Thursday, December 29, 2011

January at the Institute

We look forward to several specific events in January along with some unstructured activity as well.

THE RANDOM ORPHAN SERIES. On Saturday January 14th at 7:30 pm we will be presenting films from our Random Orphan Series. We will continue to show films from our collection chosen primarily at random. Although our method is less rigorous than say, John Cage we will nonetheless leave the choice of films for showing up to the whim of the first audience member arriving. January 14th 7:30 pm.

ONE REEL CHALLENGE. The Institute will continue to solicit film makers to make one reel Super-8 films. Which we will process and show on site. So far, Kathleen Brennan, Joe Shepard have taken the challenge. There are still two challenge rolls of Tri-x out there waiting  to be shot. Ongoing with Matthew and Dan.

A DAY AND AND EVENING OF FILM. This event will bring together Boston based film makers to make a film in a day. This will involve shooting processing, editing and projecting a film in a day in January. Dinner will be served.TBA soon.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


We finished our first day of the Super-8 Workshop with Tara and Gordon Nelson. We got lots of good information about film, cameras and processing of black and white film. Gordon demonstrated the hand developing process. We got two 50 ft. rolls processed. More to come on the topics of editing, projections, tinting and hand drawing on Super-8. So far, this has been a comprehensive workshop taught by two knowledgable, and fun instructors. Next and final session, next Saturday November 5th, 10 am to 4 pm.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


This week we looked an a few films; Hamburg, Blinkety Blank, Frank Film, and American Time Capsule.
HAMBURG was a German language film about the city of Hamburg Germany, meant to go with a German language study guide. Originally in color, there are lots of shots of pink buildings and people over a breezy narration about 1970's Hamburg Germany. Focused on the demographic and cultural aspects of the city. Might be a good starting point for a comparison to present day Hamburg. Organized, all in focus tourism board footage.
BINKETY BLANK This was one of the hand drawn (scratched) films completed in the 1960's by Norman MacLaren of the National Film Board of Canada. Done with an original score it begins as an abstract response to the music which is experimental but not narrative or melodic. As the short film progresses it becomes more literal and narrative and almost whimsical as only a National Film Board of Canada film can be. No edginess. In the end everything turns out OK.
FRANK FILM by Frank Mouris is sort of a failed project film that chronicles Mouris's childhood and experiences with consumer culture through his collection of images. Impessive because it was made before digital image storage and retrieval. Everything is collaged and animated on an optical printer. It represents a bath of images which wash over you as his voice narrates a multi-track version of his biography to date. Funny and powerful at the same time.
AMERICAN TIME CAPSULE -By Chuck Braverman. This film first appeared on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour which aired in the early 70's. It attempts to represent 200 years of American history in 2 minutes and 43 seconds. It is set to a jazz-like drum solo. It seems a bit heavy on the civil war an light on the 60's. Impressive for the same reason that FRANK FILM was. An intensive research and animation project long before Ken Burns ever rolled film.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Random Orphan Show Is Moving

The Random Orphan film showing will be moving to Tuesday nights. still at 6:30 at the Institute in the Photo department at Hardie.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


For this show we looked at two films. "The Origins of the Motion Picture" and "The Inner World of Jose Luis Borges". One film about the history and development of movie technology and another about the life and thoughts of the Famous South American writer and poet.

"Origins" was produced by the U.S. Navy in 1955. It credits no individuals but an IMDB check might reveal some pretty well known folks in there. It aspires to be comprehensive and has lots of well researched images from the Library of Congress, The Smithsonian, The George Eastman House and other repositories. It starts with the confirmation by Ptolemy of the persistence of vision in 130 BC and follows up to the development of 35 mm celluloid film. I was glad to see portraits of the luminaries like Daguerre, Plateau, and Muybridge, but missed the details of the determination who got credit for what. This film concentrated mainly on the imaging and projecting machines and less on the history of the form. It's a good introduction to the technology of motion pictures in which Edison get credit for just about everything.

The Borges film looks like a personal project for Harold Mantell the writer/director. It has a lot of hand held footage of Borges at home and at work. There are interviews as well. Some of the interviews are marred by a loud camera background noise. There is sometimes magical footage, (the blind Borges moving through the Bibleotec National in Buenos Aires lit by a single hand held spot, or a scene at home which shows him mouthing the words to one of his poems while his wife sings them back to him). There is an intrusive narrator here and in other moments that makes me wish the film maker had trusted his images more.

