Monday, November 19, 2012

Upcoming Show: Tara and Gordon Nelson screening at Anthology Film Archives in NYC

Friday, December 14 at 7:30 pm SHOW & TELL at Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue New York, NY

Filmmaking spouses Tara and Gordon Nelson present an extensive selection of their Super-8mm and 16mm films, in a program that encompasses quadruple projections, sound performances, live editing, audience interaction, found-footage dance parties, and other extraterrestrial surprises. Hailing from the celluloid paradise of Pittsburgh, and currently residing in Boston, they have created a body of work, both separately and together, that explores the many ways in which Super-8mm and 16mm film can document, manipulate, and transfigure reality. Given their embrace of performance and happenstance, no two shows are ever alike – prepare to be dazzled!

Monday, October 15, 2012

UPCOMING SCREENING: Films by Tara and Gordon Nelson and Sound by TAPS at Studio Soto, Boston on 10/18/12

Tara and I will be screening our super-8 and 16mm films and the amazing Boston musical duo TAPS will perform at Studio Soto located at 10 Channel Center Street in Boston. We have a nice program filled with some of our favorite movies, a few of which have rarely been screened. We are also debuting an overhead projection performance to accompany TAPS that we are really happy about. See you there!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Shameless Wavelength at MassArt Film Society 7/25/2012

Tara and Gordon Nelson are co-curating a screening of two classic experimental films at MassArt on Weds, July 25 @ 8pm as part of the incredible and long running Film Society series operated by Saul Levine.


SHAMELESS (1974) by Victor Faccinto 16mm, color, 13.5 min
Cut-out puppet animation. Not recommended for gentle sensibilities. Plagued by his redundant existence, Video Vic follows his instincts into an outer space environment, where he is faced with the cruel realities of his linear life. "Victor Faccinto's last cut-out film SHAMELESS exhibits a tension within the form. As real penises penetrate paper vaginas, and cut-out men investigate life-sized female parts, the film implies a potential synthesis of metaphoric and real action; the film also suggests the exhaustion of purely cut-out imagery by manipulation of materials, only now it is the film itself which is scratched, painted or cut." -- Ian Birnie, Art Gallery of Ontario

WAVELENGTH (1967) by Michael Snow 16mm, color, 45 min
WAVELENGTH was shot in one week in December, 1966, preceded by a year of notes, thoughts, mutterings. It was edited and first print seen in May, 1967. I wanted to make a summation of my nervous system, religious inklings, and aesthetic ideas. I was thinking of, planning for a time monument in which the beauty and sadness of equivalence would be celebrated, thinking of trying to make a definitive statement of pure Film space and time, a balancing of "illusion" and "fact," all about seeing. The space starts at the camera's (spectator's) eye, is in the air, then is on the screen, then is within the screen (the mind). The film is a continuous zoom which takes 45 minutes to go from its widest field to its smallest and final field. It was shot with a fixed camera from one end of an 80 foot loft, shooting the other end, a row of windows and the street .... The room (and the zoom) are interrupted by four human events including a death. The sound on these occasions is sync sound, music and speech, occurring simultaneously with an electronic sound, a sine-wave .... It is a total glissando while the film is a crescendo and a dispersed spectrum which attempts to utilize the gifts of both prophecy and memory which only film and music have to offer.

*Descriptions courtesy of the Filmmakers Cooperative*

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tara and Gordon Nelson are screening at Millenium Film Workshop, NYC

Come see our program "Movies from the Multiverse" at Millenium Film Workshop at 66 E 4th Street, NYC. This will be an updated version of the program that we've been showing around for the past year.

Monday, March 26, 2012

TIE screening at the ICA in Boston


On Sunday, April 1 at 4pm at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston hosts The International Experimental Cinema Exposition (TIE) with a program of New England-based filmmakers highlighted by works from Jonathan Schwartz, Saul Levine, Luther Price, Tara Nelson, Gordon Nelson, Paul Turano, Luis Arnias, Sheri Wills, Robert Todd and Frankie Symonds who join TIE curator Christopher May for a postscreening discussion. Based in Denver, Colorado, this renowned festival presents innovative and poetic celluloid-based films by experimental artists from around the world. For more info visit the ICA website.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Article: Which Bolex Is It?

