Why You Should Be Shooting on Super 8

Super 8 mm film is beautiful! It’s beautiful to watch but even more beautiful and exciting to shoot it for yourself and watch what you’ve shot. Super 8 does something to your footage. Where digital film kind of gives you a neutral image which may be altered in post-production, Super 8 already gives you a very poetic image which really doesn’t need any post production ‘enhancements’. You shoot Super 8 and you’ll be satisfied with the overall look of your footage… if it is the film look (rough grain with all of its characteristics) you are looking for.

Gemma Warnock in ‘Impression X’

Gemma Warnock in ‘Impression X’ – Still taken by Kat McDonald

The photo-chemical reaction that takes place when shooting film provides your footage with something extra, and never twice the same result. That is why it’s always like a present when you get back your roll of film. You shoot Super 8 and you’ll only know what you have shot when it is developed and telecined for a first view. That is a significant other methodology in filmmaking when you compare it with digital filmmaking, where you immediately see what you have shot.


The Beauty of Chance

Nature comes into play when shooting Super 8 and I like that. I like the fact that nature takes care of my ‘image-enhancement and post-production’. The only thing I have to do in post, is arrange my shots, mix the audio and take care of some titles… that’s it. With Super 8 filmmaking, one shifts the focus from post-production back to principal photography, where the focus should be in my opinion.

Impression X by Roy Rezaäli – Shot on Super 8


2 Minutes, 30 seconds at 24fps per reel

So if nature comes into play with Super 8 filmmaking, wouldn’t it only be logical that in the acting this same principal be applied? Having only 2 minutes and 30 seconds at 24 fps or 3 minutes and 20 seconds at 18 fps, the filming time is limited. Since Super 8 film is  of course film, it has its price tag… and I can not say it is cheap. But then again, it all depends on how one looks at it. In anyway, we don’t want to waste film.

Super 8 filmmakers are mostly amateur filmmakers without money who can’t afford the situation where film is thrown away just because somebody made a mistake in the dialogue, or something in the script has not been shot in the particular scene… Just like we let nature play its part in the use of film, I think we can also apply that to the dramaturgy and dialogue. I advise to create characters and leave dialogues out of your script. When you have created the characters, you’ll have several situations that can occur when you connect the characters with each other.

When your cast is prepared by you with the character, instead of with the dialogue… mistakes no longer occur. Everything is ok. We use improvisation and intuition to have nature do its thing… where we will have an authentic play.

Shooting ratio in this principle is 1:1. I have applied this technique for the first time in my share Debt for the omnibus film In Passing.

Debt (Schuld) by Roy Rezaäli


Intuition & Improvisation

Another thing here in the realm of intuition and improvisation… personally I think that the art movement Fauvism share many similarities with Super 8 filmmaking. Where Impressionism would be synonymous with poetic ‘professional’ filmmaking (like expensive professional 35 mm productions and productions that use digital camera’s worth 100,000 dollars or something, I’d rather go for a wilder approach, where we don’t fine tune stuff the way it’s done in professional productions.

I’d say we should depart from reproducing written stuff (screenplay) on to the screen, exactly the way it is penned. Where is the fun (and cinematic challenge… and poetry and intuition and improvisation… authenticity!!!) in reproducing something exactly the way it is written. The art of cinema will never get into play when one tries to copy a script exactly 1 on 1. I’d say the written stuff should only be implying situations.

The real beauty must arise when the written stuff is transcribed to the screen in such a way, that it in fact becomes something else… something real… that still has elements of the written stuff… but in essence becomes something indescribable… because when words can not describe it anymore, that is when cinema starts…

– Roy Rezaäli

This post has been written by close friend of the Black Country Cinema collective, Roy Rezaäli. Roy is a Dutch film-maker, and part of Chill’m Guerrilla Cinema who’s work revolves around the use and inherent characteristics of Super 8 mm.

More information about Roy and his work:


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Black Country Cinema


Black Country Cinema is a collective of film makers and writers based in the old industrialised region of the West Midlands known as The Black Country.

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