By Edward Owen
If any country has mastered the art of propaganda it is Russia, and those of us who taake a point of viewing their films whenever possible know that in this medium the Russians are most expert.
If you wish to see their poisonous propaganda injected into the unthinking poor of the East End, buy a copy of the Daily Worker on Saturday from the fellow who stands at the corner opposite Victoria Station, and go to any of the displays run by Kino, Ltd., of Gray's Inn Road. You will always find one or two of them advertised there. Or if you wish to see the same in more cultured circles go to The Nights of St. Petersburg, at the Academy.
The point I wish to make is this: Cornmunist propaganda is subtle and poisonous in all places where the Communist himself is allowed to penetrate. It is no use arguing that he can write about film, literature, science, etc., as the rest of the pagan world, without offence. He cannot. He has a gospel to preach, and he will gratefuly accept any opportunity to do so, from friend or foe.
To open our English press to a communist from any motive is to challenge him in spite of the strictest sub-editing to " put it over."
I find it difficult to believe that the British Film Institute is unaware of this, and yet there is some evidence of such propaganda behind the official organ of the institute, Sight and Sound, which seems to be communist in sympathy if not belonging to the Communist party.
Perhaps it is premature to call for an official investigation, but if any reader will purchase a copy of the recent issue of the quarterly referred to he can form his own opinion.
Most of us these days use reversal film, that is to say, the exposed film we send to the processing station is returned to us positive. No negative intermediary film is used.
The disadvantage of this compared with the negative-positive method is obvious. Hundreds of prints can be taken from a single negative. The positive print can be used for editing, and the negative itself kept until the final positive edition is put together. This means that for the final printing the negative itself is not cut till the very end.
This does away with all the nervewracking business of cutting the single positive film, as must be done if the reversal method be used,
Fed Your Way
Experience, however, hardly confirms the theorist in these matters, and the cutting of a single reversal film may be easily undertaken, provided always two simple principles are observed: cut gradually.
This takes time; but don't hurry. Feel your way. Secondly, always edit the film through the projector. In my opinion, the editing bench for sub-standard is practically useless.
If we could see the moving picture as in the case of the standard Moviota, it would be different. But for the purpose of cutting sub-standard film accurately a series of consecutive stills is not enough.
How often do we find, for instance, that a position has to be held for several frames to register at all? And how can the average amateur find the necessary rhythm in his picture unless he "feels" fo. it. A Pudovkin might, for all I know, be able to work this out mathematically, but the ordinary sub-standard worker must go slowly.
Problem To Solve
One day an ideal projector for editing alone will be put on the market, which will allow the editor to cut and splice his film without disturbing the reels on the projector. At present we have to make shift with the ordinary apparatus, motor driven, using a lamp many times more powerful than is necessary.
Having edited the reversal film a pro blem immediately presents itself. As a copy must be made to ensure silent and safe projection, is it better to have a negative dupe made of the positive and then to print the other copies from that; or should we have another reversal film printed directly from the positive?
Of the two, the former gives slightly the better results. There is a difference of opinion on this point, and really not a great deal to choose between them.
Speaking of splicing. How many amateurs have you met who could do it well? To many it is just a bogey: and having gone through all this distress of mind myself perhaps I can give one or two useful hints.
Haste Is Fatal
First, buy the best splicer you can afford, or, better still, the one you just cannot afford. It will save hours of exasperation and make the work a pleasure instead of the bugbear you have hitherto known. I myself always use a Craig for silent film and the Bell and Howell for talkie. 1 he reason for this difference I Must remember to speak of another time.
Secondly, use the cement advised by the makers of the film stock you are using. Very often we discover that our titles are on one brand and the pictures on another. We try to join them permanently and fail.
In this matter prevention is better than cure. Ask the firm that is making your titles to use the same film stock you have used in the picture.
Thirdly, when you have scraped all the emulsion off the end to be spliced, apply the cement to cover the bared celluloid and leave pressed down for a sufficient length of time. Many splices are ruined by undue haste.
In all film work haste is fatal.