Sunday, September 15, 2013

showing now - concentric circles

      Mr. Middendorf came to St. John's Lutheran School to our English class to introduce Super 8 filmmaking. My teacher Mrs. Ohlman told me later that it was really an experiment on his part. It was the BEST thing that happened to me in eighth grade. Mr. Middendorf ran the Audio Visual department across the street in the basement offices of Link Library. He worked at Concordia Teachers College.
     In front of the classroom, he held up a hand-sized plastic cartridge made by the Kodak company. He said each of us would get one roll to shoot a film. One roll would hold about 3 minutes of action.  After the whole cartridge was used, it would be mailed off to the company in New York to be developed, which took one week. When it came back then our class would check out a film projector, and we would view the film in English class. He had us get in groups to discuss the story for the film.

     I decided to shoot a stop-action animation by myself. Using a camera tripod and a super 8 camera and a clamp spot light, the set up took place at home on our basement floor. The camera was pointed down to the floor, where I had a big sheet of paper for the background. By looking through the camera viewfinder you could see where the edges of the frames were. The story you told needed to be in that framed space. The camera would not move. The tripod kept it steady.
     There were shapes I drew with magic marker on paper. I cut them out with a scissors and laid them down on that background sheet. To make it look like a shape was moving, I needed to shoot three still frames of that shape with the camera, then move the shape by hand just a bit, and then shoot three more still frames, then move the shape by hand just a bit again, and shoot three more still frames. Over and over. The film ran at 18 frames per second. That is when it ran through the film projector. All the little movements happened quickly and made shapes look like they were moving by themselves. There was a shutter cord that you attached to the camera that you pushed in at the end, and that made the camera shoot one picture frame of film.
    So I came up with a story idea first. There was a lot of being on my hands and knees, working around the tripod, careful not to bump it, and carefully positioning cutout shapes with my hands. Then, standing to my feet, going to look through the camera viewfinder, then pushing the shutter cord click click click. Up and down. Back and forth. It took many many movements to shoot stop-action animation.
    It took time one afternoon. Then turn off the spotlight. Tell my brother and mom and dad to stay away from the set up. Go and do other things. And come back and shoot some more on another afternoon when I was free to do it.

    The first animation was named "Out To Lunch." I have more to say about that one. But right now I want to show you the film I just finished. It is named "Concentric Circles."
I got a certificate about it, below. The film was given an Honorable Mention at the Kodak Teenage Movie Awards. Cool, right? Mr. Middendorf thought so. He had me show the movie
to a room full of people.

So, I put the Super 8 film on Youtube with the help of my brother Paul. The film did not have any music or sound to it, so I used a track that Youtube had available for me to add. (
The film is almost two minutes long. Click on triangle button below.

When you are done seeing it, please get back to me on your thoughts. There is a place below the post where you can tell me your thoughts. Tell me what film you are doing now.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

showing now - decker

I put my Super 8 film of "Decker" on Youtube. There is no soundtrack in this version.
The original soundtrack sits on a large tape recorded reel. I do not know how to put it on the film. So, this version is a silent movie. It is 19 minutes long. Enjoy it and add you comments ~~ below to the post.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

the developed film looks good

The developed film looks good. The magic continues.

(left) On the way to the city dump, at the stoplight in downtown Seward, a magical Coove hops out of the back of one truck and climbs into the back of the truck carrying Decker's dead body. As you can see we found a costume for Mike Duensing, complete with a cape and a cap.

(left) City employee Calvin Nordmeyer agreed to run his bulldozer for this scene at the city landfill, just a few miles south of Seward, Nebraska, off Hwy 15.
All it takes is asking grown ups to play a part. Tell them acting is easy. You are the director. Your energy and excitement will win them over. Directing is a lot of work, but it is so much fun. 

When the film comes back from the Kodak developer in New York state, the pieces of film are trimmed and spliced together. Bit by bit this fantastic written story becomes a reality.

(left) I am glad Ron Christie was the Rabbit. He had so much spunk and enthusiasm. It was a hot summer day when we gathered to shoot on site. I know Ron was sweating under his white makeup face and the heavy costume.

I used a tripod to hold the camera steady. Most scenes were shot once.

In the next scene, three Lincoln Continentals roar into the city dump yard, screech to a stop, kicking up the dust. Their doors open, and out pours a number of agents. They run toward and past the camera, in hot pursuit. Cut!

I had asked Luther Klenke from the Campus Center and other campus personnel to fill in. The dark sun glasses and suits are dynamite.
Action! In the woods the cooves are interrupted from their party. My brother Paul was wearing the orange, black, green, and white diamond corduroy pants my mother had sewn for my father. We had a punch bowl on a table. Colored paper streamers and party balloons hang from the tree branches. Cut! Later, I tape recorded voices which I ran at a faster speed to make them sound higher. The cooves ask themselves what is going on. "Where has Decker gone? He has disappeared." I filmed them running around in distress. Cut! Stop the camera. Have actors move out of sight. Move the prop table, punch bowl, and balloons. Then shoot the same scene. Action! When the film is edited the cooves have simply disappeared. Poof!

