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Calgary filmmaker Frankenstein's together old film reels

Kyle Whitehead created a haunting short to be featured in the Arts Common Broadcast Lab

A still of Memrana Mortis, which is a triple-exposed result of years old, damaged film reels.

Courtesy Kyle Whitehead

A still of Memrana Mortis, which is a triple-exposed result of years old, damaged film reels.

Kyle Whitehead is bringing life to dead film.

His short Membrana Mortis, shot on traditional Super 8 film, is one of three selected for the latest Broadcast Lab monitors throughout Arts Commons, and will be playing from Dec. 1 to Feb. 23.

It’s sort of like a found footage film, except all the footage is stuff the Whitehead recorded years ago. Much of the footage was used in other live art projects, where it was played on repeat. As a result, the physical film wasn’t exactly in great shape.

“I ended up with all this material that damaged or totally destroyed,” he explained. “They were just wrecked from being projected continuously on loops. They would have damaged sprockets, burnt out frames, missing sections or there were so many splices in the film they wouldn’t physically go through a projector any more.”

So like Dr. Frankenstein cobbling together the pieces of his monster, Whitehead got to work. He actually took the old, distressed film and re-photographed it, then hand processed the new copies.

After they were developed, he chemically or physically manipulated the film in different ways. In total, he did this with all his film three times.

Then, he triple exposed all three layers into one brand new, radical looking film. The end result was 23 metres of sort of randomly slice, eerie-looking images.

Originally, Membrana Mortis was made for the Independent Filmmakers Cooperative of Ottawa to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Super 8 format. It also won Best of Alberta at the $100 Film Festival in Calgary. The Broadcast Lab opens the film up to a wider audience.

The other two films are Omin.Pip by Emmanuel Ho, which is an exploration of visual music to a track by local musician Valiska, and BUILT by Maziar Ghadero, which is a collection of filmic impression throughout the United Arab Emirates, examining the magnitude and cost of building a mega-city.

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