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Low Budget Legends

13Bit Interview With Manny Kirchheimer Part 8


We recently had the good fortune to visit with Manny Kirchheimer, filmmaking legend as well as low budget legend.

Manny is best known for his groundbreaking work in “Stations of the Elevated,” as well as “We Were So Beloved.”

Legendary editor, director, teacher and mentor to many filmmakers, Manny was gracious to recently talk to us about filmmaking, life and, of course, the philosophy of low-budget filmmaking. We at 13BIT are not afraid to say that we love Manny for his philosophy and his artistic integrity.

Enjoy!

13BIT:

Who’s that? (POINTS TO PRINT)

MANNY K:

That’s Max Frisch. I just —

13BIT:

Max Frisch.

MANNY K:

–bought that yesterday, but I’m going to get rid of it. Max Frisch, a Swiss writer, novelist and playwright. But, it’s by Otto Dix — it’s by the great Otto Dix. It was thrown in. I bought a lot of four, for other reasons. And, all right, this is almost done. And it was thrown in, but I’m going to see if I can unload it. Here, this is what I really wanted to buy. This one, Tocaro — this is from 1854, and the Feininger, beautiful.

13BIT:

This is phenomenal.

MANNY K:

Yes.

13BIT:

What fine lines.

MANNY K:

Yeah. Cliché-Verre, there. A very, very rarely used technique where they put — this is 1854, and it’s something like dust on a photo emulsion.

13BIT:

Wow.

MANNY K:

And then you draw on the dust, and then you expose. I guess you do it in the dark room with a red light or —

13BIT:

That’s cool, right, right.

MANNY K:

–something, and then you develop it. That is the dust, the fine lines, you know, is where the light can then hit right. So then you expose it. Then you develop it, and then you make this from the negative, or something like that.

13BIT:

I love printmaking techniques.

MANNY K:

Yeah.

13BIT:

Yeah, it’s like chemical, physical. And people sat around coming up with these things.

MANNY K:

I know. Well, sat around — I think it took hundreds of years, you know.

MANNY K:

We are back, oh, yes. (FROM THE SPINNING BEACHBALL ON THE COMPUTER) Okay, here we go. So, this is — the idea is, this guy is — this is the last thing he does before printing. This is the etcher.

13BIT:

Oh, dropped frame.

MANNY K:

Happens all the time.

MANNY K:

(DESCRIBING SCENE) So, that was at the end of the war. That was a sort of Christmas end-of-war celebration. That is what I’m doing.

13BIT:

No, I mean, I love this stuff. And it’s an interesting —

MANNY K:

That’s that picture you saw there, right. The one he’s printing.

13BIT:

You know, one thing that you seem to be fine with in Final Cut, but we’ve been using this little program that costs — I think we paid $19 and called Photo to Movie, in terms of pan, it’s great. It’s like panning and zooming.

MANNY K:

Okay, I’ll write that down. I tell you, I need something. Yeah, the problem with this — well, there are two problems. One is that when you have crude pixels like on this screen, then when it moves vertically you see the ripple, right?

13BIT:

Flicker filter sometimes helps.

MANNY K:

Huh?

13BIT:

Flicker filter sometimes helps.

MANNY K:

Yeah, it doesn’t help enough. It doesn’t help me enough. And the other thing is that I can’t get an absolute smooth start and end. You know, I can get closer with the smooth and stuff.

13BIT:

Photo To Movie actually lets you ease in and ease out, which is —

MANNY K:

Better than motion? I mean, you know there’s motion over here, right? This one.

13BIT:

You know, we know what we need to know, and beyond that, we don’t know. So, you show us. We’d be happy to show it to you, though, if you ever want.

MANNY K:

You know, if you go — all right, here, right, motion. Okay, so you go on this thing, you see, and you can go, just to give you an example.

13BIT:

Yeah, I know, you can key frame it.

MANNY K:

Go like that, and it says “smooth,” right?

13BIT:

Right.

MANNY K:

So, I do that but it’s not — I’m used to — I have — I just packed away again today because of the painters, a 1928 legion tripod, which is a gyroscopic head. The fucking thing weighs more than an Arriflex case, honest — just the head, right. And that’s when I do my stuff and when I shoot film. So before, at the very beginning when you asked, “have you given up on film,” well I’m told that the reason for the ripple effect is that thin lines like my etching lines are crossing pixel lines.

13BIT:

How interesting.

MANNY K:

And that the best cure of all is if you shoot it on film, because then it won’t be doing that. So when I have a fine cut, when I know this is it for now, when I know that, I’m going to — all the stuff with movement I’m going to re-shoot on a film and put in here, yeah. The way I shoot on film is I use a zoom lens with a close-up attachment and a motor — zoom motor with a rheostat, all right.

13BIT:

Not an algorithm.

MANNY K:

Yeah, and that’s, you know, that’s really beautiful. And I like it better than an animation camera.

13BIT:

Well, we’d be happy to show you Photo to Movie. You probably wouldn’t do nearly as well as filmmaking.

MANNY K:

But, this was pretty good.

13BIT:

That was great!

MANNY K:

I mean, the movements in this, I mean.

13BIT:

I liked the cuts, you know, where you go from a close-up of one face to another and then you reveal the whole picture.

13BIT:

I’ll shut this down. I think we’re good, right?

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