Super 8: Shooting an Experimental Super Short Film

Kate Ferguson Super 8 filmmaking

I recently shot my first project on Super 8 and spoiler alert…I’m in love.

The film used was Kodak Tri-X black and white reversal film and the Super 8 camera was a Canon 514 XL. After the shoot, I hand-developed the film, and once digitized I spent some time arranging the edit in Premiere Pro.

I learned a few things throughout this experience about what I would not repeat, but for the most part, I walked away inspired and full of ideas for the next shoot. I have a short film script that I think would work great shot on Super 8, and also think it might be fun to shoot some footage on an upcoming family trip.

Here are some things I learned:

  • The beautiful moody cloudy sky that graced my eyes that day looked like literally nothing on film. My BTS iPhone pics of the same clouds look great though.
  • Doing in-camera stop motion with a Super 8 camera is just as much fun now as it was when I made my first-ever short film with a video camera. That time it featured Playmobile toys in a dollhouse (and beyond), this time it featured candles in my backyard.
  • Even when the Super 8 camera is giving off a warning that the scene is too dark to capture, it’s probably going to capture it anyway. Not that I would suggest shooting all in low light—it certainly works better in full light—but low light is not impossible.

Note: While I have this uploaded on YouTube, I far prefer the version that I made as an Instagram reel, thanks to the fact that I could use my chosen song there: Timber Timbre’s “Black Water.” Tap here to watch that version. 

Next, I’ll be researching whether it makes to rent a Super 8 camera or if I should just purchase one of my own. They are fairly reasonably priced compared to other types of vintage cameras, however, as always, I’ll want to find one that’s been tested and properly represented. I hear Etsy is a good place to find trusted sellers.

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