Brakhage in 8mm (was: Film print as collectible (?))

From: Mark Toscano (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Dec 08 2008 - 15:45:10 PST

Just realized that I had written "super 8" instead of plain ol' 8mm. The reduction version of Love Making was 8mm, not super 8.

As far as I can tell, and supported by what Marilyn and Fred wrote, it seems that Love Making part 1 was reduced for the Grove Press deal only, and all the prints were made from these 16/8 reduction internegatives, meaning that all extant 8mm prints should be faded by now.

There were two internegatives made for this purpose, one featuring three full run-throughs of the film down each side, and the other featuring four. A single printing of the internegative would result in 6 (or 8) complete 8mm prints of Love Making. And I'm positive that the 16mm 1st generation printing master (or a 16mm print) was used to make these negatives, and not the original A/B rolls.

The Songs were all originally made in 8mm, and I think VERY few prints were struck directly from these originals. I'm extremely grateful to P. Adams Sitney for loaning me his set (up through the high 20s) which are 1st generation prints, as these will prove crucial in restoring the Songs down the road.

Very early on, I think about 1968, Stan struck reversal printing masters for all of the Songs and thereafter, all 8mm prints were made from these masters (or subsequent masters created ca.1975). Later editions of these prints are so-so in quality, mainly because the 7389 Ektachrome print stock was frequently used, and that has turned out to have not very stable color, shifting sort of purple. The Songs were never released in Super 8.

All of the Songs (except Window Suite... and American 30's Song) were blown up to 16mm between the late '70s and mid '80s. I'm still figuring out what elements were used to blow them up. There's a fair amount of evidence (so far) that the blowups were not done from the actual originals, but I've yet to confirm this.

Incidentally, the film Two: Creeley/McClure, which is part of 15 Song Traits (aka Song 15) was originally its own standalone film made in 16mm, and reduced to 8mm to be included in this series.

Although the Songs could have technically still been printed in 8mm as of a few years ago (onto 7399 reversal print), the discontinuation of that stock in 2004 has now made it more or less impossible. There are no 8mm internegatives for them, and no reversal print stock, so that's it.

The blowups do look interesting. I'm not an authority by any stretch, but I think some translate very well to 16mm, and others not so well. Song 12 is the only black and white Song, but it's only available on color stock now. I'm not sure if this was merely a practical decision on Stan's part, or an aesthetic one (or both?).

As for how the 8mm prints out there are holding up, I would guess that if they're 7387 or 7390 prints, they're probably pretty OK, if they're 7389 prints, they're shifted purple, and if they're 7399 prints, they're shifted a tiny bit purple.

Mark T

p.s. In doing some early evaluative work on the Songs, I watched all the 16mm prints in order about 4 years ago. I was really impressed with My Mtn. Song 27 and its Part II: Rivers, and I can't figure out wht they're so little known. I highly recommend checking these two out, and Canyon Cinema should have newish 16mm prints of them.

--- On Mon, 12/8/08, Myron Ort <email suppressed> wrote:

> From: Myron Ort <email suppressed>
> Subject: Re: [FRAMEWORKS] Film print as collectible (?)
> To: email suppressed
> Date: Monday, December 8, 2008, 8:10 AM
> Seems like I recall that Brakhage made his 8mm Songs, 8mm
> Mothlight, and 8mm WWBM available for sale for many years. I
> still have most all of them that I obtained by trade or
> purchase during those years { including Window Suite of
> Children's Songs, but not the much longer 23rd Psalm
> Branch}. There must be quite a few of these prints out there
> in people's collections, but I do not recall them coming
> up on eBay very often. Are the songs still available in 8mm
> or are they long ago sold out? Of the 8mm Songs I have, the
> color has maintained remarkably well over the years, at
> least last time I viewed them. I thought I saw that the
> Songs had been blown up to 16mm and were available in that
> form. Anyone seen the 8mm Songs in 16mm blow up, bet they
> look pretty interesting. Who else has some of the Songs? How
> are they holding up?
> Myron Ort


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