When you work with a cheap format like digital, you end up trying out lots of things. You try to achieve a very lively, almost freeform atmosphere. With digital, you can just keep the camera rolling the whole time. But with film, you start to capture things after rehearsals – when your scene is about half way there. With digital, you never do the thinking until it’s done.
With film, it forces you to think and to re-think. It forces you to devise the choreography and build the mise en scéne. Then, when you’ve done that, the moment when you start shooting the scene, there is a special moment where everyone just focuses that little bit more. It adds a drama to the shoot, which you don’t get with digital.
My tip for shooting on film is, don’t respect the material too much. If you’re too coy about using the film you have, you end up with lots of short fragments. By all means plan the shoot, but play around a bit too. Use it. Also, remember, when you’re choosing the material, don’t think that film is better than digital. It’s more about asking what’s best for the film you’re making. It’s the difference between doing an oil painting and a pencil sketch. They’re completely different forms.
October 4, 2006 — Michael Tisdale –from bolexcollector.com
I love collecting vintage magazines. Not just camera or photographic magazines, but anything from news to entertainment and tabloid publications. The stories, articles and photos always seem to give a better sense of the people and events of the time period than anything found in history books.
Throughout the 1930s to the 1960s, there were many publications devoted to the hobby of home movies and amateur filmmaking. I’ve always enjoyed collecting and reading issues of Home Movies, Movie Makers, and others. They’re a great source of information on cameras and products, as well.
November 7th, 2008—
In this interview, Michael Tisdale talks about collecting vintage Bolex-Paillard home movie cameras and related ephemera. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Michael can be reached via his website, Bolex Collector, which is a member of our Hall of Fame.
Collecting Paillard-Bolex cameras was something I started doing by accident. It was a combination of several interests I had, including, photography, broadcasting and even collecting vintage records and magazines. I became really passionate about the Swiss craftsmanship and the high quality of the cameras. And I started trying to trace the history of the Paillard Company and the fascinating range of items they produced.
I didn’t really set out to start a collection of cameras, it was really something that happened gradually.I didn’t even see the cameras at first as being collectible, and to some extent, I still don’t. But they’re really very usable cameras. You can still buy 16mm and 8mm film, and there are still technicians who will repair or modify the cameras. They’re still used in film schools by students, and many people still use them to shoot independent films and documentaries. It’s an odd thing to collect because their value is really determined by the usability and features and not so much age or rarity. Even though most of them are 40 or 50 years old or more, they’re excellent cameras and just too nice to sit on the shelf and not run film through.
At the same time, I’ve become passionate about appearance of the cameras and even the history of the company itself. I’ve found myself adding more and more of these cameras to my collection over the years, whether they’re working or not. They’re wonderful to display and look at. And best of all, most of the models are fairly inexpensive these days compared to the small fortune they cost during the 1940s and 1960s.
When I bought my first Bolex camera around 1991, I was looking for a cheap motion picture camera that offered the ability to shoot single frames and timed exposures. I was majoring in broadcast journalism and photography, and wanted to experiment with some simple animation and time-lapse photography.
Bolex is a Swiss company (Bolex International S.A. of Yverdon) that manufactures motion picture cameras and lenses, the most notable products of which are in the 16 mm and Super 16 mm formats. The Bolex company was initially founded by Jacques Bogopolsky (a.k.a. Jacques Bolsey or Bolsky) in 1927. Bolex is derived from his name. He had previously designed cameras for Alpa. Bolex cameras were particularly important for early television news, nature films, documentaries and the avant garde, and are still favoured by many animators today. Whilst some later models are electrically powered, the majority of those manufactured since the 1930s use a spring-wound clockwork. The 16 mm spring-wound Bolex is a popular introductory camera in film schools.