Shooting An 8mm Vampire Short Film With The New Kodak Super 8 Camera

Last week I got a chance to shoot on the new Kodak Super 8 camera on a new short film. Below, I share a quick behind the scenes look into this project and my experience with the camera.

In the next few weeks, I will be sharing a more detailed review of the new Kodak Super 8 Camera, along with test footage and stills.

But for now, here’s how this short film came together –

The Challenge: A Single Roll Of 50D

Recently I made a goal of shooting a short film every month in 2024. Both as a means to experiment with my craft, and share the results & process here with all of you.

Having just come off my fourth feature film production, I was feeling re-energized, and ready to dip my toe back into the short form world.

My goal was to try wildly different approaches with each monthly short. One might be entirely improvised. Another could be shot in a single take. Some will be shot on cinema cameras, others on a mirrorless camera or iPhone.

Around the same time I had the idea to do this, I came across the Straight 8 one-cartridge competition. It’s been a while since I took part in a filmmaking contest, but the more I learned about Straight 8, the more fun I thought it would be to try.

Straight 8 challenges filmmakers to make an entire short film on a single roll of 8mm film. The films are edited in camera, and the exposed film is sent to Straight 8 to process, scan, and judge as part of their selection process.

The soundtrack is created by you (separately) and uploaded to them directly. They combine your film and audio track on their end, so you never actually see your film until it premieres. The top 25 films screen during BFI and the top 10 during Cannes.

I’ve now made two short films as part of this competition, both in collaboration with actor / filmmaker Josh Pafchek. The first one, which we shot last fall, was partially filmed underwater (on 8mm!).

The more recent Straight 8 short film we made is called Gaze. It was shot on a single roll of 50D in about 4 hours in Malibu, CA.

Picking A Concept

Before settling on a concept, Josh and I explored a range of different ideas. Some were traditionally narrative, others more experimental. But all aimed to do something unique with the 8mm format.

One idea in particular almost got made, but after four script drafts it didn’t feel right. The story felt like it needed at least 5 – 7 minutes, and when shooting 18fps (a contest requirement), your total runtime is roughly 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

I keep a running list of film ideas on my notes app. Some are fully fleshed out with loads of detail and plot points. Others are just a character sketch or theme to explore.

One of my notes was a purely visual concept I once imagined. In my mind, I saw a bright day at a dramatic looking beach, contrasted by a vampire looking at the camera.

The dichotomy of a beautiful landscape next to an eerily dark character was interesting to me. But there was no story, just a vibe.

As an exercise, I challenged myself to write a draft of the script in 10 minutes. It was only 3 pages, and I’ve been writing a lot lately. So I worked from instinct and theme, and came up with a first pass – trying not to overthink or overwork it.

After a few drafts back and forth with Josh, it settled into place and took form. It felt right for an 8mm film of this nature.

It wasn’t simply a visual experiment (as it has a narrative component), but also wasn’t written as rigidly as most narrative projects would be.

Shooting & Editing In Camera

As I’ve written about before, I love imposing intense limitations on the creative process. It is one of the best ways to come up with new ideas and work intuitively.

On this project, the biggest positive limitation was having to edit the film in camera. As a byproduct, it opened up a lot of creative opportunities.

There was one moment when we weren’t sure if a specific cut would work, or if we would jump the line. Without the benefit of playback (or a second take), we decided to throw in an insert shot to re-set the line. That shot ended up being one of my favorites from the day.

There was also a lot of room to come up with new ideas in between key story beats.

We knew roughly where we had to be at the 25% mark, the midpoint, the 75% mark, and the end. That kept our timing somewhat grounded, but then we could play between the lines.

In one moment we were approaching the midpoint, but only 35% of the way through the roll. That gave us some extra time to linger on an important shot, and also capture additional coverage.

For anyone attempting a Straight 8 film in the future, my biggest practical tip is this:

Always call action before you roll. At least when cutting on action.

Force of habit will make you want to start rolling first, and then call it. Like you would if you were shooting to edit normally. But since you are editing in camera, you have to be super careful about timing out those cuts.

Remember you should be in editor mode as much as director / DP mode at all times. A really fun creative challenge.

Using The New Kodak Super 8mm Camera

I’ve been so curious about the new Kodak Super 8mm film camera since it was first announced. And was lucky enough to get one on loan from Kodak in Hollywood for a couple of days.

One thing I always appreciate is when cameras are intuitive to use. Particularly when you don’t have a lot of time to familiarize yourself before a shoot.

After testing it for about an hour the night before the shoot, I knew it would be smooth sailing. The menu system was clean and easy to navigate. And because it’s film, there is only so much set up required.

I shot the title card on my computer screen the night before our main production. That gave me a chance to see how confidently the film ran through the gate, and how reliable the camera seemed to operate.

On the day, all of this made for a really smooth and easy shoot. Not to mention, having an LCD screen / video assist, which I never thought I would see on a Super 8mm camera.

Shooting digitally, we take for granted having a flip out LCD. With most 8mm cameras, you can’t just grab them from a top handle and run and gun at a low angle. At least if you want to see what you’re doing…

The ergonomics of this camera (including having a top handle with shutter button), allowed us to get some really unique angles not otherwise possible.

The battery life was pretty amazing too. We shot for several hours (including a bonus roll of test footage) and only lost one bar.

There’ll be lots more to share about the camera soon, so stay tuned for my full review.

Making The Soundtrack

We made this film right at the deadline for Straight 8, leaving very little time to create a soundtrack.

Thankfully, I already had unearthed some previously unused original music composed for an old feature. In a short editing session, I was able to re-tool some of these cues and mix them with natural sound / background texture to create a soundscape.

Without seeing the footage, I aimed to time out the music to the major story beats. I knew pretty well where we would be at 30 seconds, 90 seconds, etc. And I knew there was going to be a strong musical crescendo toward the very end, so it didn’t take much guesswork to line up the sound.

That said, I still haven’t seen it. And won’t for some time – so let’s see how well it times out in reality!

More To Come Soon

Once the film is available publicly, I’ll be sure to share it on the blog so you can see how it turned out. And I will also publish my own thoughts on the results once I’ve actually seen it.

Overall, I highly recommend taking part in Straight 8. Even if you have never shot film, it’s a fun and easy way to get started with it. And the positive limitations that it offers work wonders for your creative process.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more on this, the Kodak Super 8 camera, other short film experiments, and much more!

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About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!


  • George

    Cool stuff, Noam!

  • This seems like an incredible project, I love Super 8 myself. I have done a few short films myself on the Kodak 514 XL and I love the vintage, organic look. Cannot wait to see it Noam! Cheers from Canada!


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