Top Ten Tips for Single Cartridge

Top Ten Tips for Single Cartridge


With the rise in popularity of the Single Cartridge Super 8mm challenge, we thought we’d bring you our Top Ten tips for not only a successful and stress free shoot, but also to get a good film to boot!

There’s a definite skill to shooting a three minute film, in shot by shot order, in camera, with no edits – read our hints ‘n’ tips and then have a go!

1 – Question: Does your story lend itself to the single cartridge approach? Don’t be over ambitious, sometimes simple is best, and a stripped down story that grabs will always win out.
2 – Decide which comes first, soundtrack or images. This sounds like a no brainer but it’s important – which do you feel most confident with, shooting your film to a pre-prepared soundtrack, or shooting your film and stitching the audio round it later?
3 – Do you know your camera inside out and has it been serviced? Do you know its quirks if it misbehaves and how to recover if it does? Is it responsive when you press the trigger? Remember, if you make a mistake or something unexpected happens, there’s no going back!
4 – Plan, plan and double plan – the more planning you do the easier and more fun the shoot will be!
5 – If it’s sound first, why not take it with you on an iPod or mobile phone? If you’ve done a storyboard you could even cut that to your soundtrack and have it with you on location – you’ll then have the exact running times with you when you shoot.
6 – If you do your images first, time everything and write it all down – you’ll then have the accurate framework you’ll need to develop your soundtrack.
7 – Don’t forget the basics. Measure your shots for focusing with a tape measure, so you don’t ‘go soft’. Check your exposure levels and use ‘manual’ where appropriate. Keep an eye on your film meter, why not stick some tape on it and add marks and notes you’ve got to hit during your shoot to meet the storyboard plan. One cartridge (50 feet) of Super 8 film lasts 2:30 at 24fps or 3:20 at 18fps – the rest you can work out from there!
8 – Get help, the more people the better – one to manage the storyboard and shots, one to take timings, one for continuity – the more the merrier!
9 – Don’t panic if you start to drift from your planned shoot. If some shots are a bit longer, just make the next ones shorter. As long as you don’t run out of film everything’s fine!
10 – Have fun, it’s not meant to be a chore!

Shooting Super 8mm for a Single Cartridge film festival can be a challenging prospect, but with a bit of thought and some reasoned planning you’ll be making films you can really be proud of!

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