The year is 1984. My friend Jeff Johnson is taking a film class at Towson
University in Maryland, and for his final project he must create a short
motion picture. Remember, this is 1984, so small handheld video
camcorders are not exactly as ubiquitous as they are nowadays. Super 8mm is
the only way to go!! Good old fashioned celloid film, with sprocket holes
Okay, so Jeff comes up with an idea to make a James Bond spoof. He calls me
up and asks me to play Bond, and gets his two brothers to play some spies.
However, to really dazzle his classmates and teacher, we plan to
use the film technique of stop motion animation, and animate both
myself and Jeff's brothers as if we are driving imaginary cars! (I won't give
a primer on how stop-motion animation works; but basically, it involved taking
a single frame of film, then having me move ever so slightly forward on the
road, taking another single frame of film, moving slightly forward again,
taking another frame of film, repeat ad nauseum.) The end
result, of course, is that when the film is projected at its normal speed of
28 frames per second, it gives the illusion that we are magically driving down
the road on our butts. Very funny to watch! And hence the title of our
spoof (a play on words of the actual Bond film "Live and Let Die").
Anyway, Jeff writes up the script, and over a period of a month, we shoot
the film. It was an absolute blast to make, and the complete story of
its creation is full of many anecdotes and mishaps.
Once it was in the can, Jeff had to edit it and add the musical
score (lifted from my LP of James Bond themes). Finally, we got to view
the complete masterpiece, and needless to say, Jeff got an "A" for his
Jump ahead a couple years, and we discover company that transfers 8mm film
footage to videotape. (Video technology is just then starting to become
more widespread). We pay the bucks, and now we have the movie on VHS (which
is great, since 8mm film projectors aren't exactly easy to find anymore).
Finally, in 2002, I purchased a digital camcorder and some PC software that
allowed me to download my footage and edit it non-linearly. However, my
camcorder also had an analog input, so I cleverly hooked my VCR up to my
camcorder and digitally recorded our movie. Once on my computer, I was
able to convert it to MPEG format, and thus, preserve it forever for years
to come. Now, you to can experience this cult classic cinematic delight
known as LIVE AND LET DRIVE.