January 10, 2016

Dive into the History of Bolex with Feature Doc 'Last Employee'

While many filmmakers today are trying to get the 'film look', and the Digital Bolex is drawing raves with its footage, filmmaker Alexander Fevre turns his 16mm camera on the original in this teaser for his new doc, Bolex: The Last Employee.

Generations of filmmakers, from David Lynch to Spike Lee, all began their careers with the Bolex, which was for many years the go-to camera for film schools. While it's difficult to shoot sync sound on a Bolex, due to the noise, they are marvels of Swiss engineering, and are still being produced. Referred to by some enthusiasts as the Go Pro of its day, the Bolex H16 is a cult item, avidly collected, and still used by many filmmakers, who prize them for their craftsmanship and individuality.

Rolex Factory No Film School 16mm

As Favre's video shows, the Bolex factory is and was a place where supreme attention to craftsmanship made each camera a marvel of intricate, clockwork precision. As they are famously light and easy to maneuver, many directors have used them on feature films, including Stanley Kubrick, who favored the cameras for handheld work.

Filmed in 2011 with two Bolex H16 cameras (in Super 16), and using audio recorded with a Nagra, Favre's doc is in the process of completion and should be a real treat. For now, enjoy the teaser and explore the world of the tiny camera with the big name.      

Your Comment

11 Comments

Except for some home movies and his daughter filming BTS of The Shinning and Full Metal Jacket, Kubrick never used 16mm in any of his films.

January 10, 2016 at 5:46PM

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Mooey
271

Yup, this is correct. Thanks for spotting that. My head, it hangs in shame. Good call. Appreciate it!

January 10, 2016 at 6:49PM

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Justin Morrow
Writer
Writer/Director

Yeah, Kubrick used his Arriflex 2C for all his MOS handheld stuff. Same camera for decades, if I'm not mistaken.

March 9, 2016 at 12:56PM, Edited March 9, 12:56PM

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Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
2298

Didn't Kubrick shoot his short film "Day of the Fight" with handheld
B & H Eyemo camera ? But , yeah, never seen any photos or read any accounts of Kubrick using a Bolex.

January 4, 2019 at 12:49PM

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David Nethery
animator
8

Great little documentary...even better if you speak French!
Used to use the little beast back in the late sixties teaching sixth graders the basics of filmmaking.
Fond memories of shooting color reversal ...way back when.

January 11, 2016 at 12:48PM, Edited January 11, 12:48PM

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Lee Albright
Owner-Albright Films
208

The Bolex is a fantastic camera, I shot some of my student films on it 10-ish years ago - and yes - the sound of the motor did ruin a fair amount of dialogue.

As an aside - the film grain in the video above looks pretty bad. I wonder if the newer H.265 codec will better preserve details like grain?

January 11, 2016 at 3:43PM

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Ty
Cinematographer, Editor, Director
542

Looks like it has been shot on digital ... grain looks fake.

January 11, 2016 at 4:15PM

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I made a little short with this in school. The noise of the camera was an issue, that's why the prof ordered us not to record any audio/dialogue. It was my first time using film, so I wasn't going to waste it shooting a tree or my cat. I just made sure the noise from the camera was consistent throughout the film. You can still hear it but it barely distracts you.

January 12, 2016 at 12:51PM

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I only wish there were English subtitles!

January 13, 2016 at 8:40AM

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Sannah Parker
Producer/Editor
270

Of course. And it clearly says (English subtitles) in the title. -_-

January 13, 2016 at 10:52AM, Edited January 13, 11:04AM

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Sannah Parker
Producer/Editor
270

Now all USPS employees can make use of Liteblue portal to get all the benefits. Login to it from https://liteblueloginhelp.com/

March 11, 2019 at 12:32PM

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