UPDATED – On the Set With Kolo Productions

NOTE: This is an update to my original May 28 post (see below).

Having shot the two rolls of film using the Canadian Army Film Unit, Bell & Howell, motion picture Eyemo camera, it was a few days before I had them sent to the lab for processing.

Doing the work was Niagara Custom Lab, in Toronto. Managed by Sebastjan Henrickson, his team processed the roll, and promptly sent it back. They had done a great job.

What wasn’t so good was my camera work and exposure decisions. Challenged by the low ISO 6 of the duplicating 5234 film stock, I struggled to obtain sharp focus along with some severely underexposed scenes. Not willing to post it online as is, I opted to import the footage into DaVinci Resolve and did my best to level, and adjust the material into something that was more ‘palatable’….

However challenging the experience was with the camera, it was a pleasure to be able to setup and film some short clips of the Kolo Production crew at work on their film; The Liberation Men ;

Currently the film is still in post production and planned for a May 5th, 2024 (Dutch Liberation Day), premiere in Ottawa. When it debuts, The Liberation Men will be, “the first Canadian made WW2 feature drama film since 1968!”

The Liberation men Facebook – Facebook

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/c/KoloProductionsFilm

Instagram – Danny Crossman (@kolofilmprod) • Instagram photos and videos

I think my next challenge will be to use a more commercial film stock, and this time, do a better job of exposing and focusing!

© Dale Gervais 2023 

CFPU Eyemo visits a movie set based on a 1945 story.

By chance, I received an email about a production company based in Ottawa, Kolo Productions, who were making a film set in Holland, during WWII. Shooting was scheduled to begin in Kempville, and Merrickville.

The film features a group of Canadian Soldiers, “as they fight against German SS soldiers who refuse to surrender and are against the clock to save a town from allied artillery shelling.” (see more at the official Kolo Productions website here – (https://www.koloproductions.ca/liberationmen.html)

Intrigued, I wondered if Kolo Productions might be interested in having an original 1943, Canadian Army Film Unit motion picture camera available. The original working title for the film project, “Scheldt”, had me thinking about Sgt. Lloyd Millon, a CFPU combat cameraman. Sgt. Millon was assigned to cover the battle of the Scheldt, “During the landing at Walcheren, Sgt. Millon covered the assault, and was working with cameramen of the British Film Unit. As the assault craft he was shooting from neared the beach, it is believed to have sustained a direct hit. All hands on board are listed as missing. The action took place Nov. 1st.

More about his story can be read here: (https://canadianfilmandphotounit.ca/2016/11/10/in-remembrance-sgt-lloyd-millon/) and here, (https://canadianfilmandphotounit.ca/2022/11/01/the-fate-of-sgt-lloyd-millon-known-unto-god/).

Reaching out, I was put in touch with producer/filmmaker, Danny Crossman, who suggested I show up, “May 28th between 1300-1800h (at the intersection of Main St West and St. Lawrence St) if you want to observe and film.”

It turned out to be a beautiful day, and I promptly found a spot near where the film crew was assembled. The day before, I had loaded a 100ft roll of 35mm negative film (5234), which would give me about a minute and a half running time. I had one more roll of 5234 and brought that with me as well. NOTE: During the war, cameramen would have been using Kodak PlusX rated at 40 ASA. The stock I was using was a duplicating negative stock rated at 6 ISO/ASA.

Once Danny called out, ACTION!, I began to shoot and capture the scene from my vantage point. Due to my excitement, and the visual spectacle of it all, I ended up going through the two rolls of film in no time. As backup, I began using my 2021 iPhone 13 mini. I have to say, it sure was a lot easier to shoot with an iPhone than it was using the Eyemo.

On the set of Kolo Productions, an extra takes time to check his phone before the next take, Merrickville, May 28th, 2023. Photo by Dale Gervais.

The B&H Eyemo is spring driven, meaning I had to use a hand-crank to wind up the spring which, when engaging the shutter/trigger, would drive the film through the gate. Set at 24 frames per second, the camera could capture approximately, 20-30 seconds of action on each wind, before the spring was spent, and the camera would stop.

On the set of Kolo Productions – one of the film extra’s poses before the start of the days shoot in Merrickville, May 28th, 2023. Photo by Dale Gervais.

One of the major challenges I encountered using the Eyemo was having to check focus and exposure in the viewing position before rotating the turret and lens into the gate/shooting position unlike other film cameras, which typically use a mirror and prism system. On several occasions, after checking the focus, I would forget to rotate the lens to the shooting position. For more information on the use of the Bell & Howell motion camera please visit, (https://lift.ca/images/gear/1191.pdf)

On the set of Kolo Productions – one of the film extra’s poses with a vintage 1940’s bicycle in Merrickville, May 28th, 2023. Photo by Dale Gervais.

Another challenge I had was keeping track of the amount of film I had shot. Unfortunately, I did find myself framing, focussing, and shooting, when I was actually out of film. This happened on both rolls that I shot that day. When both rolls of film were spent, I started shooting video using my iPhone. You can view a very short video of that here;

On the Set With Kolo Productions; © Dale Gervais, Merrickville, 28th May, 2023

The two rolls of film are now on their way to be processed and scanned by Niagara Custom Lab, in Toronto. Shout out to the team at Niagara Custom Lab, and Sebastjan Henrickson, who are a godsend to anyone wishing to process, scan, or buy 8, 16, and 35mm motion picture film stock.

It will be interesting to see how it all turns out when the rolls get processed. (It reminds me of those early days at York University when my colleague and I would frantically pry our freshly processed Super 8mm film from it’s box and sigh with relief upon seeing a properly exposed image on the film.)

Until then, I will be holding my breath until both film rolls arrive back from the lab. I promise to update this post, regardless of the results.

Lastly, I want to thank Kolo Productions, the whole crew, and especially Danny Crossman, for allowing me to walk around the set and grab some shots of the film crew at work.

© Dale Gervais 2023

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About me

Dale Gervais has been actively researching and documenting the history of the Canadian Film & Photo Unit since 2006. Dale recently retired in September, 2018, after over 36 years with Library & Archives Canada. Dale now works as an independent researcher, with experience in audio visual holdings, video production and more recently doing Archival textual document searches, and photographic scanning.


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