All Things Super 8 Film with Alex Glynn from Straight 8
By Emma Lloyd
Straight 8 x AW Instagram Live
What is Straight 8?
We challenge anyone anywhere to make a 3-minute short film with only a single roll of super 8 film. Everything is made in-camera, ‘editing’ only with each pull of the trigger. No retakes, no vfx, no grading – just raw filmmaking.
How do we enter the competition?
- Commit: go to straight8.net/2023, read the rules there and buy your entry.
- Get: activate your entry portal to get your unique ID number that must be included visually in the first shot of your film.
- Think: get your idea together. watch great past straight 8s for inspiration and to get a feel of what suits the format and what doesn’t.
- Plan: whether it’s a storyboard or simply pre-shooting a rough version of your idea on a phone - it’s helpful to have some structure in mind. you’ll also need a camera, film, cast, crew, and a celebratory drink ready for wrap.
- Shoot: the easy bit?? shoot your film in story order - and be ready to adapt to anything unexpected as there is no edit where you can snip bits out. try and wrap your film up by 3m10s, as you’ll normally run over and don’t want to lose your last shot.
- Send your film to Cinelab Film & Digital (who are just a couple miles from Analogue Wonderland!) by your film delivery deadline. they’ll work their magic on it while you…
- Compose: make an original soundtrack. nothing copyrighted, or it won’t count. other than that you can use anything you have to make it. digital / analogue / electro-kazoo / whatever.
- Breathe. Now just relax (if you can) while we process, scan and judge all the entries - then maybe we’ll see you in Cannes?
Describe why you love shooting movies on film
Could it be laziness?? Two takes then move-on is a tough level of discipline with near-infinite storage but it’s practically enforced when I shoot super 8 / 16mm. I find with too many go’s at something I sometimes get stuck on the micro-details on the screen and lose the bigger picture. With film I naturally spend a bit longer getting everything ready before pulling that trigger for the first time.
Film also just looks great. Every shot comes with a built-in look that carries decades of cinema history along with it. Pretty convenient...
dead funny directed by max mir, matthew poole, harry norton & kan trivedi | straight 8 2022 best 8 selection 🎥
What is your favourite Super 8 film or the film you would recommend to get started with?
They’re all great - but for me it’s still probably 50D. There’s something about the colours and the extra little bit of sharpness in it, particularly with the quality of scan that we get from Cinelab, that just feels really alive to me. But I think 200T is the best to get started with: it can handle anything from bright sun to a pretty dark room and still get good results.
Besides the competition, what other cool things does S8 do?
Get to a straight 8 cinema screening if you can - the best 20 films of straight 8 2022 are playing at London Short Film Festival on January 22nd, and we’ll be back for another run at selected Picturehouse cinemas later in the year. There’s nothing like seeing film frames the size of your fingernail blown up to cinema size.
We also hold free-to-attend monthly meetups on the (straight) 8th of every month. Drinks, chats and maybe a bit of creative inspiration.
Do you have a favourite ever entry to S8?
It’s a bit of a cop-out but no… I find myself thinking about different great straight 8s at different times: if i’ve read or seen something it might just trigger a memory of one that I love. That said, all the films in our straight8est hits compilations are incredible, and well worth trying to see at the cinema when we next show them!
Watch the 2022 Straight 8 Livestream Premiere above
We are all about keeping film alive, but the jump from still picture film to movie film can be intimidating! What advice would you give to someone wanting to start shooting movie film for the first time?
Just give it a go!! The hardest part is always the idea. Super 8 cameras are easier than 35mm stills cameras in a way, they’re all built for autoexposure so it’s a viable option in most circumstances. There isn’t much that I find trickier on super 8 than on my stills cameras. The main thing that takes a bit of getting used to are the smaller, darker viewfinders. You just need to zoom all the way in before focusing your shot, and then zoom out and recompose.
But it’s the idea that’s the tricky bit - when you get a good one of those, the rest always comes together.
Where would you recommend to pick up a super 8 camera? Is there anything in particular to look out for, especially if it is your first movie camera?
Super 8 cameras aren’t hard to find, but you’ll usually have to pay a bit more for one that’s tested and guaranteed. There are hundreds of models - some with more features than others - but anything operational by Canon, Braun, Beaulieu, Nikon will be a safe bet. However, if you see a model you like the look of for a good price, take the gamble! One of the great things about super 8 is that you can put the film in a camera, shoot 20 seconds of it, and then put it in another, so you can test a few cameras with a single roll.
If you’re out hunting for super 8 cameras at a charity shop or flea market, there are a few things to look out for: check the lens looks clean without fungus or scratches; open the battery compartment and see if it’s clear of corrosion (or pop some batteries in and test it out); look through the viewfinder and check you can see through the lens!
Alternatively, you probably already know someone who has one and can show you how to use it.
(c) @mandyleft, Emma with her first Super 8 Camera on the last #sheheartsfilm walk
Have you seen many major disasters from s8 entries in the past? What tips would you give to someone entering for the first time, or things to watch out for?
Well I’ve made plenty of crap ones!! Occasionally someone has a camera malfunction and their whole film turns out black or with massive focus issues. It doesn’t happen often though - and there are things you can do to check the camera is running properly.
It’s always great when people have the confidence to really go with their gut. That’s the main tip: make a ‘thing’ with some sort of idea behind it. It doesn’t matter if it’s ridiculous, serious, personal, artistic, as abstract or as realist as you like - but it needs to have something.
(c) Straight 8, nizo 801 macro camera
Do you have any other resources you can recommend to learn about shooting movie film?
There are loads - we’ve made a big cheat sheet with a load of super 8 tips, super8wiki has the specs for pretty much every super 8 camera, and super 8 communities on social media are always helpful.
Feel free to ask us if you have any questions. We’re at @straight_8_ on Instagram or have a contact form here.
Enter Straight 8 with exclusive Analogue Wonderland Discount
Thank you so much to Alex for all the juicy Straight 8 deets! I hope some of you are feeling excited to take the plunge into the world of movie film. There is still time to enter into Straight 8 2023, and we have kindly been given a discount to entry from our friends at S8. Use the code AW10 at checkout for 10% off the entry fees.
I cannot wait to see what 2023 brings to the competition, and hope I am brave enough to enter myself this year. In the meantime, best of luck to anyone entering, have fun and happy shooting!
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