The Eternal River shot on film

Sometimes the job calls for black and white. I still find B&W to be more evocative than pure color; more artistic, abstract, emotional. Stripped of color, our engagement with the story seems to focus more deeply on the characters. In the wrong hands, color can become a distracting element.

A few years ago, I took on an unusual assignment for Vocal Pictures; a memorial film to a father and fishing buddy. Tony’s final request was to have a small bit of his ashes sprinkled in all his favorite trout fishing rivers. The family provided a short poem in honor of their father and his passion for fly fishing. This is his film, The Eternal River.

Shot primarily with a Nizo Super 8 MM camera, Kodak Tri-X Reversal film with an 85B filter to increase contrast. Audio of the river and other nature sound was recorded on location via iphone. Spoken word was recorded later and dubbed. Foley work was also utilized for zipper pulls and other bits of sound design. We worked to give the audio an overall echo-ethereal quality to help create the feeling of emotional disorientation that comes with the passing of a loved one.

The Super 8 film was processed and scanned at 1080. In a world in which we are always chasing pixels counts and ever higher resolution, we can lose sight (pun intended) of the importance of the story. Shooting film is not like shooting digital. In some ways simpler, in others more complex. This shoot was not particularly complex, other than getting all the gear down to the river and keeping it dry. It was straightforward, if holding a camera and walking backwards in a current of water over slippery rocks is straightforward…or straight backwards. Of course, with film, you do not get to see instantaneously what you have shot as on digital. But you can envision the image in your mind and with the right tools and experience and luck, underscore luck, it all works out well enough.