Wednesday, 22 February 2017

16mm film workshop with Hands On Film Lab

On Tuesday I participated in a 16mm film workshop with Hands On Film Lab, organised as part of the NewBridge graduate scheme.



In the morning we were shown the 16mm film camera and were taught how to use it. Then we were given some time to go into Newcastle and shoot some footage. We experimented filming at different speeds (the number of frames per second), and tried double exposing whereby we filmed for a set period of time, then wound our footage back to the point we just started the filming from. We then filmed another scene. When developed and played, there will be two layers to the film.


In the afternoon we talked through the developing process and in the daylight we had a go at loading a test film into the developing tank. It is a fiddly job in broad daylight, let alone in the pitch black! We headed into the darkroom to mix all the chemistry. Leah loaded the film into the tank (in the dark), and we began developing the film.

 The process is as follows:

1. Rinse - fill the tank with water and pour out

2. Develop - Pour the developing solution into the tank and agitate for the first minute.The agitation helps eliminate adhesions in the film that will cause the film to not get developed in certain areas. After the first minute just give it a shake for 10
seconds every minute or so. Develop for 6 minutes. Pour out developer.

3. Stop - Pour the stop into the tank and agitate. This prevents the film from developing any more. Pour out the stop.

4. Fix - Pour the fixer solution into the tank, and give the tank a shake or two every minute. Pour out the fix after 4 minutes.

5. Give the tank a final rinse with water and pour out the water.

6. Photoflo (optional) - Pour a photoflo into the tank in order to reduce water spots. Pour out the photoflo.

7. Remove the film from the tank and untangle it.

8. Hang the film to dry


Following this procedure develops the film as a negative, so dark areas become light and the whites of the image become dark.

We then left the film to dry overnight, and today we went to the Hands on Film Lab to view our film. To say it was a first attempt, I was pretty impressed by what we had produced, and would like to do more in the future.




Hands on Film is a female run and facilitated film-lab in Newcastle Upon Tyne, dedicated to the transmission of knowledge in photochemical film practice – filming, developing, processing and editing. The Lab also offers a low-cost or subsidised entry to the medium for those who might for educational, geographic or socio-economic reasons find this difficult. Photochemical film is a vibrant and exciting medium with unique opportunities for artist projects in moving image.

Hands On Film create a space of engagement via hand-processing techniques and photo-chemical experimentation. Small scale, artisanal production facilities offer a personal and reflexive approach to celluloid, and there is an ethos of skill-sharing through self and peer led education.

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