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Read my ramblings about life as a Wedding Videographer

  • CBJ Films

I have found a new additiction and it’s name is Super 8 film!

How I stumbled across this lost film format is a few months ago I walked into a Cash Converters on a whim and noticed an old school Super 8 camera on the shelf. It was a Minolta Autopak-8 S 6 and it was going for 100 bucks. Obviously being a student of filmmaking I knew what Super 8 was but I had never used a camera before and had no idea if this particular camera would work in the first place. But I was super curious and so I took the leap and snatched it up.

Source: https://vintagecameradeals.co.za/Minolta-BX-Zoom-Autopak-8-S6-Movie-film-moption-picture-camera-kit
Minolta Autopak-8 S 6 Super 8 Film Camera

The last time I shot something on film was at Flinders University during my cinematography studies. We got to shoot our Honours projects on 16mm film with an Aaton XTR film camera — a very big and scary deal at the time. I wrote and photographed a horror film called “The Horror Film” because back then I was really into (and apparently could also stomach watching) that genre. It turned out alright...

Shooting film requires a certain discipline and knowledge of the basics of cinematography which modern-day filmmaking has made less important. Among other things, the biggest challenge with Super 8 cameras as well as the Aaton XTR there is no video monitor to show you what you’re shooting — and so you’re essentially shooting blind. Therefore you have to be confident that the camera settings you are using will produce a good-looking image in every situation. You need to understand the nuances of film stock and be able to premeditate what type of stocks to shoot on for certain locations; you have to know which part of the image you are exposing for and how to take light readings to ensure that your camera settings will do this; and you have to be diplomatic about what you’re shooting because you’ve only got a limited amount of film to work with.

Image © 2021 Curtis Brownjohn Films
On set of 'The Horror Film' 2010
Source: https://filmcentrecage.myturn.com/library/inventory/show/159434
Aaton XTR Super 16mm Film Camera

This is of course a daunting proposition for kids like me who grew up shooting on digital cameras. I will say though that once you do the research, learn the skills and accurately expose an image on a film camera: it’s incredibly rewarding.

Returning now to my chance encounter with a Super 8 film camera at a pawn shop — I brought the little guy home and dusted it off. I was very impressed by the rather decent zoom lens as I looked through it down the viewfinder. After a bit of googling I figured out that the camera needed just 4 x AA batteries to work. I popped them in, switched it on and pulled the trigger.

“Shututututututututututututut…” It worked! And oh man what a wonderful sound an old school camera gate opening and closing is. Now I just needed some film stock. I jumped on Google again and found Walkens House of Film who provide a variety of indoor and outdoor Super 8 film stock. I ordered a roll of Kodak 50D — a film stock best suited for broad daylight filming. It arrived a couple of days later on a day that was perfect car-washing weather. So Cashmere and I made a little car washing film on the Super 8 camera!

The Minolta Autopak-8 S6 Super 8 camera is a user-friendly model with automatic exposure control, so I just had to trust that the camera would properly set the aperture for whatever I was pointing it at. A successful car washing later I had run through the full roll of film. I found a place in Victoria called Nanolab that processes Super 8 film and mailed the exposed roll over there for a digital transfer. The footage came back a few days later as a HD movie file, 3 minutes and 15 seconds in duration which is what a standard 50ft roll of Super 8 film gives you when you’re filming at the traditional speed of 18 frames per second. Given that it was my first time shooting Super 8 I was over the moon with how good it looked! I whacked it on the timeline all but raw with a cute Jordy Searcy track underneath and this was the result:

I was stoked that I had actually managed to make a movie on old school Super 8 and I was utterly hooked by the authentic vintage look of the film. I immediately ordered more 50D film stock as well as some rolls of 500T. The latter is a highly sensitive tungsten balanced film stock that I knew would be great for shooting wedding receptions. In the weeks and months that followed I began to take my Super 8 camera along to wedding to see what results I could get:

I have also built up a rather impressive collection of Super 8 cameras sourced from various places, including more advanced cameras like the Canon 814XL-S and Canon Auto Zoom 1014 which are absolute beasts that film in higher frame rates and allow for more manual control of shutter and exposure. Suffice it to say I am having the time of my life with this retro film format. I love the imperfections of it — that even though the images can sometimes drift out of focus or get a bit grainy, people understand that it’s simply “the Super 8 look”.

Super 8 Cameras Adelaide
My Super 8 Camera Collection

Thank you for reading! I’ll leave you now with a music video I made on Super 8 for local SA doom metal band Rocky’s Pride & Joy:

  • CBJ Films

It's time to announce the CBJ Awards for 2020! As I look back through the footage from all of these weddings I am not only humbled by the sincere beauty of my job but I am floored by our ability to push on with our plans despite everything that has been thrown at us in 2020.

Congratulations to everyone who has managed to get their weddings done. I am so happy for you and you all deserve medals for your positivity and perseverance. To my couples who have postponed until next season or beyond — stay strong! Your big day will come, it will be totally amazing, and I can’t wait to capture all that energy for you.

It’s become a tradition here at Curtis Brownjohn Films for me to cut together a little montage of all the weddings I’ve filmed over the last 12 months and bestow fun little awards to my couples. But before I announce the winners of the awards this year, I would like to take this opportunity to thank a few very important people without whom my business would disintegrate.

