A few months ago, I was looking for a book on the lonely bookshelves in our living room when I stumbled upon a box I had not seen in 48 years. Could it be? Opening the box, there rested an eight-inch reel of Super-8 film, the long-lost, original and only copy of Love in the Park. A flood of warm memories and emotions washed over me. This was a movie, the final project we made for a film course in my senior year at the University of Rochester.
In 1972, you did not make movies digitally or on video. You shot them in 8mm or 16mm or the latest format, Super 8. There were no VHS or DVD movies to buy or rent, but you could buy full-length films on Super 8 from the Blackhawk paper catalog. Being a lifelong movie fan, I did just that. I still have my Super 8 projector and movie collection that include Charlie Chaplin shorts, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, and the full-length original Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Sr. (Still great–if you haven’t seen it, click here). They were all silent films and my wife, Amy, and I would throw parties for friends, playing the old movies accompanied by music from my vinyl collection. For Halloween parties, we showed Phantom accompanied by dulsid and spooky organ music.
Making the Movie
Love in the Park was my joyous attempt to honor those old treasures and create a modern-day silent short. We shot the film on a deep winter’s day in Genesee Park and surrounding environs. This was much more than a home movie. We recruited actors, including Amy, and shot hours of film. I was particularly proud of the tracking shot we filmed of the characters running, my camera-in-hand hanging out the passenger side window of my GTO while my co-producer, Steve Meyrich, drove.
After the film shoot was complete, it took several days for me to make cuts and edit the movie down to eight minutes. For those edits, I hand-spliced the film and used tape to hold the pieces together. After opening the lost box this summer and realizing what I’d found, my second thought was, is it still watchable? Yet, I was too afraid to run it through my old projector, fearing the tape holding the film together would be too brittle and break.
So began my search for a company that would convert my half-century-old film to digital while handling it with kid gloves. I finally found a well-reviewed company, Legacybox in Tennessee, and shipped the reel off, fingers-crossed that they could save it. Two months later it was done.
A Love Story
Love in the Park is naturally a love story, boy-meets-girl. They fall in love, break up, and reconcile in the end. You’ve seen it a million times. The difference in our story is that the lovers’ emotions, passion, impatience, anger, and excitement are mimicked expressively by a pair of Shadows. Maybe it’s because my new wife (still happily married 48 years later) played the female lead, or that my friends so enthusiastically volunteered to play a part, or that it captures a young, beautiful creative time in our lives. Maybe it’s the sweet-sour experience of first-loves. Take your pick.
Albeit the film faded a bit and was darker than I remembered and the original music was gone, but it was still an untold thrill to see that movie again. Over the years I lost touch with those players, but I did track down my co-director, Steve Meyrich, and one of the Shadows, Jon Gottlieb. For them, like me, it was a gift of an unexpected, yet joyful blast from the past.
I’m not sure what anyone today would think of our amateur effort on that arcane medium, but have a look and let me know what you think. I’ve added music and uploaded the 8-minute movie to Youtube here. Maybe it resonates and will bring back some memories for you too.
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