When I first purchased a super 8mm camera I had little actual film making experience aside from the really bad short movies I made as a kid with my parents giant VCR Camcorder. I did, however, take a few years of photography in high school, and shot quite a bid of slide film.
My plan was to basically just shoot some film and try and learn along the way. My first idea was to do an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell Tale Heart. Originally the film was going to be silent and I thought the story was known well enough that I could pull it off as a silent film, plus I felt that the use of Black & White film would fit this story. The group of friends I assembled for this ended up talking me out of doing it. My friend Thomas argued something along the lines that I should try something that would be easier and to wait till I shot some film and gone through the whole process.
So, I watched a bunch of Charlie Chaplin films and we came up the idea of doing some slap sticky chase film thing. So I shot 4 carts of film and got a cheap film viewer / editor and some film splices and ended up with what I felt was a success. My only regret is that I shot it at 24 fps and wish I would have done it at 18 fps so that it would looks slightly speed up. After that I thought well that worked out fine, let's try something else. The next film I did I tried to do too many things at once. It's really difficult to hold a boom microphone, operate a sound recorder and a film camera all at the same time.
I then started and did not finish a few more projects. It was at this point that I decided I was going to give up this silly hobby. But, before that I figured I might as well try and shot the film I had originally set out to make.
I took the remaining film I had and with no real prior story boarding or any real prep work, other than asking Derek and his Dad to be in my movie and started filming. In fact Derek said to me while I was setting up the lights "Hey should have make up?" We called Jen house about fifteen minutes before starting to shot and asked her to come do make up. When she arrived I informed her that she was also going to be in the film.
A few weeks later when the film came back from the lab, I took my projector over to Derek's house to show him what we had and was pleasantly surprised with how certain things came out. It was at this point we got serious about the project, well I got serious Derek was pretty serious the whole time. I then turned my kitchen table into an "editing suite". I spent about a day watching the footage over and over and taking notes on how I was going to cut it. Seeing how it was shot on reversal film and I was physical cutting and taping together the original camera negative (I guess it should be original camera positive, seeing how I used reversal film). The actual process of editing actual film was probably the best part. There's just something about physically holding your movie in your hand as you're making it. Bits and pieces of film were scattered on my floor hanging from the wall draped over my shoulders.
Once I had a completed edit, I once again took the projector over to Derek's to view the film. We decided that it needed music or narration, it just did not seem right being completely silent. Also, I found that everyone I talked to had heard of The Tell Tale Heart, but were not familiar with it that well. Basically, I got the reaction "that is the story with the heart under the floor right, I never read it, but I saw the Simpsons episode." I showed what I had so far to Chris Farren and Sean Stevenson, they were enthusiastic about writing a score. After the score and dialogue was all recorder, I had the film telecined and combined everything together. We then had a screening at Derek's house, and when all was said & done I was pretty happy with the finished product.