Brian Dewan Re-Invents The Filmstrip

The Filmstrip was no doubt originally invented by some kindly gentleman who wanted kids to be able to catch up on their sleep while in school. The darkened room, the white noise whoosh of the projector fan, the droning unadorned soundtrack, the hypnotic, repetitive change-the-frame chime, the boring and trivial subject material – all combined to lull entire classrooms of nine-year-olds into somnolence.

Brian Dewan, blessed with a subversive sense of humor and more talent than should ever be allowed to reside in one person, has hand-crafted a series of modern-day equivalents which, in many cases, provide simulations of filmstrips as they might have been created by paranoid schizophrenics given free rein to build the case for their delusions within the orderly, locked-up, relentless world of the filmstrip.

The art, the music, the writing – all brilliantly done by Brian – lift you into an alternate dimension that is as laugh-out-loud-funny as it is strange and unsettling.

You must see these – they are dark, hilarious, wildly entertaining pieces. You’ll want to keep this DVD next to the player so that you can present excerpts to unsuspecting visitors.

Sadly, the trailer below offers the only online samples from the disc, and while it captures the flavor of Brian’s remarkable artwork, it ignores the narration, with its deadpan humor, and the classic clunk-clunk-clunk of the filmstrip experience (it even adds camera moves on the artwork; what were they thinking?) and thus, it doesn’t even give you a hint of the delights that await you.

I would easily place this DVD in my top five of all time. I’ve been waiting for this DVD, hoping for this DVD, ever since seeing my first Brian Dewan Eye Can See Filmstrip. Best feature? It says “Volume 1″ on the cover.

Focus: The Collected Filmstrips of Brian Dewan (Volume 1)

  • Share/Bookmark

Making The Most Of Your Home Entertainment Dollars With DVDs

Let’s say your always wanted your very own personal copy of Ray Harryhausen’s The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.

It’s 1968. What are your options?

Two, essentially. A 16mm print, if you happen to know someone with a lab connection that could get you a bootleg copy. Price? Again, depends on who you know, but color features back then went for about $500 on the black market. (I’ll be taking a few of my old 16mm color features out to the curb on Monday, because the film stock has faded horribly; the only color left is pink [or 'Eastman Rose,' as it's sometimes called]). The features were fun in their day, I got plenty of use out of them, but are valueless today.

But let’s say you’re an upstanding citizen. You want whatever the industry would offer you in an official, sanctioned release. Well, you’re in luck, because that very title, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, is available. Here’s the page from the 8mm Home Movies from the Famous Hollywood Studios of Columbia Pictures Corp. Catalog:

A library of four “complete” home movies. Each one is an edited segment taken from the original feature film, which runs 88 minutes. But – what is “complete?”

What indeed. The four “complete” films, together, run 40 minutes, “approximately.” The “short” releases took longer to thread up in the projector than they did to watch.

We’ll ignore the silent versions, which waste precious screen time on inserted titles, and we’ll ignore the black and white versions, because this is a color film. We’ll simply note that “approximately” means “under” and that “complete” fully deserves the quotation marks it is given in the catalog. We’ll also note in passing that the color on 8mm commercial releases was usually pretty awful and that the sound was often muffled.

OK, so for forty minutes – half the feature, basically – four “complete” color and sound segments… $75.80 in 8mm. We will note, but not comment on the fact that the redundant “Extra Long Length” versions are a buck less than the “complete” versions, which puzzles us to this day.

Today, the special edition DVD, which contains an hour-long documentary on Harryhausen and other extra features, is $17.99 at Less than the price of a “complete” ten minute excerpt in 1968.

In 2007 dollars, the Amazon DVD is… uh… $17.99

In 2007 dollars, the four 1968 Columbia “complete” color and sound films are: $442.19.

In supermarket pricing terms, that’s $11.05 per minute for 8mm and 20 cents per minute for DVD, unless you add in the supplemental features, which would make the “complete” cost “approximately” under 9.8 cents a minute for DVD.

So get out your old 8mm projector, turn it on, listen to the racket and smell the dust burning off the projection bulb while you watch the DVD if you want a good old-fashioned home movie night at home in extra long length.

  • Share/Bookmark