NYC and his passion for Super 8 mm filmmaking was reignited. The self-taught filmmaker eventually shot a wedding for a friend with his Super 8 mm camera and the result were so fantastic that Paul saw an opportunity to "reveal part of the reason the word "wedding video" had become synonymous with "cheese". Paul has revolutionized - or as he says "retro-lutionized" - wedding footage by using film, which we all agree, is more organic, human, and emotionally accessible than video. We appreciate the time Paul spent answering our questions about his life and craft.
Tell us about your background. Where were you born and raised?
How did you become interested in filmmaking?
My first movie experience was Herbie the Love Bug . A matinee at the mall with my parents. Star Wars changed my life. I also remember a big premiere of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes on a new channel called HBO. Scariest movie of my childhood? Disney's Watcher in the Woods , hands down.
Did you have any formal training in filmmaking? Did you have a mentor or has the work of other filmmakers inspired you? If so, who?
I got back into Super 8 mm when I moved to NY and I took over an apartment that had been abandoned by its previous owner. Part of the deal with the landlord was I had to clean out all the junk. Most of it was crap, but one thing I found in the rubble was a working Minolta Autopak-8. I put in some batteries and pulled the trigger and heard a sound I hadn't heard for 15 years. I was immediately transported to a more magical time of my life and my obsession with celluloid was rekindled.
You are the founder of Fifty Foot Films. What's the philosophy behind Fifty Foot Films and how/when did it begin?
In your web site you describe a "Retro-lution", What do you mean?
You must encounter some challenges when asking clients to spend more money to preserve their memories on film versus video, How have you handled these situations?
I've seen wedding footage from the 1930s that's been in a box in someone's attic after transfer and it looks gorgeous. Conversely my neighbor had his 20th wedding anniversary and pulled out the video shot in 1987. There was barely any image left on the tape. Much of it had turned clear. And that was after just 20 years.
Most of our clients who've seen themselves on film because we've shot their wedding or they used our director's pack, want to do it again and again. And a lot of these people are fairly wealthy and could have any video camera they want, but they've witnessed the beauty of film firsthand and are serious about preserving their family memories. To meet that demand we've started the Fifty Foot Films Club, which makes it easy for people to shoot film whenever they want. They get a fine-tuned Super 8 mm camera to keep and as much film as they need for each project. Then when each project is shot they send the film to us and we do all the post, delivering the final edited product both on DVD and also the reels of film in indexed, archival boxes for historical preservation. It's not cheap of course but still, people are lining up to join. After all, how much are these moments worth?
You've been featured in Brides and InStyle Magazines and the New York Times recently. What does it mean to you to have your work recognized?
Why do you choose to shoot your projects on Super 8 mm film? How does that decision fit in with your overall visual approach?
In terms of our visual approach, the beauty of film is that each format has it's own personality. We offer all film formats so our clients can choose what "look" resonates with them the most, so they get to take part in the creative process.
As far as Super 8 mm goes, we've just launched a more accessibly priced sister company called Paper Tape Films that is offering a 100% Super 8 mm product in 13 (and counting) local markets across the US and soon some in Europe. The web site is like a Super 8 mm tour of the US.
Tell us about Paper Tape Films and the concept behind it.
The idea with Paper Tape is to go back to our roots to make quality Super 8 mm films accessible to more people, while affording local filmmakers more opportunities to get paid good money to shoot film.
Last year a quick Google of Fifty Foot Films revealed blogs where brides were lamenting that they "loved this company Fifty Foot Films" but couldn't afford to fly them in to shoot their wedding. As an alternative, they were pointing their local videographers to our site to see if they could shoot some Super 8 mm or try to make video look like Super 8 mm using filters in post. We thought it was unfortunate that due to financial constraints these brides had to trust someone with a video background to shoot motion picture film under the stress and "one-take" pressure of a wedding. So there was clearly a need in the wedding market for experienced film shooters.
I was also willing to bet there were a lot of talented filmmakers out there that went to film school and were experienced with the manual art form of shooting motion picture cameras but who hadn't yet found many paying opportunities to work with the medium they loved. Instead they were shooting Beta for some EPK crew to raise money for their short. Or, bartending while writing their screenplay.
Our idea was that if we could train the local filmmakers to shoot weddings and pair them with brides who want Super 8 mm, then send the film back to Fifty Foot Films editing facility for post production, and do all this at a price that was competitive with high-end video, that everyone would win. And that's Paper Tape Films in a nutshell.
What postproduction path do you follow: What facility do you use for the transfer? Do you scan at HD or other resolution for the digital editing portion of your projects? On what system do you edit the films?
For Super 8 mm telecine we used to go with film-chain for reversal and get on a Rank for the neg. But after a while the hotspot from the film-chain started to bother me and I really wished we could afford to transfer everything on a Rank because it looks the best and with a DaVinci color corrector you can do so much with it creatively. The problem is Super 8 mm gates for a Rank are rare and very expensive so any place you go around Los Angeles charges more for Super 8 mm Rank transfer than what they charge for 16mm and even 35 mm transfer on the same machine. It's unfortunate because in the end it's the Super 8 mm filmmakers that lose out.
We'd love to create a co-op where small format filmmakers could have access to high-quality, Rank telecine at prices that were more accessible to students and people that are doing the more experimental films to which the Super 8 mm format lends itself so effortlessly. It's a big undertaking but once I set my mind to something, well we'll see what happens.
In terms of the higher resolution filmstocks like Super 16 mm and 35 mm, we have all that transferred at HD resolution (1080 23.98 psf) on a Spirit with Jonny McPheeters at Rushes here in Los Angeles. It's very expensive but Jonny is really talented and the image quality on a Spirit is ridiculous.
What is the process for choosing and using music in your edited projects? Are there licensing issues that you or the clients work through?
How has your work evolved over the course of your career? Have advancements in technology - for example, film stocks, lenses, camera mounts, etc. - changed the way you direct or shoot a project?
I'm into off-beat, low-tech cameras. One of my fave's is the Estes Cineroc because I used to launch Big Bertha rockets as a kid. It's basically a tiny, plastic Super 8 mm camera that runs off an AA battery and a rubber band mounted inside a Big Bertha rocket. We'll sometimes launch one at a wedding right when the bride and groom are pronounced married. They're coming back down the aisle and we get a great shot pulling away from the earth up to 500 ft. in the air. Very cool!
Lately I've really been liking Super 16 mm with an HD transfer. I can have all the resolution and 16 x 9 image but because it's 16mm I can still shoot the reversal filmstocks I love so much, which still leave a bit of grain and texture in the image, an organic quality I love. It's a great look for weddings (we just shot a huge wedding in France on a couple of Arri 416s) but I also like it for my more commercial endeavors. For instance, I just got a big break and got to shoot and direct a music video with Christina Aguilera. For the performance stuff we shot some over-cranked Super 16 mm Tri-X and it turned out really beautiful.
How do you market yourself and your films - Internet, MySpace, snail mail, etc?