Friday, December 2, 2005

Color Sound Movies -- Weekend Assignment 88

John Scalzi asks us to tell him about something we wished we had in the good old days, when we were kids, that we do have now, in the Good New Days.

I used my first pay check ever to buy a Keystone 8mm movie camera.  I was hired to clean the office of the Valley Escrow Company, a family business.  Each day, after breakfast and before school, I used to ride my bicycle to the office, use my key, enter and clean the office by dusting, emptying waste baskets, sweeping, and cleaning the restroom. Then I locked it up and went to Van Nuys High School. On Saturdays, I repeated that routine plus mopping and washing the store front window inside and out.

When I got my first pay, I used it to buy the hand held, wind-up movie camera.  With it I filmed the Van Nuys High School Newsreel. One issue featured the football game with San Fernando, the marching of the R.O.T.C, company, noon activities, the student body elections, and a feature showing how the school paper was published.

Each roll of film lasted two minutes, and then turned, lasted two more. Each issue of the Newsreel took five rolls of film and ten camera loads to complete. At first I shot in black and white, with one feature article in color. The movie was silent.  My friends and I expericmented with a separate recording with sound and music, but it was hard to synchonize the two.

What I wished for was a camera which would take more than two minutes of movie, in fifteen seconds per hand wound segments, with an unlimited supply of film, with sound, and color. Alas, my hand held Keystone was state of the art in home movies.

Fast-forward many, many years.  I was making home movies with my Sears VHS cam-corder, capturing color pictures with sound on cheap, reusable, two-hour cartridges.  I thought, "Wow, what a wonderful Newsreel I could have produced in 1939 with this baby." 

It was my boyhood dream, come true.


jckfrstross said...

How nice to remember such things:)


elleme2 said...

How sophisticated your school was!  We had a school newspaper, period.  Large school in a major metropolitan area, too.  You really were film pioneers out there in sunny California.  

mavarin said...

That is very cool, Chuck.  I used a Bolex 16mm in college when I was a film major.  Alas, I made a lousy director - and the film development was expensive!

Did you save any of the old footage?


monponsett said...

I had you figured for looking up at the moon and wanting to walk around up there.

monponsett said...

Either that, or miniskirts.

deslily said...

What a great memory and great entry!.. Van Nuys eh? for 10 yrs I lived in Sherman Oaks!  Loved the Valley!!

some 35 yrs ago my then sister-in-law did alot of hand held filming of my kids when they were young.. sure wish i knew what happened to those films!!

msecz said...

How much fun you must have had with that old camera though... what great memories you have today... probably wouldn't be like that if you and everyone else had a new fangled camera like we all have today. Sandra