I’m extremely lucky and will always be grateful that I managed to pass through my film school before it phased out physical film editing. While you can still find film schools in this country that actually shoot 16 or 35mm film, more and more schools are phasing it out for obvious reasons (a changing industry, infrastructure costs, material costs). Even more rare is finding a school where film is shot, processed, and cut by students. I am lucky enough to attend one, and in my Intro classes found myself shooting 16mm, black & white reversal stock (with a Bolex of course!), having it processed at the school’s affiliated lab, and then cutting it by hand in a small room filled with six Steenbeck machines (two 6-plate stations and four 4-plate stations that have since been removed- save for one).* I was so enamored with the process that my Intro To Film final project was a short about a guy editing, who is suddenly dragged by slithering strips of film into one of the bins full of fluffy piles of16mm leftovers. He emerges as a Swamp Thing type film monster.
Even after learning about editing on sophisticated
digital AVID stations with enormous unity networks,
nothing feels the same as slicing the stock, stretching out the tape,
and Frankenstein’ing the strips back together- it’s almost pornographic. Finally you can carefully
feed the results through the machine and see what you’ve done before dropping your head when you realize how fucking long it’s going to take
you to fix that one mistake. Even still, while editing in any format equates to artistic expression, there was something about grasping it with your hands that made it feel like Art.
That nostalgia for a process that has almost completely died is what made me fall in love with these clocks they have over at Etsy.com. Even if you’ve never had the pleasure (or interest) to cut film, the clocks are pretty badass. Anyone with any appreciation for the physical history of the medium we love so much can appreciate these pieces.
They’re handmade and come in all sorts of colors, styles, and sizes (and apparently can be customized), though I’m partial to the “Reel Green” style pictured largely above (it even matches CHUD!). Unfortunately (while reasonable) they are too expensive for my broke fucking ass, so I’ll just have to look doe-eyed at the pictures. If you have some extra scratch and some wall space though, these could add a touch of tangible class near that shelf of 1s and 0s you probably own.
*I’m telling this like it was the fucking 70s, even though it was 3 years ago.