Bell & HOWELL; Ana Rodríguez León; 8mm & Super 8; TRT: 8.56
A trip from the past to the future via the camera.
What was your creative process?
In 2010, I was part of the team of the Super 8 festival Toma Única, a kind of tourné-monté cinema festival. It was decided to make a collective movie, where every member of the team would shoot a work under the common theme: message in a bottle. That was the very beginning of Bell & Howell 2146 XL, which was later distributed independently from that project.
It took me a long time to get to a visual and narrative proposal for that idea, but everything became clear in the end, one afternoon at my grandmother’s house. That was the day when I found the Super 8 projector and other items for analogic edition that had belonged to my grandfather. I already had his Bell & Howell 2146 XL camera, but when I saw all the materials to shoot, edit and see Super 8 movies, I thought that was the message in a bottle for me, a message from a filmmaker to another, a hidden oportunity to build my identity as a filmmaker, in a poetic dialog with my own story and my own hypothetical future –or the future after my death-, all through the central figure of the camera.
This was my first work in first person in this way. Documentary and fiction mixed up together very naturally, but I found the real sense of the whole in the editing room, seeking for a hidden mystery in the images, that led to the final result.
The music I used, from spanish band Balago, brought a very hypnotic atmosphere to the work, that I believe took it further.
Is this inspired by a true story?
The pictures that appear in the work are my grandfather’s original pictures. As an amateur photographer, he portrayed his life and the life of his family and his town. So, in a sense, it is a true story, but it is also a fiction, based on the idea of what will happen to this camera after I have died. Who would have it? Would he or she, in the case of the film, use it? What would she see through the lens?
Even it’s every time more difficult to shoot in analogic formats, and it’s unlikely they will still be used in 2060, it was a great resource for the film to imagine the story this way. It was more about secret connections between people, through objects, than a realistic scenario of this future.
Was the house/space of any relevance?
The house where this couple appears in the future time it was the house where my parents were moving at that moment. As it was being remodeled, it had this aspect, which I thought was great, as it can give you the idea that these two people are building something, starting their own story. They look happy and in love and they portray this moment of their lives with the Bell & Howell 2146 XL.
In low budget (when there is any budget at all) projects, it’s some times difficult to find inner domestic spaces that give you a good result. When you use a house where you live or where someone close does, it’s complicated to make it fit with a story, as there are things everywhere full of information, connotations out of your control. The furniture, for instance, gives you the idea of what kind of people live in a house, what age they have, how much money they earn, and so. If you have the possibility to dispose all the elements in the way that suits your story that is fine, but here, where the action took place in the future, it would have been a huge process. This empty house lacked of most of those informations and had an austere beauty that I liked, and at the same time showed some elements, like doors, windows, the floor etc, very particular of some old Barcelona’s houses, linked to my own memories.
It was a great luck to have this space for this film.