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Carol Shenk – The Magic Sword

Carol Shenk, ca. 1980, Super 8, color, silent with new score by Liz Meredith and Timothy Wisniewski
Location: San Diego County, California
Shown at Home Movie Day Seattle

Film scan by Movette Film Transfer
Film courtesy of Carol Shenk
Copyright Carol Shenk

Thanks to: Carol Shenk, Hannah Palin, Philip Borgnes

About the Film

I made this film in a summer school animation class when I was about 10 (that would be around 1980). I remember feeling slightly embarassed that my partner and I had chosen a fairy tale theme for our project, feeling like I was too old for princesses and knights and dragons. But I remember having a lot of fun making the fire and it makes me laugh now to see all the other attempts at details like the horse getting bigger as it gallops down the hill and rearing up with fishing line. It was great fun showing this at Home Movie Day at Northwest Film Forum in 2013, especially that the children in the audience kept asking to see it replayed backwards!
– Carol Shenk

About the Music

In keeping with the inspired youthful DIY aesthetic of the film, its fantasy/renaissance theme, and the era of its creation (the era of our early childhood, the 1980s) we decided to record the score using instrumentation evocative of low bit fantasy video games (Casio keyboard, drum machine, electrified violin) onto an old four track cassette recorder—an homage to the analog consumer media of the 1980s.  A spring drum over a microphone with copious amounts of reverb provided the fake dragon fire/thunder sounds.  The jumpy continuity of the film led us naturally to a collage-based approach to the composition—visible splices marking clear breaks between “reality” (stationary establishing scenes) and “fantasy” (stop motion animated sequences) provided an ideal visual turnabout, allowing us to jump comfortably between composed themes and more frenetic improvised cues in such a short score.

– Liz Meredith and Timothy Wisniewski