The Bolex H-16mm RX spring-wound movie camera.  Every film student usually gets to use a Bolex and anyone who considers buying their own movie camera will surely look at Bolexes.  One of big the problems with finding the right Bolex is sorting through the many different models that have been released over the years.  I’m going to describe the differences between most of the common desirable spring-wound Bolexes as a guide to tell them apart.  I hope that this is helpful to any students or filmmakers who are interested in buying one of these great cameras.
First up is a Bolex non-RX (non reflex) model, which is probably the most common type of Bolex H16.  There are many variants of this model such as the H-16S and H-16M.  RX means reflex viewing, defined as looking through the camera’s eyepiece and seeing a direct through the lens view of the taking lens visible while shooting.  The non-RX viewfinder permits through the lens viewing for focusing purposes, but only when the lens is out of the taking (center turret) position.  Therefore, non-RX cameras are much less desirable and should command a far lower price than a true RX model.  The viewfinder running along the top of the camera is detachable and there are several different styles of viewfinders which are suitable for different purposes.  Non-RX Bolexes require a side “octameter” finder which attaches to the camera door to allow reasonably accurate parallax viewing for different prime lens focal lengths.  It is also common to find non-RX Bolexes paired up with zoom lenses with a built in reflex “dog-leg” finder which tend to be bulky and impractical.
Next, we have a Bolex RX (pronounced REX) sometimes just called a REFLEX or RX0. This camera does have true reflex viewing while shooting, but lacks a variable shutter.  This big improvement would come along with the RX1.
Here is a RX1.  It’s very much the same as a RX0 with the addition of the variable shutter feature. For those seeking complete manual control, the variable shutter is a very desirable option that allows in-camera fades and dissolves among other features.  The reflex viewfinders of the RX0 and RX1 give an adequate, though small through the lens image that is somewhat difficult to use. The RX2 would improve on this aspect.
Here is a RX2 with the newer logo design.  This model features a larger (10X) magnification viewfinder.  Notice the viewfinder is more pronounced with a squared-off appearance. The eyepiece has also been improved with a more sophisticated means to set the diopter to your own eyesight. The RX2 in this photo is fitted with a Rex-o-fader for creating automatic fades.
The RX3 was improved with a flat base, so the camera can balance on a flat surface without falling over & allow for matte-box attachments with less added parts.
The RX4 included a change in design of the I/T switch from a lever to a knob and an additional motor shaft, known as the 1:1 shaft, which can accept an accessory 24fps sync sound motor. The RX4 happens to be my personal favorite of the Bolex line due to how well it combines the best classic features with new improvements.
Before moving on to the RX5, it’s important to mention the H-8 line. These are standard 8mm Bolexes that are the same dimensions as the H-16 line.  They look just like the 16mm versions with some minor differences that can easily escape notice.  The brand plate above the spring crank will state that it’s 8mm. Also, it will have some different mechanical parts on the inside.  The H-8RX models are especially confusing since they accept the same c-mount lens thread as the 16mm models. The H-8RX lenses will mount on the H-16 models with some unusual results.
The RX5 is considered by many to be the ultimate Bolex and is easily identifiable with its top magazine mount.  This one also has the 13X viewfinder & eyepiece made of metal with silver trim, which provides the biggest and brightest reflex viewing experience. Early RX5s still have the 10X viewfinder and are not as desirable.  Also, shooting with a 400’ magazine can’t be done unless you have an electric motor attached with a secondary motor to give torque to the magazine. Not a very practical system, really.  If shooting 400’ loads, it probably makes more sense to use a different camera like an Arri 16 BL. The magazine mount also foils the flowing design aesthetic of the rounded top on earlier Bolexes.
Lastly, this is a Bolex SBM (single bayonette mount) that does away with the 3-lens turret in place of a pro-level bayonette mount for hefty zoom lenses.  This one has black paint covering the silver trim, adding a stealth factor. SBMs are usually very expensive and H16RX compatible bayonet lenses are incredibly rare and expensive.  These cameras are usually supplied with an adapter for C-mount RX lenses to make them a bit more versatile.

So, which Bolex is the best?  For most users who want the basic Bolex experience and would like to save some money, a RX3 is probably the best value with all of the most useful features.  For the right price, a RX4 is also a great choice.  If you have more money, a RX5 or SBM with a 13X viewfinder is very desirable due to more recent manufacturing and the larger viewfinder really makes a difference when critical focusing. -G. Nelson copyright 2012
Some images are from and

Friday, February 17, 2012

Making Movies in Somerville, MA

I'm teaching lots of new classes at Somerville Community Access TV in Somerville, MA. Whether you want to get into super-8 filmmaking, video storytelling, studio production, radio, etc. this is the place to check out.