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JUN
8
4 YEARS

Guillermo del Toro's Super 8 Memories

The "Hellboy" and "Pan's Labyrinth" director tells The Hollywood Reporter he was 8 years old when he first borrowed his father's Super 8 camera.

Guillermo del Toro
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

With Super 8 opening this Friday, Heat Vision is taken back to the golden time when we were making movies with a Super 8 camera, running around the woods with friends after raiding our parents' basements for whatever props we can find. (That, by the way, was as recently as three years ago. Thanks Mrs. Zubrycki!)

Heat Vision isn't the only one with Super 8 memories to share: we'll be posting interviews from three cool filmmakers about their own early days making movies using the camera. And, what we found are some undiscovered childhood gems.

First up is Guillermo del Toro, the man behind Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth, recalling his first youthful cinematic efforts with the film format:

“I was 8 years old. My dad had a small, very compact camera that ran at 24fps only. No stop motion or high speed. Very simple. I borrowed it from him—without him knowing, of course.

To this day, I have never been as thrilled as the day the reel came back from Kodak. In those days, you took the Super 8 reel to the pharmacist and they sent it to be developed and it came back 2 or 3 weeks later. When I saw those images up on our projection screen I flipped. It is still the greatest thrill I ever felt in dailies.

I shot some action figures splattering on the pavement, falling from great heights. Two years later, when I had my Planet of the Apes figures, I did a super-production with big fight scenes and some explosions. Like any Super 8 filmmaker, you used what you had available.

I got the best of my Super 8 cameras—the Canon 1014XL—and did stop motion, high speed slo-mo, dissolves in camera, fades to black, etc. The camera was gorgeous and perfect. I bought a second one, which I still own. This camera started the revival of stop motion in my hometown—one that would eventually lead to generations of animators working in Guadalajara today. I taught cinema and animation classes at my high school and out of those many animators emerged. We collaborated on stop motion and clay animated shorts that were eventually stolen by an unscrupulous university student who presented them as his own thesis and—amazingly—graduated with that!

I still have a few of my films and even the ones I liked are proven to be crap. Some images are included in the Lionsgate release of Cronos. I don't show them to anyone, God forbid!”