Wednesday, August 03, 2005

My father was a movie addict.

For as long as I can remember, on Friday a precious parcel would arrive from Johannesburg by train: the film of the week. He converted an entire suite in our house into a little movie room, complete with tip-up chairs he bought from a demolition sale, and a projection booth with two 16 mm projectors.

Friends and family used to gather at our home to watch the film of the week, and nothing was censored. I saw Psycho when I was five, and didn't take a shower until I was fully grown, as a result. Horror movies were a favourite of his, but not mine, and I learned to walk out as soon as the eerie music started, or the shadows began to lengthen, or the kids knelt by the bed praying 'Now I lay me down to sleep...'

When television first came to South Africa in 1975, my dad used to tape the test pattern. We had a smart Philips video recorder, a standard now long forgotten and gone.

But one thing my dad never had was a videocam, which is a pity. Because he also loved making movies. We helped. We dressed up in swimsuits with towels caped around our shoulders, swooping onto roofs and rescuing drowning babies - SuperJan and SuperRen were the result of my dad's forays into special effects. We used to compose titles for his productions using letters and backing boards akin to fuzzy felt, but made of shiny plastic stuff.

When he died, before the videocam was really around I think, his collection of 8mm tapes came to me. I stuck them in a cupboard, not really knowing what to do with them. Until we moved to England. Then I left them with Paul's sister and asked her to get them transferred onto CD, a more manageable medium.

When I finally got the CDs, a good while later, maybe a year, I bought some video editing software. Oh what fun that was! Going through all this ancient footage, extracting existing movies and making some new ones. I can't remember what got in the way, but the videos and video software were left languishing for a long while.

With my recent hard drive crash, I had to reinstall all my programs, and I found the video editing software again. And once again I began going through the footage. Some I had saved to backup, but not all. I cut a movie using all the bits of us as children and made a music video. I've recut the footage of my youngest sister's 18th birthday and added music.

I think the bug has bitten.

And today, I'm getting a videocam.