Back in my college days I had become slightly obsessed with movies, filmmaking and vintage movie cameras, and was lucky enough to acquire a vintage Bolex 8mm film camera to experiment with. It had some nice bells and whistles, a great variety of lenses and other goodies. I wasn’t sure what year the camera was produced, but it was a very pretty looking camera. Unfortunately, with painting and design degree getting in the way of said experimenting, I didn’t really get a chance to shoot much film. I did manage to shoot one roll of film, which has yet to be developed. That roll of film has been sitting in my freezer for the last 8 years, so I’m really anxious to see if and how the film came out.
From what I remember, the camera was very tricky to load film into. Assuming the black and white film was loaded correctly, the undeveloped roll is me filming the road from the passenger seat of a friend’s vehicle, with a running time of around 2 minutes or so. Of course, I’m not even sure if the exposure was set correctly, either, so there is another factor to worry about.
Sadly, between graduation and looking for my first post-college job, I had to part with the camera to make sure The Man was kept at bay. It was really heartbreaking to sell the camera I hadn’t really got to play or make art with, but was just one of those things that had to be done. ‘Paying the cost to be the boss,’ I guess.
Several months ago, I told my girlfriend the story about the camera and having to sell it to pay the bills, one day while online casually searching eBay listings for Bolex movie cameras. It was a fleeting moment I didn’t really think much about after, until Christmas Eve this year. My girlfriend surprised me with the movie camera I found that day online, and was really sly about purchasing it without me knowing. In fact, she was so worried I would find it hidden in the house that she stashed it at our friend’s house. I was really impressed she remembered my story and was kind enough to buy the camera for me. She even tracked down some additional unused film, too.
I spent a few hours this week doing some research online about the camera, since it didn’t come with an original operating manual. I managed to make some great discoveries, like the fact the camera is actually a 16mm movie camera that was produced in 1947, according to the serial number. I don’t think my original camera was that old, but was really neat to find out my ‘new’ camera was produced shortly after WWII.
I’m still doing some further research about where to buy additional film, where to get film developed, and if my camera can actually shoot the double 8mm it came with. It seems like it will be able to, just won’t have as much film to work with on the 50’ double 8mm rolls. However, I have enough to experiment with for the time being.
It’s really exciting to think about all the possibilities that lay before me with this camera, and the hand-crank 35mm lo-fi camera I’ve also got my eye on. I don’t really have any plans to make a fully scripted film or anything like that, but making some interesting short, artsy films for the studio’s website (hopefully). If anything, this will be a nice diversion from painting, design or printmaking that usually occupies my time.
Maybe I’ll have something to share in the coming months…Thanks Sloan!