Last summer our friend K dug out an old super 8 movie camera to bring to the beach for a Labor Day outing at Plum Island with a bunch of our friends. I picked up a roll of super 8 film at Ferranti-Dege in Harvard Square. Super 8 film is not easy to find and it’s rather expensive! I was surprised, moreover, to learn that each roll is good for a mere 3 minutes of filming and I’d bought only one roll. It meant we had to be judicious in our cinematographic decisions. K, Joe and I took turns capturing the antics that day.
We agreed that we’d show the film this winter when we were all longing for the summer and beach weather. Finding someone to develop super 8 film is even harder than finding super 8 film in the first place, and it’s not cheap to develop. But K managed to find a place in New York (or was it LA?) and got the developed reel in the mail a couple of weeks ago. Now all we needed was a film projector.
K’s parents have two in their basement, neither of which work. I’ve been on Joe’s case for weeks to see if we have a projector in our basement, and it turns out that we have two from his dad’s house in Newark, but neither of them was in working condition. So between us there were four super 8 projectors, all broken.
That’s where Mr. Science comes in. I won’t go into the full details of how he got one of them working (mostly because I don’t understand what he did). I know that some of belts and plastic parts had deteriorated over time, so in MacGyver-like fashion, he jury-rigged a system using improvised parts, which included several rubber bands. Even then, he couldn’t get the spindles to turn in the same direction. One of them seemed to be stuck on rewind. After several hours, he finally managed to get it working properly. Fortunately, the bulb was still good, because that might be difficult to replace. The projector is easily thirty years old, if not older.
So it looks like we’re all set to screen “Plum Island Bingo” next Saturday night for Joe’s birthday. As a test run, Mr. Science and I watched several of the unlabeled reels that were in the same box as the projector. It turned out to be some footage of him as a wee lad. He hasn’t really changed much.