Did Mrs. Tharpe know what she was unleashing when she gave me permission to do a music video for an 11th grade English project?

Or even more when she watched me play it back in class, a music video with no sound track. Did she have a clue about the odd song with lyrics we might call remix? Bits of James Joyce, Lewis Carroll, childhood poetry, likely swirled with acid trips?

Yep, it was in 1980 that I made my first film. I don’t remember the genesis of the idea, but I got in my head to produce a literal version of the Beatles I am The Walrus. Lacking a Wikipedia or even an internet, I remember being stumped on figuring out what Semolina Pilchard meant (so it was ignored).

I filmed it using my parent’s 8mm home movie camera mostly in the back yard of our suburban Baltimore home. Technically this was a group project with two other classmates- Kevin, whom I am still friends with today, who likely saw my madness and went along with it, and Scott, who played the “lead” and likely had no clue what I was doing (he laughed through the entire filming). I can see in it that two more friends, Larry and Marc, played parts, as well as my older sister Judy and even our neurotic dog, Sunny. I have a cameo, helping kick Edgar Allen Poe. Yep, I remember that UMBC t-shirt.

“I am the Walrus: leaps and claims Scott (center) as Kevin (left) and Marc (right) take notice.

There’s also some Monty Python-ish paper stop motion animation. If I remember correctly, the camera had a single frame shooting mode.

I still have the paper storyboards I made meticulously (aka neurotically), hand drawn boxes, broken down to every line in the song:

The film was edited on one of those double reeled machines you would through by hand, a strange machine I had found exploring the wonderland of my family basement.

Editing then was not command C / command V but done using a razor on the machine to cut and the using real tape to secure the pieces together. That tape was still holding it together 38 years later.

The reel has been sitting in a box of film stuff of mine for likely all 38 years since. I took it out a few months ago and found inside the box a surprise, my first notes on making notes on the lyrics and time lengths.

Movie Rights...


Movie Rights… flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

Now, in 2018, I finally sent the precious out to ScanCafe for digitizing. I strongly recommend them for digitizing old media.

Since the original is silent I put in a sound track that using a cover that Andyboy 63 created on YouTube.

That’s enough ado, here you can see my high school movie chops:

Actually I am rather impressed with myself, at least one person can be. I have no idea what my friends thought as I just told them what to do. They obliged, no idea why. I had the whole vision in my head.

I claim to be the walrus, myself.

Goo goo g’joob.


Featured Image: High School Video flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. This is really good stuff! I am very impressed by the editing back with tape and then tape that tapes together the tape. I did that kind of editing with audio back in the day (1980s college radio) but never video. I loved how it felt like magic that you could cut and connect the tape back together and it just…worked!

    The design and conception here are just fantastic. Thanks for sharing!

  2. It is a fun one to see your video from all those times ago, even though it is in a colour one because it was after 1963.

    Plus, because you were remixing even then. It would be fun to see other things that you have in your old junk trunk that you could turn into examples of art from the olden times that you made.

    It is always a good time When I get an email that says you made another blog post.

    Well, bye!

    Your #TrueFriend,

    @iamTalkyTina

    Plus, hi Christina!

  3. That’s hilarious! I remember when you were filming. I must have been too cool to participate! That might be the only video of good ol’ Sunny. How many eggs were harmed in the making of that film?

  4. Building those skills! I was first introduced to you and your video editing work with the “Dim the Lights: The DS106 show” of 2013! Still tracking…

  5. Great stuff! Kudos to Mrs. Tharpe for conceiving something that would generate your response and then accepting it. So many question- what was the assignment? what was the grade? what were her comments?
    I love it! I wonder if she ever used it in any presentations?

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