"Meshes of the Afternoon is one of the most influential works in American experimental cinema. A non-narrative work, it has been identified as a key example of the 'trance film,' in which a protagonist appears in a dreamlike state, and where the camera conveys his or her subjective focus. The central figure in Meshes of the Afternoon, played by Deren, is attuned to her unconscious mind and caught in a web of dream events that spill over into reality. Symbolic objects, such as a key and a knife, recur throughout the film; events are open-ended and interrupted. Deren explained that she wanted 'to put on film the feeling which a human being experiences about an incident, rather than to record the incident accurately.'
Made by Deren with her husband, cinematographer Alexander Hammid, Meshes of the Afternoon established the independent avant-garde movement in film in the United States, which is known as the New American Cinema. It directly inspired early works by Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, and other major experimental filmmakers. Beautifully shot by Hammid, a leading documentary filmmaker and cameraman in Europe (where he used the surname Hackenschmied) before he moved to New York, the film makes new and startling use of such standard cinematic devices as montage editing and matte shots. Through her extensive writings, lectures, and films, Deren became the preeminent voice of avant-garde cinema in the 1940s and the early 1950s."
The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999.
Maya Deren (1943). "Meshes of the Afternoon", 16mm film, black and white, silent, 14 min. Acquired from the Artist.
Fig.1 Anna Reeves (1994), "La Vie En Rose" (short film excerpt) Aotearoa New Zealand, 16mm 7 minutes.
Outtake from a 16mm documentary called "Horseplay" that was created by Simon Perkins in 1990. The film was shot on location in Waimate in the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand at Philip and Lee Trusttum's farm. The footage was photographed by Peter Bannan on a CP16 with sound being recorded by Robert Sarkies on a Nagra. The outtakes show Lee, Philip and Robert as well as Vivienne Stone and Peter Leech. Note that the poor image quality is due to the crude transfer process which involved pointing a VHS video camera at rushes being played on a Steenbeck film editing bench.
"While the debate has raged over whether or not film is dead, ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have quietly ceased production of film cameras within the last year to focus exclusively on design and manufacture of digital cameras. ...
'The demand for film cameras on a global basis has all but disappeared,' says ARRI VP of Cameras, Bill Russell, who notes that the company has only built film cameras on demand since 2009. 'There are still some markets--not in the U.S.--where film cameras are still sold, but those numbers are far fewer than they used to be. If you talk to the people in camera rentals, the amount of film camera utilization in the overall schedule is probably between 30 to 40 percent.'
At New York City rental house AbelCine, Director of Business Development/Strategic Relationships Moe Shore says the company rents mostly digital cameras at this point. 'Film isn't dead, but it's becoming less of a choice,' he says. 'It's a number of factors all moving in one direction, an inexorable march of digital progress that may be driven more by cell phones and consumer cameras than the motion picture industry.'
Aaton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala notes why. 'Almost nobody is buying new film cameras. Why buy a new one when there are so many used cameras around the world?' he says. 'We wouldn't survive in the film industry if we were not designing a digital camera.'
Beauviala believes that that stereoscopic 3D has 'accelerated the demise of film.' He says, 'It's a nightmare to synchronize two film cameras.' Three years ago, Aaton introduced a new 35mm film camera, Penelope, but sold only 50 to 60 of them. As a result, Beauviala turned to creating a digital Penelope, which will be on the market by NAB 2012. 'It's a 4K camera and very, very quiet,' he tells us. 'We tried to give a digital camera the same ease of handling as the film camera.'
Panavision is also hard at work on a new digital camera, says Phil Radin, Executive VP, Worldwide Marketing, who notes that Panavision built its last 35mm Millennium XL camera in the winter of 2009, although the company continues an 'active program of upgrading and retrofitting of our 35mm camera fleet on a ongoing basis.'
'I would have to say that the pulse [of film] was weakened and it's an appropriate time,' Radin remarks. 'We are not making film cameras.' He notes that the creative industry is reveling in the choices available. 'I believe people in the industry love the idea of having all these various formats available to them,' he says. 'We have shows shooting with RED Epics, ARRI Alexas, Panavision Genesis and even the older Sony F-900 cameras. We also have shows shooting 35mm and a combination of 35mm and 65mm. It's a potpourri of imaging tools now available that have never existed before, and an exciting time for cinematographers who like the idea of having a lot of tools at their disposal to create different tools and looks.'"
(Debra Kaufman, 2011, Creative COW)
Fig.1 The Xterà by Aaton (Super16 camera with film magazine).
Fig.2 The Penelope-Delta by Aaton (digital camera with internal full resolution recorder).
"Andy Warhol's Screen Tests were filmed from early 1964 - November 1966. Although the short films became known as Screen Tests, they were originally conceived as film portraits - portraits done on film rather than canvas."
Fig.1&2 Andy Warhol. Screen Test: Edie Sedgwick (1965). 16mm film (black and white, silent). 4 min. at 16fps.