'Super 8' Series: Shane Black's Memories

The "Lethal Weapon" writer and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" director recalls to The Hollywood Reporter his first experiences using the “hand-crank” Super 8 camera.
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Shane Black

With Super 8 opening today, 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, forcing Craig Scallen, the Ukrainian kid who loved Doctor Who too much, to do a death scene involving an outhouse. (Sorry about that, pal.)

Heat Vision isn't the only one with Super 8 memories to share: this is the second of three installments where cool filmmakers talk about their own early days making movies using the camera. Guillermo del Toro and Zack Snyder already talked of their teenage recollections using the film format.

Now we've got Shane Black, the Lethal Weapon writer who also wrote and directed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, reminiscing about the thrill of the wait for the film to get developed ...

"I came across my first Super 8 camera that was buried in back of my Dad's closet. It was a hand-crank number, and you had to load it by feel in a dark room.

I'd like to say the possibilities were endless, but after a few minutes of artistic soul-searching, we'd invariably return to the dog-as-superhero motif. The baby-powder-in-the-toy-gun-barrel trick worked swell visually, although why bad guys would physically shake their guns, as though the bullet were trapped and needed help, was hard to explain.

The true joy, of course, was involving parents. Habitually glum Dad (people told him he had a cop's face) soared to new heights of mugging. I was the Six Million Dollar Man, and he was never so busy he couldn't stop and fight using pool sweepers.

The footage -- sadly, more exciting than the actual show -- was to prepare me for my 10-minute anthill opus. Basically, I was bad.

Where is the film now? Who knows -- the land, or possibly the ocean. The biggest clue that something lay down that path for me was that, at a time when developing took a week, not a second ... waiting on those dailies was excruciating.

And, looking back, if I were smart, I'd have involved the neighborhood girls, rather than a dubious collection of stray animals. Then again, would the girls have worn the cape? Likely not."

'Super 8' Series: Guillermo del Toro's Memories
'Super 8' Series: Zack Snyder's Memories