Re: [Frameworks] Will Hindle films

From: Myron Ort (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Jul 06 2010 - 18:49:24 PDT

Thanks for this update Mark. It was certainly of great interest.

When I was still teaching at Sonoma State University I had Will came
out to show PASTEUR3. I was a riveting presentation that I will never

Myron Ort

On Jul 6, 2010, at 5:29 PM, Mark Toscano wrote:

> Hi all,
> Indeed, Will Hindle's films are in a difficult state. Iíve been
> accumulating elements and information on his work for some time now
> Ė in fact, going back pretty much to the beginning of my time doing
> film restoration work at the Academy in 2003. Pretty early on, I
> was able to get, on deposit from Shellie Fleming, the originals for
> two of Willís films (Non Catholicam and Saint Flournoy). PFA
> loaned me the elements for FFFTCM that they rescued when Palmerís
> Lab closed. Finally, I turned up the originals for Pasteur3 at
> Deluxe Labs in Hollywood here. And I knew that the Billabong and
> Chinese Firedrill originals were at MoMA.
> With the originals for those three films in my possession, I
> planned, starting around 2005, to do the restoration work, get new
> internegatives made, etc., and with the originals in hand, thought
> this might not be so complicated. Turns out itís insanely
> complicated.
> Each one would take a long description of why itís not done yet,
> five years later. Though the time and work hasnít been wasted,
> because at this point I have a much better sense of what the
> options are not just for those three films of Willís, but all 11 of
> his completed works:
> The originals for this film are lost. They were possibly lost in
> the 1970s, at which time an internegative was made from a Canyon
> Cinema print. Subsequently, I have some correspondence which
> suggests Will may have gotten an idea as to where the originals
> were, but I donít know anything after that. Theyíve basically
> never turned up, and Iím guessing he just never found them.
> Regardless, I plan to make a new internegative from a near-pristine
> original print I have access to.
> The original reversal A/B rolls are in good shape, but do not QUITE
> represent the final form of the film. The penultimate shot, of the
> hand of a crucifix, has an optically introduced effect made only in
> the original dupe negative, from which all prints were struck.
> This negative was lost, but now may have been found, though I donít
> have access to it yet. The plan would be to go back to the
> originals and make a new dupe, optically building in the one
> variant shot from a new pos section made off the old dupe neg. The
> originals also have some ink effects to create more subtle fades,
> which means we canít clean them or print them wet, so they have to
> be hand-cleaned very carefully. The sound is already restored from
> the original mag, and sounds excellent.
> 29: MERCI MERCI (1966)
> The originals for this were lost by Will in the 1970s or earlier.
> There are two very good original reversal prints I removed from
> Canyon to conserve and use as sources for a new negative.
> FFFTCM (1967)
> The originals (ABC reversal) have lots of hand-applied tape and
> even ink effects, and as early as the mid-Ď70s were deemed
> unprintable by Will himself. However, I think they can be
> printed, but need a lot of hand cleaning and care, which I have yet
> to perform. The sound is already restored from the original mag,
> and sounds great.
> BILLABONG (1968)
> I borrowed these originals from MoMA, and discovered them to have
> some major problems, but I think it may all be fixable. The
> biggest problem is that Will wrote his effects notes on little
> stickers that precede or follow a given shot (like ď24 frame fade-
> inĒ, stuff like that). Over the years, these stickers somehow came
> to adhere to the opposite wind of film, so several of them are now
> stuck to the emulsion of the preceding or following wind. Also, a
> lot of the film is hand-tinted black and white stock, and there are
> some hand-applied tape effects too, most notable in the filmís one,
> er, ecstatic sequence, for those of you who know it. So again, it
> has to be done VERY carefully, but I think we have a good chance of
> making the originals printable again.
> I also borrowed these original reversal ABC rolls from MoMA, and
> theyíre in pretty good shape, but not perfect. But they are
> printable, and with some cleaning and care, will yield excellent
> results. No color fading, and the hand-applied tape effects seem
> to have all been done with metal sensing tape, which seems nice and
> sturdy on the film, and shouldnít be bothered by cleaning or
> wetgate printing.
> The originals are lost, which is REALLY a bummer. But a few good
> Kodachrome prints have turned up in unexpected places, so the plan