I also showed a bonus film of my friend David Cooper graduating from the PHD program at Brown in 1978. Shot by me in black and white 16mmm as a gift to him. I was obviously bored and distracted by the peripheral activity. It's pretty good footage. There might be a story in there somewhere.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weekend Workshop,Date Change

Gordon and Tara Nelson will be coming to Montserrat on Saturday and Sunday October 29th and 30th to conduct a two day workshop in Hand processing Super-8 black and white film. The workshop will take place in the photo department darkroom area. You will learn how to process black and white positive and negative film. These Boston -based film makers work in a variety of film formats. Their work can be seen by clicking the links on the right side of this page. Check the Montserrat Continuing Education web page for details.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

First Random/Orphan Show

We screened three films; "Tilt," "Love To Kill" and "God's Monkey".
The first two were civics lessons.
Tilt" was a National Film Board of Canada animation about the worlds resources and what we can (or can't) do about preserving them. Blithely liberal, it took no positions. A committee job co-produced by the World Bank in 1972.
"Love to Kill" was a Values Lesson couched in a youth vs. elders story of camp kids who want to set free the buffalo. Strangely re-edited from a longer film by Stanley Kramer. Featuring familiar but forgotten actors from the 1970's. Jeeps, Horses, guns, kids, older guys and horses.
"God's Monkey" is ostensibly an Art History film. It changes into a subjective, zealous and almost paranoid interpretation of the Hieronymus Bosch painting "Garden of Earthy Delights" Preposterous and wonderfully mad.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Ophaned Film collection

Over 100 films were donated to The Institute by the Chapin-Berner collective this summer. The collection is now cataloged and housed at The Institute. We are starting a film screening series called "Random Title Search". We will be showing films chosen randomly by title only starting on Monday Sept. 12th at 6:30 p.m. in the Institute.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Another French Camera

 Rather than looking like a stealth device this camera reminds me of the car dashboard from the 1960's. It works and is lightweight. This one comes with a prized (and hard to find) 200 ft magazine in great condition. The body is in great shape. There is a pistol grip which positions the hand more under the camera for better balance. This is important with a full 200 ft load in the magazine. The motor only runs at 64 fps right now . I intend to fix this. There is also a rather cheap 25 mm lens too. Matched up with the other Beaulieu and lenses this gives me a pretty high end camera system.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Infinite Format Film Show at 17 Cox

Thanks to all of the folks who showed up the the inaugural film show at the 17 Cox Art Center. It was a long program of films which started at 6 pm. and continued until 10 pm.. We screened work by Super-8 workshop participants Emily Pardoe, Christopher Stepler, Zak Goldstein, Len Thomas Vickory, and Brandon Phelps. The Main show featured the work of Boston film makers Tara Nelson, Gordon Nelson, and Paul Turano also featured in the Main show was the work of recent Montserrat graduate Kathleen Brennan.We appreciate the viewers who showed up for both screenings and especially those who stayed for both. Screenings are particular events that have a theatrical quality to them. This one was pretty intense. It seemed as if the audience was watching very closely. The group stayed connected right up to the final film. Again, we appreciate this very much.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Eclair update

Elclair NPR batteries are done scratch tests show flawless film.  The remaining functions of the mags, lens and film transport will be revealed after todays test rolls.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Recent Acquisition; Eclair NPR 16mm camera

Not a silly blunderbuss but a classic piece of film history. All I know is that this camera came from the west coast. I imagine this camera at Altamont or Monterey. This is like the first camera I ever rented in the 1970's. Although it seemed a lot smaller then. Thanks to John Cairnes at Van Ness Creative for helping me check over it. It needs batteries but is complete in every way and ready to shoot the first test roll next week. Also thanks to John and Paul Van Ness at Van Ness Creative for a raw stock donation.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Six Plate Editing Table Arrives at the Institute

Thanks to the generosity of film makers Joe Gibbons and Louise Bourque The Institute has acquired a used Cinemonta six-plate editing table. This is an uncommon, Belgian model much like a Steenbeck. According to Joe Gibbons it saw a lot of use as a sort of optical printer for Louise Borques films.
See these links:
Although we won't be using the magnetic sound heads we will certainly be using it to edit and compile 16mm material.

Monday, February 21, 2011

La caméra Pathé est fixé

The reccently purchsed 1950's era Pathe' Webo Super 16 camera is now working. I spent the better part (the morning) of two days disassembling the shutter mechanism. I discovered the botched work of the previous owner who mis-assembled the mechanism and over tightened a crucial screw. It now hums like the fine French machine that it is. I shot a test roll of Tri-X today.
This camera is history to me, I saw a production still of Agnes Varda working on one of her films with a Pathe'. I remember Pathe' newsreels which often preceeded the feature film at theaters when I was younger. Pathe' essentially founded the French film industry. I like to think that Eric Rohmer used a Pathe' Yet there is something forlorn about this camera. Like the Citroen or the Peugeot they have not quite made the transition into the era of solid state circuitry. Which is why I guess, the Institute is interested in having a camera like this. Pourquoi ne pas?