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Shooting on a Bolex Camera

I recently did my first shoot on a 16 mm Bolex Camera. The requirements for the shoot were very stringent: I had to shoot an entire film within the duration of a single 100 ft roll of film – which is roughly 2 min 40 seconds long. I also could neither edit the film in post production, nor could I use any sounds.

So I decided to shoot a complete narrative story in 2 minutes 30 seconds, without sound or dialogue.

Some thoughts and tips on shooting with the Bolex:


  • Always plan the storyboard in detail, and time each shot so that you know how much film will be used
  • Rehearse every single shot with timings
  • Time religiously on the actual shoot day – I had someone time each shot, even counting up the seconds so that my actor could act at an appropriate pace to pace out the shot


  • Always ensure that your talent knows that you’re shooting on film, and that they get one shot to get it right
  • You may want to shoot complex scenes first on digital and play it back so that everyone knows whether the timing and details were right
  • Have someone else pull focus – generally on bigger film sets, there is a specific focus puller. It’s also recommended that you don’t try to shoot and pull focus at the same time as that may get confusing and lead to errors
  • Get into the habit of cranking AFTER every shot instead of before, so that when you start to shoot, your camera is always cranked up


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