One solution to sound problems [The Awful Backlash (1967) by Robert Nelson]

For some time, Robert Nelson has expressed varying degrees of dissatisfaction about the original soundtrack for his 1967 film The Awful Backlash. Personally, I think it’s perfect, and I don’t know anyone who really disagrees besides Robert. For now, he’s kind of letting it go. Anyway, at one point, he took a rather extreme approach to solving the “sound problem”, which was to actually scrape the offending parts of the soundtrack away with a razorblade. In many spots, the picture gets pretty wrecked too. Scott MacDonald once asked Robert for a print to show, and was sent a similarly modified one. Scott, are you reading this? Did you actually end up screening the print?

Casting Shadows

I think this is a beautiful one. This is the original picture roll for David Wilson’s film Casting Shadows. Some of you may know David’s work via his Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City (L.A. area). Anyway, he and his wife Diana both made films throughout the ’70s (and which I’m working on restoring). This is one of the more obscure ones, which incorporates precisely labeled pieces of white leader as its structuring motif. One result of this approach is a very nice-looking camera original.

A contact printer

Homemade contact printer built by Standish Lawder, and used in the making of his films Runaway (1969) and Corridor (1970), and possibly part of Roadfilm (1970).

The coffee can contains a regular incandescent light bulb hooked to a dimmer control. The camera is an old 16mm that belonged to Lawder’s dad. He made the tension adjustable on its inner workings in order to put several pieces of film multipacked through the film path and the gate.

In the dark, he would bi- or tri-pack raw stock (b/w reversal usually) with existing footage (the running dogs cartoon in the case of Runaway, the corridor footage he shot himself in Corridor). He would then contact print the footage in various ways using different brightness settings on the lightbulb in the coffee can, which would shine its beam through the old flashlight tube into the gate of the camera.

In the case of Corridor, the resulting footage was sometimes further processed, or printed to negative, or hi-con, or whatever. The A/B rolls were then edited from this pile of footage.

Standish also says the coffee can was originally a Chock Full O’ Nuts can, but had to be replaced, I think because it got damaged at some point.