Before I became a teenager, I remember seeing 8mm cine films projected by Dad. These happened about a month after almost every summer family outing, and in their soundless flicking short sequences the family re-lived its recent history.
Unlike Dad and Mum, my brother and I were always featured and never directed the shots.
Playing at acting in most situations, the more private they were, the more we acted up to the camera.
Even now I don't remember Dad as the one filming us, it was simply the camera, albeit in Dad’s hands. His eye pressed against the viewfinder, with only the wispy outline of his hair visible, it wasn’t really him. Besides which I don’t remember him paying that much attention to us at that age when he didn’t have the camera. All that changed as I aged, my self-consciousness won out and I stopped attending the family outings.
I’d discovered computers and Mum and Dad had my Sister’s first born to take on all those outings and star in the second round of filming.
My interest in film did not stop, though. It just changed position from play acting in front of the camera, to playing behind it.
My brother Clive’s interests honed into horror and everything that allowed him to express his emotions. He and I attempted some film-making with the Cine 8mm camera. We tried a stop-animation effort using Starwars action figures. Very little planning, and even less patience went into it. Watching the resulting badly exposed, very short, couple of clips of figures was more of a shock than reward.
I did have some fun with our early VHS recorder. I adopted a serendipitous approach to combining music and recorded TV images. More often than not the images came from the news, and on many occasions I delighted in the patterns and coincidences made randomly when picture and lyrics matched.
Clive had also started to meet up with trainee actors and film interested people at a club house in town. He developed an interest in wool, specifically one type of thick black wool. Our local haberdashery had to buy in extra to meet his demands. He was crafting a monstrous wig, replete with pointy ears and some fake limbs he’d made earlier.
I found myself on the edge of involvement, with a film happening around me, I wasn’t in it, I wasn’t behind the camera, I was just the brother of the maker.
My solution to gain involvment was to become expert in niche aspects of the filmmaking process. First it was building a kit of connectors, cables, and other bits of equipment to support the camera. I think I even wrote up a packing list.
Another niche was soundtrack and credits. This crept into the creative part of the process so I had to battle my choice of music or style past the Clive The Director.
I remember one of my choices being the classic song, “it’s my party” to accompany his horror film credits about a jilted boyfriend coming back from the grave. All that concluded with the wool running out, in more ways than one. The cast and crew lost interest, all left the project. No film was made. Then my brother lost interest in film, too, returning to his first love, making artwork.
So I picked up Clive’s camera myself, directing it’s gaze back onto family and friends. Videoing parties. Showing the videos back, just days later, on increasingly larger TVs, in increasingly longer unedited sequences, watching in silence, listening to the distorted yells of those being videoed. Often merely reminding people what they just did last week.
Somehow it didn’t seem as magical. Maybe I was just getting older?
At Double Farley, Kevin writes, shoots and directs film for clients. Helping them work in new ways through the moving image.