Film buff snaps up global awards

University of Southern Queensland lecturer and filmmaker Dr Daryl Sparkes has won global awards for an ‘experiment’ he created with a camera from the classical era of Hollywood.

Eager to experience what Hollywood legends like Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino went through, Dr Sparkes bought a 100-year-old hand-cranked Cine-Kodak Model A 16mm movie camera at an auction house in New York last year.

The Springfield-based lecturer and film buff then used it to create a 10-minute experimental film called The Troxler Effect, which has since earned multiple international accolades and been screened at film festivals worldwide.

“Millions of films have been made on 16mm film and still are,” Dr Sparkes said.

“Famous filmmakers of the past, like Jean-Luc Godard, and modern filmmakers like Wes Anderson all used 16mm to create some of the greatest movies known. Natalie Portman’s Black Swan, Cate Blanchett’s Carol and Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom were all made on 16mm.”

The film celebrates two major milestones – the first computer created by Charles Babbage in 1823 and the first 16mm film camera invented by the Kodak company in 1923, which ushered in a new era of filmmaking.
In making the film, Dr Sparkes used the same techniques of filmmaking used a century ago, including hand-drawn titles and credits.

He even created the music on a 1920s Wurlitzer cinema organ – the same one that used to be in the Regent Cinema in Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall but is now stored in the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art.

Dr Sparkes filmed the final scene on a smartphone and used AI technology on a computer to distort the faces of the actors.

“I wanted there to be a link between the first computer in 1823, the invention of 16mm film in 1923 and the advent of artificial intelligence in 2023; the 200 years in technological evolution all coming together this year,” he said.

The film took six months to make and features Dr Sparkes’ wife, Deborah Marshall, as the lead actress.

It has so far achieved 30 international awards and accolades, including being selected at the British International Film Festival, the Wales International Film Festival, the Buenos Aires International and the 35th Girona Film Festival in Spain and claiming Best Experimental Film at the Los Angeles Cinematography Awards and Best Director at the Stockholm Short Film Festival.

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