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Fund This Film: ‘Beyond the Bolex’ Looks At the Past and Future of Your First Movie Camera

By  · Published on March 23rd, 2013

Do you know who Jacques Bolsey was? Also known as Jacques Bogopolsky, he was the inventor of the Bolex movie camera, the name of which is derived from his own. If you’d like to know more, especially given that his Wikipedia page is really bare, there’s a documentary in the works about him and his importance to cinema history, as well as how he’s now influencing a new product called the Digital Bolex. And if you really, really want to see it, you can help it reach its budget goal of $35,000.

The funny thing is, this doc, titled Beyond the Bolex, is seeking crowdfunding through Kickstarter to tell the story of something that was itself a huge Kickstarter success (the Digital Bolex, not the original, obviously). That’s half of the focus, while the other half looks back on Bolsey’s version, a camera that anyone who isn’t a film school reject will certainly recognize as the first they ever shot film on (it was mine!). It’s also a camera used at one time by Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Terry Gilliam, Quentin Tarantino, Peter Jackson, David Lynch and Darren Aronofsky, all or any of whom are being sought for an interview in this documentary.

Beyond the Bolex, which has already begun shooting, is directed by Alyssa Bolsey, who just so happens to be the inventor’s great-granddaughter. So, it follows a tradition of documentaries made about famous parents and ancestors – see Tell Them Who You Are, My Architect, Bright Leaves and Ethel, for examples. Fortunately, it’s got the appeal of being about cinema, because movie fans love documentaries about the movies. Even if the younger Bolsey succeeds in only getting one or two big names to appear in this, it could be sold as something along the lines of Side by Side or These Amazing Shadows. One of the film’s producers is Caryn Capotosto, who worked on this year’s Sundance hit Twenty Feet from Stardom.

The perks are the usual, copy of the film through to executive producer credit, but in between are some special items for the history buff or collector, such as an invitation to view Jacques Bolsey’s private archives. You can already learn a lot and see a lot of vintage goodies on the film’s Kickstarter page and official website. At the latter there is also a call for people to submit footage shot on a Bolex, especially anything historical like documentation of major events and wars. The aim is to really get into full production in early summer and be finished with the feature by year’s end.

Watch the campaign video below to see if you’re interested in helping the film out:

Do you want to see this film? Enough to help fund it?

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.