Suddenly the audience sees Decker walking through the tall grass, alive. There is a closeup of the special ring on his finger. A shot of the cover of the magic book and a close up of the sleight-of-hand illustration in the book. Magic is going on. Decker walks over to a free standing door. He opens it, walks in, and closes it behind him. Cut!

The camera was set up to look at the door from the side view. There is nothing behind the door, just the grass and trees. Action! Up run the agents to the door, banging on it silently with their fists, trying to get Decker. Cut! Action! Shot from the side again, we watch as the door falls to the ground with agents falling over themselves on top of the door. Their faces are puzzled. Where did Decker go? Cut! The film ends with credits.

The film ends up being 20 minutes in length. A separate tape recording of the music and sound is put on a cassette tape. When the film is finished being threaded in the projector, the cassette tape is started at the same time the film starts. The sound is matched to the film without actually being on the film itself. 

Decker --Paul Duensing
First Agent --Gene Oetting
Girl in Bookstore --Lisa Zill
Second Agent --Marcus Zill
Third Agent --Arnold Krugler
Fourth Agent--Theodore Beck
Sun Bathers -- Jane Rolofson and Lisa Zill

Car Driver --Mark Middendorf
Rabbit --Ron Christie
Dwarp --Matt Rutledge
Gas Station Attendant --Roger Glawatz
First Coove --Mike Duensing
Bulldozer Driver --Calvin Nordmeyer
Other Cooves--
Tim Grothaus
David Lange
Paul Marxhausen
Cory Schulz

Other Agents --
Tim Timm
Robert Lemke
Dennis Behrens
Glenn Kraft
Vance Hinrichs
Luther Klenke
Charles Dull
Herman Glaess
William Karpenko
Erich Helge

Kinetic Findings Production
Thanks To:
Richard Bahr's Apartment
The Seward Police Dept.
Lincoln Gateway
Hall of Cards
Otto's Conoco Station
CTC Audio Visual Dept.
Seward Chamber of Commerce (for the rabbit suit)

Special Thanks To:
Brokemeier Ford

Rabbit Makeup:
Dorris Marxhausen
Rhoda Blomenberg
Gary Rolfsmeier
Reinhold Marxhausen
Tim Grothaus

Paul Marxhausen
Costumes by THE CAST
1973 copyrighted Karl Marxhausen

My father made up a handbill and we invited the whole cast over to our house to view the finished film. I tell you making films are the greatest. You should try it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

mixing sound on the living room floor

The reel-to-reel tape recorder is checked out from the Audio-Visual department in the basement of Link Library. Mr. Middendorf showed me how to work it. You can see a sample model in action HERE.

You watch the tape counter which rolls over numbers as the tape feeds through. You decide when the music starts and when it stops. Start at say 005 and stop at 031. There are cords that bring music into the recorder and cords that bring music out. Speaker cords bring music out. Head phone cords bring music out. You can listen to your music and soundtrack with the head phones and no one else in the house has to listen to your starting and stopping commotion. I did the mixing on the living room floor, where I could spread out. The family phonograph was set up there, and the tape recorder. This was before CD players and cassette players. There was no digital anything. But I checked out every piece of equipment from the AV department at Concordia.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

splash - the chase is on

Editing is everything. The "chase after Decker" is one location here--spliced--next to another location in another city--spliced--next to another location. Little clear bandaids of tape with sprocket holes along one side join one segment of shot film with another segment. I checked out a film splicer and clear bandaids from Concordia College. (see how the splicer works)

In the basement of Link Library is the A-V department. This is where I check out the Super 8 camera that I use.



Saturday morning Paul Duensing (left) joins me on Mr. Daum's roof in downtown Seward. Camera on tripod, the small green pool sits inflated and filled with water, and two sunbathers are stretched out on towels, the scene is ready to shoot. Action! Running away, the automatic telephoto zoom follows Decker, as he runs pass the two sunbathers and falls into the small pool, water splashing on to the roof. Cut! 

Move the camera down one flight to a window that looks down to the brick street. On cue, helpers on the roof dump water from their buckets over the side. The camera catches falling water as it passes by window. Cut!
Move down to street level, set up the camera and tripod. The viewfinder frames the open window of my classmate Mark Middendorf (left) as he drives his car forward. Off camera, someone tosses a bucket of water at his windshield. Action! The camera is rolling. Splash! Cut!

Across the street, the red and white pickup is parked. The shot is arranged, the camera up on a stepladder looks down into the back of the pickup. With cushions hidden under an olive canvas tarp, Paul Duensing stands poised on the edge of the tailgate. Action! Decker leans forward and falls face down onto the tarp. Cut!

The camera on tripod is aimed at the back end of the pickup, where Decker still lays face down. Action!

From behind the pickup bed up springs the white-gloved rabbit (Ron Christie) and his side-kick (Matt Rutledge).


The side-kick discovers playing cards in the back of the truck next to Decker's body. This is a visual reminder of the magic surrounding Decker.

