The Culture Crush
Society Is Everybody's Business
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The Weekly

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED

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Telling stories is at the heart of what we do at the The Culture Crush. Whether it is stories about super heroes , local heroes, fighter pilots or cheerleaders. We know that the key to telling a story well is knowing the right way to tell it.

For us, it’s important to keep our thematic language the same while also knowing that what makes for a good photo essay doesn’t necessarily make for a good film. Heck, what works for an article in print might not work for an article on a digital platform. However, in this age of pivoting to video (and then pivoting right back) it is tempting to try to make a 1:1 transcription of all pieces across all mediums.

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At The Culture Crush, we never had “to pivot to video” because we have always made videos. After photographing, filming, recording interviews and original music over a period of weeks, we not only end up with beautiful portfolios of photography for our broadsheet print edition, features for our website, and interviews for our podcast, but also more than enough material to make one of our favorite forms of storytelling: our short super 8 films. Working this way allows us to not only understand what our videos look and sound like, but also how they move and live. We consider all things.

It is not as though we ask ourselves “how do we tell this same story as a film” or “how do we turn this article into a video?” Or just shoot b-roll as an afterthought. Instead, we go out into the world armed only with our endless curiosity, a four-track recorder, a couple of Leica’s, and a handful of super 8 cameras collecting materials to bring back to the studio. Then the magic happens…

We see this magic in Malcolm Jackson’s film Bold City Blues. He takes us around his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. We get an inside look at the daily lives of his community in way that is pure and without pretense. Film has a way of bringing out intimate portraits and moments in a way an iPhone just can’t. No one poses duck-faced at a Cannon 814XL. Watch his movie here.    

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We can’t talk super 8 without mentioning Phil and Rhonda Vigeant, which is why we figured we’d travel to super 8 ground zero in Hollywood to speak with them directly. It’s easy to chalk up super 8, and any archival form of technology for that matter, to a nostalgic way of doing things, but we don’t believe it is. During our chat, one theme that kept coming up was the timeless importance of archival storytelling. It’s something that has remained a necessity even in, and if not especially, the current digital age. Read our interview The Art and Science of Super 8 here. 
 
It will always remain vital to our culture to document our memories, no matter the medium. Phil and Rhonda help keep this alive with their work. It’s relationships like these that help mold communities and bind us together over shared ideas and creations. 

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When we were discussing Super 8 film and its relationship to the digital age with the folks at Pro8mm, Phil Vigeant told us the story of Lenny Lipton and his long history with Super 8. Lipton is an inventor, experimental filmmaker, author, and lyricist of the song “Puff the Magic Dragon,” which, like Super 8 filmmaking, has managed to endure the test of time. He’s also responsible for the basis of most 3D technology used in theaters and TV. After hearing all of his accomplishments, we decided to call him up to get some insight straight from the source. Lipton credits a lot of his access to Kodak and other professionals in the film industry to his time as an editor at Popular Photography and a columnist at Super 8 Filmmakers Magazine.

This got his foot in the door and helped him get the tools he needed for his experiments. Combining his Cornell University physics degree with his prior knowledge of Super 8, Lipton started experimenting with depth in film. He told us, “I wanted to do experiments with moving images rather than still photography. I established a small laboratory int he late ’60’s that I also lived in, in Port Richmond, California. Being in the Bay Area, I was able to get a lot of equipment and a lot of cooperation. I had two projectors and pairs of Nizo and Beaulieu Super 8 cameras. I did many experiments over a period of years.”

By experimenting with two Super 8 cameras, Lipton was able to create the system of 3D projection that is still in use today. He used his royalties from Puff the Magic Dragon to fund this research, which we think gives Puff a legacy even deeper than that of his popular counterculture mythological misinterpretation.

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