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Recreating 1912

December 22, 20222 min read

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve always enjoyed the images of early cinema. Perhpas you’ve been blown away by the stunts and antics of legneds like Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd. Truly they were pioneers in creating so many of the incredible camera tricks and physical stunts that we still employ in film today. I am still in awe when I consider some of the things they created. What imagination!!! What creativity!!! What incredible physical agility!!! Wow!!!!

Having done stunt work I am thrilled when I see their work. It is inspiring. Perhpas that is why I am so excited for this upcoming project. Naturally I can’t say too much about it yet — but the goal is this. To create a film project that recreates the feel of these early films.

We started by doing lots of photos and test footgage. Here’s an example.

Douglas Vermeeren Circa 1912

Some of the difficulty we had was to duplicate the vintage film cranking speeds and lighting of the day. The lights were hard and harsh but still needed to light effectively. We also had to figure out how to duplicate the make up that was used at this time and it was incredibly surprising to learn the color palette that was utilized in the day.

The other important consideration was framing of the shots. Obviously we take for granted the camera movements and composition of today. I did a film not too long ago that I wanted to have the appearance of the 1950’s and the thing that destroyed the illusion was that the DOP (while a great contemporary shooter) was totally out of his element in shooting to duplciate the period. Thank goodness for that project where I learned that each era has a very clear way the camera was used or wasn’t used.

Douglas Vermeeren circa 1912

It was also interesting to explore how the video and photos behaved in editing. I think this is a part of the process that we often don’t think about. The goal obviously of editing is be invisible. But there is often so much work that goes into this.

Anyways, this is turning out to be a really fun project. I am excited because I am such a fan of the history of cinema. What an adventure it is to try and recreate these pieces.

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Douglass Vermeeren


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