In the opening shots of Decker's apartment there are playing cards on a table and a magic book with sleight-of-hand tricks. Near the end of the movie, Decker escapes his tragic death at the city landfill by this magical sleight-of-hand.
Using "silent pantomime" the Rabbit and partner show their delight, climb into the cab, and back the pickup on to the street. Cut!

I plan to record John Phillip Sousa's Stars And Stripes Forever. This will be the music that follows the red and white truck, driven by the rabbit, kidnapping Decker's body all the way out to his burial at the city dump.

Move to another location: the service station. Camera follows the truck off the street to where the truck stops by the gas pumps. A closeup shot through the windshield, and the rabbit makes hand gestures with his white gloves, suggesting the windshield be washed. We learn soon that the gas attendant (Roger Glawatz) is an agent. Camera captures his reaction to the body in the back of the truck. 
A closeup shot has him pulling a silver gizmo from his shirt pocket. A purple spotted button is fastened to his shirt. He is DEFINITELY a secret agent. With another camera angle he bends down and attaches one the hub of the back tire. Another shot shows him securing one to the back tailgate.
The silver gizmos, no doubt homing devices, are in real-life plastic "chrome parts" from a car model kit (see right, and above). A hidden curl of tape makes the devices stick to the vehicle. They look so cool. Just like the devices I have seen on the "Mission Impossible" TV show.

Editing connects the agents at the mall scene, with the agents running after Decker at the Music building, up the flight of stairs, out to the roof to fire their guns, to Decker running across the roof, falling into the pool, watching the water fall past the window, to water splashing against the windshield, to Decker landing face down in the back of the red and white pickup truck across the street. BAM. DONE. And it is believable too. I love directing this movie. I love looking through the viewfinder. The story is coming to life. I am getting some of the film back from the developer. The wait is worth it. The film projector is checked out from the library. More editing awaits me. This is so great.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

tough guys

My pastor Marcus Zill asks me what he has to do to be a secret agent in my movie. "All you got to do is wear a suit, and sunglasses, and look tough," I tell him. He says he could do with a big smile across his face.

Gene Oetting is a professor of education at Concordia Teachers College. He agrees to play a secret agent. There will be four of them. Ted Beck is a professor of music at CTC. He might do it too. Each will wear a colored metal button on his coat. White background with purple spots.

This weekend I shot the mall scene out at Gateway Mall in Lincoln, Nebraska. Decker is minding his own business, when you see the first secret agent sitting on a bench, as Decker walks by. There is a close up shot of the metal button with the purple spots. I want to use Billy Preston's "Outa Space" for the agents chasing Decker. I have a 45 rpm vinyl disc of that cool music. Preston is one my favorite musicians.

I shot the chase scene up the stairway at the Music building on campus. The agents and Decker have no speaking parts. The film is shot silent. I want to tape record a music soundtrack after the film comes back from developing. It always takes a week or more to get the film cartridges back. I shot the agents on the top of the Ruth C dorm. The toy guns are not real. But both agents, Mr. Beck and Mr. Zill, looked tough. Next weekend I want to shoot the falling scene and do the city dump scene with the cars.

My brother Paul Marxhausen (left) and David Lange (below) and Tim Grothaus and Cory Schulz have agreed to play the cooves. Cooves are sort of like elves. Hey, does anybody have costumes we can use?

Friday, June 17, 2011

rabbit kidnapper found

It's all set. Ron Christy has agreed to play the Rabbit character.  He and I are part of the grounds crew at Concordia College. We were talking about the Decker storyline while we clipped bushes Tuesday. The rabbit and his sidekick will kidnap Decker after he falls into the pickup truck from the roof. Ron's character will drive the pickup out to the city dump, where the bulldozer operator will cover Decker's body with dirt. Then, the secret agents chasing Decker will arrive at the city dump in their shiny Mark IV cars. Decker gets away in the end with the help of the elves.

The Chamber of Commerce said they have a bunny costume I can use. Great. We'll do makeup at my house Saturday morning. Mr. Daum gave me permission to shoot the roof scene on top of his department store in downtown Seward. I have two sunbathers lined up, and a small inflatable swimming pool with water that Decker will fall into when he gets shot on the roof.

Phillip Duensing's older brother Paul has agreed to play the main character Decker, and his youngest brother Michael will be playing one of the little elves. When the kidnapper's truck pulls up at the stoplight, Michael will pop up out of the back of the neighboring truck and climb into the back of the rabbit's truck. He will join the elf party out at the city dump as part of Decker's escape. Maybe we can find a cape and hat for Michael. That would be cool.

I found a ringtone for Decker's phone at Link Library. It was on a vinyl LP record of sound effects. I checked the album out and listened to it at home on our family phonograph. I plan to use it on the soundtrack that goes with the film. I plan to use Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein" song when the agents pull into the city dump in their shiny new cars, as they chase Decker. That song will be mixed into James Taylor's "Long Ago and Far Away" song, which will run to the end of the movie and into the credits.