> is to dupe the best Kodachrome print to a new internegative. The
> film was shot on 7255 ECO for the most part, which is low contrast
> and generally yields a very nice Kodachrome (7387) print, with not
> too high of contrast or density, meaning it can be duped to a new
> internegative with fairly good results.
> I have the originals, and theyíre actually in really good shape,
> but there are 7 shots on now-faded color print stock. I thought
> this was an insurmountable problem, until I discovered the roll of
> effects negative that MADE the 7 shots. So the plan is to reprint
> the negative, make replacement sections for those 7 shots, swap
> them into the original ABC rolls for printing, then make the new
> internegative. Sound restoration was already done, replicating the
> original mix from the original A/B cut mags, using an optical as a
> guide. The results match the optical exactly, but sound much
> better, i.e. sound like the lost original mixed mag wouldíve sounded.
> The originals are lost, but I have access to a very nice Kodachrome
> print, so we can follow the same plan as Pastorale díete and
> Watersmith.
> PASTEUR3 (1976)
> Found the originals at Deluxe. No mag, but the original optical
> track, at least. The original reversal ABC rolls have some color
> fading, but I havenít looked at them in a few years, so I need to
> re-examine to get a better idea of what to do here. I also retired
> a good print from Canyon just in case, but itís a 7389 or 7390
> (canít remember which) Ektachrome print, so it has mild fading too.
> Willís last film has been seen by very few people and was never
> circulated. Right before his sudden death, he wrote a letter to
> Canyon in which he said he would be placing a print of this film
> there very soon, but died before it could happen. The originals
> seem to be lost, but I have a good 7399 reversal print from them.
> Itís currently the only print in existence. The plan is basically
> to dupe the print, since itís all that can be done.
> Hope this information was of interest. Happy to answer any
> questions if I can. Iím really annoyed at myself for not yet
> finishing the restoration of one of these films, but each one Iíve
> started investigating ends up being a massive labyrinthine problem,
> with weird impediments, usually things beyond my control or things
> I just have to wait on, like access to a temporarily unobtainable
> element. But in the coming several months, in light of some
> modifications Iíve made to my budgeting and even to my way of
> approaching the numerous simultaneous projects Iím dealing with, I
> have plans to work on and finish a few!
> As for digital transfers:
> For one thing, Will, in his lifetime, apparently harbored an
> understandable dislike for how his films appeared on video (note Ė
> he died in 1987). His estate, which consists of a couple that were
> his friends and neighbors in Alabama, have told me that they intend
> to respect those feelings of his, and in fact one stipulation they
> made to allow me to work on the films was that I would not transfer
> them to video. Of course we all know that there have been absurdly
> major advances in the quality of film-to-video reproduction, so
> Willís concerns in the mid-Ď80s are incredibly out-of-date now.
> Last I heard, they were more open to it, but itís contingent on a
> number of things. Itís quite possible. I havenít spoken to them
> myself in some time.
> As to the general subject of transfers though, usually the biggest
> impediment is money. Who can pay for it? Criterion paid for all
> the Brakhage transfers, and will probably turn a profit on the
> release because theyíre a respected and recognizable brand, so to
> speak. And Brakhage is one of the more well-known avant-garde
> filmmakers. Almost all of Su Friedrichís work also came out in a
> series of DVDs, which I think have done pretty well. I donít know
> if new transfers were done, or they just used the existing ones she
> had done film-by-film over many years as she finished each project.
> Plenty of the filmmakers I work with would be happy to have their
> films out on DVD, or at least have nice digital transfers made, but
> it always comes down to who can afford to do it well enough to make
> it worthwhile. Very few DVD companies are willing to spend the
> money, because they just wonít make it back. And I usually canít
> justify it coming out of our preservation budget at the archive
> because it doesnít directly assist the restoration work. However,
> even if I could, every high quality digital transfer I did would
> cost about the same as the lab preservation work on another short
> film, so for me, itís even harder to justify.
> Sorry for the massive post!
> Mark Toscano
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