First and foremost to my wife Cashmere. My love, you are an incredible person, a force to be reckoned with and I don’t know what I would have done this year without you. Not only did you get the both of us and our businesses through a global pandemic but you have now filmed a handful of weddings with me and I couldn’t be more grateful or proud of how much you’ve learnt. Thank you for your kindness and empathy for everyone around you and your ability to focus pull like a total boss.

I would also like to say a special thank you to legends of the industry and all-round top blokes Cameron Averay, James Donovan and Stephen Ludwig. My friends, thank you for gifting me with your live stream, drone and camera operating talents and putting up with my terribly confusing direction. You enrich my work in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

To all of the wonderful vendors I work alongside from the photographers and wedding stylists to the musicians and celebrants (you know who you are), thank you for helping me to make these films all the more magical. I wish you all the success and happiness in the year to come.

Last but not least I would like to thank you, my couples, for choosing me to film the most important day of your lives; for your faith and trust in me throughout this sh*tstorm of a year; and for your patience and gratitude as always. You’ve all been wonderful humans and you continue to give me the best job in the world.

And so, without further gilding the lily and with no more ado, I give to you, the Curtis Brownjohn Films Award recipients for 2020!

Kathryn & Ross — Best Music

The tune-age for this wedding was absolutely mental. A brass band flash mob, acoustic duo plus a rocking band for the rest of the night — these guys had it all. Not to mention guest appearances from several members of the family!

Nicole & Luke — Biggest Bridal Party

Among so many other talking points — this was the biggest lineup for a wedding bridal party I've seen to date. To sum it up with a quote from the best man: "I would say congratulations to everyone up here for making the cut, but there's about 50 of us so clearly it wasn't that hard."

Emma & Max — Best DIY Wedding

I love a good country town wedding and this one was next level. Congratulations to Emma & Max and their families for putting on an absolutely incredible show for the big day on the family farm.

Luke & Leighton — Sharpest Suit(s)

What an incredible celebration it was for these two gentlemen and boy did they look the part!

Steph & Cale — "It’s all in the details" Award

For these guys, a beautiful ceremony was followed by an absolutely breathtaking reception at Mandalay House & Garden. Styled by Kiera Blanden Events, the tennis court marquee was an absolute delight from the chandeliers down to the cutlery.

Angela & Chance — Best Love Notes

To kick off another gorgeous wedding day, this pair of lovers wrote each other the cutest of notes to read in the morning. There were tears and laughs at both ends.

Mel & Matt — "Something a little different” Award

My last wedding before all hell broke loose in March was a real treat. Mel and Matt hosted an intimate day time ceremony and reception at Coriole Vineyards with good food, great wine and a trip to the gorgeous cliffs at Blanche Point for sunset shots to cap it all off.

Allie & Matt — Rain Hail or Shine Award

These super troopers hosted one of the most amazing weddings I've been a part of. Not only was everything perfect and immaculately planned by Allie but it all went down under buckets of rain. We had a ball running around the property at Woodburn Homestead getting some truly beautiful shots of the newlyweds and their crew huddled up under their umbrellas.

Rikki & Luke — Best COVID Safe Dancing

Amidst the chaos that was September weddings in South Australia, Rikki and Luke pulled off an absolute corker of a wedding at Barn 1890. Among so many beautiful moments, a highlight for me was the incredible COVID-safe and musical-chairs-inspired dance moves that their friends and family instigated that evening.

Erin & Elijah — Best Venue

It is always a pleasure to film a wedding at Longview Vineyard and I'm so glad my brother and law and his wife chose to host their special day there. As always everything is cosy and close, and on this particular occasion decorated superbly by the happy couple. Not to mention they always provide me with a delicious vegan meal!

Demsey & Andrew — Best Stack & Recovery

I'm so sorry Demsey but I just have to give this award to you!! Your wedding day was so incredible with so many amazing moments but the way you stacked it on your reception entrance and recovered with such a big smile on your face(s) was truly something special.

Garreth & Julie — Best First Dance

After a beautiful wedding ceremony in Kuitpo Forest, we were treated to a wonderful evening at K1 Wines featuring a mesmerising first dance from the newlyweds.

Mahima & Kym — Cutest Couple

The Cutest Couple Award is pretty self explanatory and I think a good majority of my couples are pretty gosh darn cute, I like to think I reserve it for the couple that makes me say "awww" the most during photo locations.

Brittany & Jamie — Most Flower Girls & Page Boys

There was soooo much to say about this incredible wedding but hands down I've never seen so many little ones walk down the aisle. They all did a fantastic job of it too! As well as showering the aisle with petals they provided many moments of comic relief cackling away to everyone's speeches and dancing up a storm.

Jaslyn & Jed — Third Time Lucky Award

My dear friends, I'm so glad that you were able to finally host your beautiful wedding after 3 postponements!! Well worth the wait.

Congratulations to all recipients for 2020! And honourable mentions/awards to my live stream couples:

Michael & Alicia — Best Shed Wedding

Edward & Karolina — Best Disney References

Adriana & David — Best Beach Wedding

Danny & Katrina — Best Dressed

Megan & David — Best English Accent

Alex & Nick — Best Cathedral

Thank you for reading!