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.
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.
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.