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Victoria Video Club

Victoria Amateur Movie Club survives despite video

The Victoria Star: March 27, 1991

By KEN FARIS
Special to The Star
The overwhelming popularity of video technology has driven some amateur movie clubs to extinction, but 50 years after it was formed the Victoria Amateur Movie Club still enjoys a healthy membership.
   So says three of its members—club president Margaret Chamberlain, film custodian Len Thomas, and secretary Morris Aldersmith.
   Thomas, who has been a member since 1951 and is the longest active member of the group, said there are about 35 members in the club now, and although membership has been as high as 65 the club has managed to average 30 to 40 members during the years since its start in 1941.
   "We're doing fairly well right now, considering," said club president Chamberlain. "About 90 per cent of our members are senior citizens and we'd like more younger members, but none of the younger ones seem to want to stay."
   Aldersmith said he thinks this is because the younger generation doesn't seem as interesting in joining leisure clubs as they did when he was young.
   "In those days people seemed to be more creative and got involved in groups," he said. "They were less interested in their privacy than people are today."
   "Another reason movie clubs in North America have been going the way of Super 8 is that video technology has all but obliterated the use of film by amateurs.
   Aldersmith said the biggest change brought on by the video wave is the ease and affordability of the new technology. Comparing the price of film alone, Aldersmith said it costs around $30 for three minutes worth of Super 8 sound film, $60 to $70 for three minutes of 16 millimetre film, yet you can buy a two hour video cassette for around $5.
   Not only that, he said, but it has become more and more difficulty to find labs that develop movie film, whereas video can be shown instantly using a playback machine and television — and then re-recorded if desired.
   Aldersmith said that while movie cameras are "dirt cheap" now because of the popularity of video, a video buff can get started with a camera for under $1,000, although he said a good package, including camera, tape editor, playback unit and colour monitor, can run upwards of $5,000.
   The Victoria Amateur Movie Club has resigned itself to the video revolution, and club competitions include categories for video as well as movie productions.

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   "We basically want to help people shoot better home movies, whether it's on film or video," said Chamberlain. "Our club also encourages its members to show their work more often."
   Aldersmith said because video tape is so cheap, people will often go overboard and film hours of something that would be more interesting if it were edited into a short piece.
   He said he knows of one person who took a cruise though the Panama Canal and literally did not shut the video camera off the whole time.
   "What we try to help people do is shoot short, interesting films and never show too much at one time," said Aldersmith. "We help them set up properly, edit out the bad stuff, and add commentary and background sound fairly cheaply."
   Chamberlain added that many people who have video cameras will film a family event or a trip, look at it once or twice when they get home, and then the tapes sit on the shelf collecting dust.
   "We try to get across the idea that if people edit their work down, they might be encouraged to bring their movies out to show their friends more often without boring them or scaring them away," she said.
   Memberhsip in the club offers clinics, competitions, newsletters, meeting and group productions. New members are expected to provide their own equipment.
   "It's a good way to find out if you want to buy a video or movie camera," said Chamberlain. "You can rent equipment and try it out before spending a lot of money."
   The club meets on the last Tuesday of each month beginning at 8 p.m. in the First United Church Hall on Balmoral Road.