Re: [Frameworks] Will Hindle films

From: Gene Youngblood (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Jul 06 2010 - 19:12:32 PDT

Thanks for this, Mark. Very interesting and encouraging. My never-forget
moment with Will was watching him ink by hand, using a big magnifying glass,
the tiny figure swimming down the single masked-off lane for a couple of

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mark Toscano" <email suppressed>
To: "Experimental Film Discussion List" <email suppressed>
Sent: Tuesday, July 06, 2010 6:29 PM
Subject: Re: [Frameworks] Will Hindle films

> Hi all,
> Indeed, Will Hindle's films are in a difficult state. I’ve been
> accumulating elements and information on his work for some time now – 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 Will’s
> films (Non Catholicam and Saint Flournoy). PFA loaned me the elements for
> FFFTCM that they rescued when Palmer’s 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 it’s insanely complicated.
> Each one would take a long description of why it’s not done yet, five
> years later. Though the time and work hasn’t been wasted, because at this
> point I have a much better sense of what the options are not just for
> those three films of Will’s, 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 don’t know anything
> after that. They’ve basically never turned up, and I’m 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 don’t 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 can’t 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-‘70s 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 “24 frame fade-in”, 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 film’s 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 they’re
> 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 shouldn’t 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 they’re 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 would’ve
> sounded.
> The originals are lost, but I have access to a very nice Kodachrome print,
> so we can follow the same plan as Pastorale d’ete 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
> haven’t 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 it’s a 7389 or 7390 (can’t remember which) Ektachrome
> print, so it has mild fading too.
> Will’s 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. It’s currently the only print
> in existence. The plan is basically to dupe the print, since it’s all
> that can be done.
> Hope this information was of interest. Happy to answer any questions if I
> can. I’m really annoyed at myself for not yet finishing the restoration
> of one of these films, but each one I’ve 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 I’ve made to my budgeting and even to my way
> of approaching the numerous simultaneous projects I’m 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 – 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 Will’s concerns in the mid-‘80s are
> incredibly out-of-date now. Last I heard, they were more open to it, but
> it’s contingent on a number of things. It’s quite possible. I haven’t
> 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
> they’re a respected and recognizable brand, so to speak. And Brakhage is
> one of the more well-known avant-garde filmmakers. Almost all of Su
> Friedrich’s work also came out in a series of DVDs, which I think have
> done pretty well. I don’t 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
> won’t make it back. And I usually can’t justify it coming out of our
> preservation budget at the archive because it doesn’t 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, it’s even harder to justify.
> Sorry for the massive post!
> Mark Toscano
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