This Ain’t California is a unique movie that straddles the line between documentary and narrative filmmaking. The project depicts the skateboard subculture in East Germany in the 1980s, which is presented as a manifestation of a yearning for freedom. In the film, skaters from the era — now approaching middle age — look back on that time wistfully. They saw skateboarding as a rebellious act, and a way of doing something completely nonproductive, just for fun, in a politicized society where such actions were not only frowned upon but actively repressed, and in extreme cases, could land you in prison.
One skater in particular is recalled by all as a catalyst for the scene. Identified at a young age as a gifted athlete, he is put into the East German training pipeline by a driven, competitive father, and by age 13 he is training 35 hours a week as a swimmer. Eventually he rebels, drops out, takes the street name Panik, and becomes a superlative skater who is constantly provoking confrontations with authority.
I Am ZoZo is an independent horror film inspired by accounts of real supernatural events. The story concerns a Ouija board experience that goes wrong on Halloween weekend and five young people who become the target of a malevolent spirit called ZoZo.
Writer-director-cinematographer Scott Di Lalla embarked on the making of I Am ZoZo with his One World Studios partner, Zack Coffman, who served as producer-editor. Di Lalla and Coffman had met at UCLA in the Tae Kwon Do club. Together, they fantasized about making movies. Then in 2004, they produced Choppertown, a cinema verite biker documentary that was embraced by the motorcycle community, went on to win festival awards, and launched a full-fledged distribution outfit.
Pearl Jam Twenty, Cameron Crowe’s retrospective of the rock group’s first two decades, debuts The Hollywood Reporter said that the film was “among his most effective and deeply felt work.” Crowe, an Oscar® winner for the screenplay of Almost Famous, blended archival footage and new interviews to tell the story of the band’s genesis in the Seattle grunge scene, its rocket to stardom, and its subsequent search for wisdom and balance.
The filmmaking team included cinematographer Nicola Marsh and editor Chris Perkel. Perkel says that the brain trust behind the film knew that format was a key decision.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a pivotal movie for the young Larry Fong. The movie stayed with him because it featured an ordinary man facing extraordinary circumstances, unlike fantasy epics like Star Wars that influenced many future filmmakers of his generation. “It was one of the few times where I felt really transported to that place,” Fong recalls.
Fong grew up to become a talented cinematographer. His latest assignment is director-writer J.J. Abrams’ Super 8. The film is executive produced by Close Encounters director Steven Spielberg. “Super 8 is clearly a nod to those science-fiction films of the 1970s,” says Fong. “It was an opportunity for me to try and emulate that feel, and that tone.”
A common anecdote among cinematographers is how the Super 8 films they shot during their youth put them on their career paths. Today, the way filmmakers use Super 8 film has evolved. Their passion for the format has grown, and the diverse uses of the film can been seen in hundreds of commercials, dozens of theatrical releases, as well as music videos and television shows. Film is also the only proven archival medium.
A new book, "The Power of Super 8 Film," takes readers on an 80-year journey through the history of the small-gauge format, which began as a visual storytelling medium for hobbyists during the dawn of the 1930s. Written by Phil Vigeant, the book cites an impressive array of contemporary cinematographers, directors, actors and musicians who have honed their artistic instincts shooting 8 mm films. These filmmakers are also inspiring the next generation of filmmakers to continue this practice.
Download as PDF