Coming off an impressive showing at the 2021 World of Echo Film Festival with a 2nd place finish, AB kept the gears turning and lined up a sequel worthy of note: a feature length video shot completely on 16mm film. Producing an independent film is no small feat, and to do it all on Kodak stock is an entirely different beast altogether! The kid pulled it off though, with help from some familiar faces we’ve come to know over the years on WoE.
While we got plenty of time in the film with our guys Josh Prior, Jack Zarse, and Gabe Gutierres, Andrew tapped some fresh talent in the form of Bubz Tasha, Simon Johnson, and a humble kid by the name of Grant LaFrance, amongst others in the near 40-minute showcase.
After a successful showing at Greenwood Features in Bethel, Connecticut, Andrew joined me on the phone to gab about his latest piece. Take a dive below.
World of Echo: [Watching a video of Andrew’s RM125] Ay, spinning bumblebee laps today!
Andrew Boccarossa: Yeah man! I’ve been wanting to reverse the loop behind my house for a few years now, so I took the 125 out and worked in a little section. That thing is too fun to ride. I planned to sell it after JDAY earlier in 2022, but I decided I want to get a couple rides on it first before I think about that.
Is it cold out in Indiana?
It’s rideable, but it’s been too wet as of late to really do anything. I’ve got some bike work I’ve been neglecting as well.
Get on it, J!
I will, I will. What I’ve been wanting to ask you though is… what brought you back for the sequel to 203.1?
Honestly, I just wanted to see if I could top myself from the first one. After getting 2nd in the 2021 Film Festival, I really studied the notes I was given from the judges and took those criticisms with me. And I was happy to receive the criticism, really, because that motivated me to load up and give it another go. It gave me a direction and a goal to work towards. I didn’t make it on time for the festival this year, but I believe I was able to improve this time around.
“203.1,” released in 2021.
You were wide open on the Arriflex for this video, but I want to get into the GSAP cam first. Give us the rundown on this crazy camera.
The GSAP camera [Gun, Sight, Aim, Point] is an old, old piece of equipment that originated out of WWII in an effort to collect combat data from fighter pilots to better prepare our military. The camera mounted to the wing and were operated by the pilots themselves, triggered by a button in the cockpit before they would engage their target.
Somehow, these cameras wound up in the hands of motocross filmmakers, and this mounted footage can be found in videos like No Fear: Chapter 1, Stone Spray Sandwich, Throttle, and of course, Terrafirma 7. Before I was ever interested in cameras or shooting my own films, I always wondered how they got those shots, so as I became more invested in video I began to search for one.
I was down at Du-All in New Jersey one day, my favorite camera shop, and as I was chatting with the guys behind the counter I made mention of the GSAP, and they got me in contact with a guy by the name of Jeff Sutch. Jeff is an OG who was involved in the launch of MTV Sports, as well as a camera operator for numerous X Games events, and he happened to hold onto most of his equipment from back in the day… including his very own GSAP camera.
The camera takes 50 foot magazines in black-and-white or color, and once that thing is rolling you can only cross your fingers and hope you have everything set up right for your shot! It was very nerve-racking experience every time I shot with it, but the results speak for themselves.
This is your first full-length project shot exclusively on film. How was that experience and what did you take away from it?
I learned a lot about exposure this year, I’d say that was my biggest improvement from 203.1. There’s a lot of footage in the first film that is over-exposed, because I didn’t fully understand the concept of aperture being dependent on shutter speed. Opening the aperture when you’re shooting at a high frame rate, closing it when you’re shooting at a low frame rate. Those changes are easy to spot on a digital setup with an electronic viewfinder, but when shooting on film you have to internalize those changes. My levels were much more consistent this go around. To film veterans it’s a simple mistake, but it took me many months to get that internalized.
I also learned how to relay sound over a variable speed motor, which I did for the interview with Simon Johnson in the film. While the Bolex can be fixed to one speed, the Arri can fluctuate anywhere from 22 to 28 frames per second, depending on how you’re shooting. That was difficult for me to accomplish, but I was excited to get it lined up and in the film. I love a challenge!
You are very determined when you sink your teeth into a particular project.
I commit, man! But I’ve also learned to go with the flow when I have to. Sometimes things just don’t pan out exactly how you like, and you’ve got to work with that.
You’re in a league of your own on the film front in my eyes. Hyper-focused.
Thanks man, that means a lot!
Tell me about getting everyone out to Greenwood Features for the premiere! That’s the best part about making a film, having a night to celebrate it.
It went well. We had about 80 to 90 people out for the event, and that was something I had wanted to do again ever since I had my get-together for 203.1. Finding out about [Brandon] Hartranft’s injury while I was wrapping up this film just gave me extra incentive to put on an event and leverage that into some monetary support for him. Using the premiere as a hub, we were able to gather up some raffle prizes from friends and sold tickets at the door to kick Brandon some cash once the night was over.
On the technical side of things, I had some issues with the playback occasionally glitching during the premiere, but everyone seemed to enjoy the film regardless. I was a mess, though! Haha. I was glad that anyone even showed up.
What was your favorite part in the film?
I was particularly fond of Bubz [Tasha’s] part, just because that was the first time I got the GSAP camera to work, and the film I ran through that thing had to be over 15 years old by that point. It was a true hail mary sending that through the camera, but I’m glad I did because the footage turned out crazy. It was tinted purple and super grainy, which I was initially bummed on because 1: I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to bring the exposure back to a proper level and 2: the film was incredibly sped up. I had set the camera to 16 frames per second instead of 32. I slowed it down a bit in post and luckily it cleaned up great.
My favorite part would probably have to be Grant LaFrance’s though, set to “Never The Same” by Supreme Beings of Leisure. We had a great day shooting at Sandbox up in New Hampshire, prime fall afternoon with the leaves fully turned… and Grant is a total ripper so he made it easy for me. Every time I dragged his footage into the timeline I had to rewatch the entire part. I was just geeked the whole time. It doesn’t always work out that way, but when it does it feels great.
I hear you, man. Anyone you want to shout out while we’re at it?
I’d like to thank my girlfriend Alyssa Aveni, for having my back all the way. She also hopped on a camera for the first time and was way better at it than when I started! Cameron Plourde over at Enjoy Media for knocking out the title art on the film, as well as lending a hand to shoot some sequences. Luke Paltauf from Industrial Metal Works for building the GSAP mount, that was no small feat and he knocked it out of the park.
Cassie over at Another Year Collective for providing some inspirational tunes while I was working on this project.
Taylor Smith, Du-All Camera, Jake at Sandbox NH, and Jeff Sutch, for all of their help.
Finally, thanks to World of Echo for lending a hand on a few shoots along with hooking this interview up.
One last question before I let you go: could we end on the story of you flooding your garage?
I was trying to tidy up the shop while Mr. Echo was around for our limited shoot days, and when I jostled one of my bikes around it triggered a chain reaction that ended with a quad toppling onto our main water line. The break was swift and clean, sending a geyser through the ceiling and into our kitchen, which was being renovated at the time. It was a total mess. I ended up getting drenched trying to find a way to shut the water off, but in the end we stopped the leak and got a plumber out to amend the mishap. On the bright side, I got a shiny new garage floor out of it. [laughs] It was a nightmare at the time, but I can look back on it now and laugh.