Director stays away from digital for 'Burnt'

NEW YORK — Gotham’s burgeoning microbudget film community is going back to the future.

For “Burnt,” Raphael Nadjari’s follow-up to his Un Certain Regard Cannes selection “The Shade,” the French director has used a format that, while a mainstay at family reunions, has been obsolete in feature films since the mid-’60s: super-8 mm.

Warm feel of ‘Burnt’

Shunning the digital video trend that has come to dominate low-budget filmmaking in the last year, Nadjari opted for the warm, grainy homemovie feel of super-8. “Burnt” concerns three brothers whose fraternal link is challenged when one is mysteriously gunned down in front of their family-owned fabric store.

Pic, which stars Richard Edson, Jeff Ware and Andrew Barkus, wrapped a 15-day East Village shoot on Christmas Eve.

While producers Geoffroy Grison, Francesca Feder and Caroline Bonmarchand managed to keep the film within its $400,000 budget, the delicate and rarely used format presented its own set of obstacles, chief of which was finding enough stock to make the 90-plus minute feature.

With Kodak’s U.S.-based production of super-8 negative stock having slowed to a trickle in recent years, most of the stock used for “Burnt” was manufactured at Kodak’s European-based operations.

Fortunately, French Kodak was eager to lend technical assistance and donate stock to Nadjari in an effort to prove the professional viability of the all-but-forgotten format.

New viability?

While the producers don’t expect that the often problematic super-8 will give digital video a run for its money (the production broke three of the extremely fragile cameras over the 15-day shoot), they point out that the explosion of microbudget filmmaking has helped erase the stigma that the format once carried in the eyes of distributors.

“We have had no shortage of calls,” Bonmarchand said. “Distributors are not at all frightened with this idea. They understand that it is very much in the mood with what is going on in independent film. People are looking for something that is fresh, different, no matter what it may have cost to produce.”

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