Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor


David Dore “Spare a few minutes to look at this lovely piece of cinema. Well… it was shot on 16mm Fuji negative.  Not 35mm, but 16mm… on an Arri 16SR!

If there is a lesson to be learned from this, it is that, in an industry that has become obsessed with resolution and technology, we have forgotten what the real power of the moving image is made of.  So… maybe the message is stop obsessing about the technology at the behest of the manufacturers and get back to the business of telling the story!  Remember, your audience doesn’t give a monkey’s what it was shot on… they just want to be drawn into your narrative.
Perhaps, instead of the latest 4K marvel, I should go and buy a nice old Arri 16BL!”
HDW : David all very nice but I will stick with my 4K Sony PXW-FS7 thank you, cameras are tools and if you want to make a true cinematic film then 16mm film may be a way forward but I just want fantastic video footage so your argument is not with me.

This short film was shot on only 800ft of 16mm FujiFilm (Eterna 500T) to achieve the distinct and unique aesthetic audiences associate with the classic ghost films of the past.

It’s probably fairly clear from the credits listed that this project was undertaken by a small number of people; five to be precise.

It’s safe to say it was a (very) low budget production. We called on favours, borrowed equipment and covered the minimal costs that were involved from our own pockets.

It all started with two rolls of 16mm FujiFilm sitting in our fridge, bought with the intention of shooting some film camera tests. But not content with “wasting” the film on lighting tests, given the ever increasing scarcity of the format, we decided to come up with a short, entertaining story that fit the criteria – we had 2x 400ft loadings of 16mm, which equates to roughly 22mins (24fps), so it was clear that we would have to keep things relatively simple.


We immediately wrote off the idea of any dialogue or sound recording, partly as it opened the door to potential retakes due to dialogue fumbles but mainly because the Arri 16SR we were going to shoot on wasn’t particularly quiet!

We used what was available to us and decided to create a Twilight Zone-esque short story that would hopefully have some charm to it. We did a quick storyboard and calculated that we could just about squeeze a 9.5min short out of the two rolls (with enough room for retakes and rolling on/checking the gate after each shot).

The whole experience was one that we will never forget and hopefully repeat in the future. The small five person crew worked quickly and efficiently; knowing that there was “more at stake” when the camera rolled pushed all our standards to a new level.

Battling stubborn keys on string that just wouldn’t stay where we wanted them (yes… very old school), a box that wasn’t really big enough for our actor to get inside and a homemade double-wicked candle that seemed to have a vendetta against him (hot wax!), we pushed to get everything we needed on the minimal amount of film stock we had available – A 2:1 shooting ratio is something we were very proud of, and still are, in fact we over shot slightly and ended up leaving two shots on the cutting room floor!

From start to finish, the project was thoroughly enjoyable. It pushed our understanding and standards, and challenged us to try just that bit harder to hopefully make the final film that bit better.

The Mysterious Disappearance of M.M. Bayliss – 16mm Short Film – Fuji Eterna 8673 500T from Elliander Pictures on Vimeo.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

2 thoughts on “Making a point on Friday the 13th

  1. I was not able to appreciate the film. I bailed out 3 minutes into it – too slow moving for me.

    I can understand the satisfaction of the crew.

    I am with HDw – once a person acquires a camera like the PXW-FS7, it’s highly unlikely they would want to work with anything else.

  2. ah…that’s an arri bl not an sr

    HDW : Ah but only you know that…I can’t be responsible for a picture thats supposed to be a certain camera.

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