15. April 2015 · Comments Off on Five Questions With Lost Dominion’s Paul Gordon · Categories: Feature Films, Five Questions with..., Ottawa · Tags: , , , , , ,
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Paul Gordon

Photo of Paul Gordon by Dale Gervis

Skip Tracer is a film with a great mix of hard boiled noir, dunked with social commentary, mixed with a tax shelter vibe”, Paul Gordon, Lost Dominion Screenings Collective Programmer tells Ottawa Indie Fest when we recently caught up with him.

Set on the mean streets of Vancouver in the late 1970s, Skip Tracer is a free-wheeling private detective story with the twist that the detective is a loan agency‚Äôs debt collector hunting down ‚Äėskips‚Äô who have stopped repaying their loans.

Prior to the film’s screening at the ByTowne Cinema on April 21st, Paul tells us what he personally likes about the film and about the newly minted digital version of the film.

Why did you decide to screen Skip Tracer as part of Lost Dominion’s on-going series of film screenings?

Skip Tracer is a¬†personal favorite that we discovered¬†back around 2006 from the great website www.canuxploitation.com (Your Complete Guide to Canadian B-Film). In 2010, we played a 16mm print of the film during our first Canadian Cult Revue season at the Mayfair Theatre. Back then we were doing double bills and the film played after John Paizs’s Crime Wave. Five years later we figured it was time to bring it back.

What is the significance of this film and why should people see this film?

Well it was shot in Vancouver in a time when not a lot of features let alone Canadian features were being produced and shot there. Vancouver in the 70’s was nothing like it is today. This was also director’s Zale Dalen’s first feature. The film is a great mix of hard boiled noir, dunked with social commentary, mixed with a tax shelter vibe.

Skip Tracer

Productions stills from “Skip Tracer”

What was involved in obtaining a new 4K digital transfer of the film?

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) luckily has a 35mm preservation master print of the film in their vaults at the Gatineau Preservation Centre. The film was actually shot on 16mm but 35mm blowups were created for festival runs and distribution. 4K was not really our call. LAC will scan 16mm at 2K and 35mm at 4K for preservation purposes. So when we asked for a exhibition copy they did the scan at 4K.

LAC has a top of the line film scanner that can scan 35mm film at 4K at 15 frames per second and 2K at real time. The scanner also has a sound head that can record the optical soundtrack creating a 24 bit broadcast Wav file.¬†Not a lot of “Restoration” was really needed for this release as the original print was in very good condition and had not faded. Now of course, it would have been great to have go from the original camera neg “OCN” or a Interneg or Interpos but unfortunately all we had was a single 35mm release print.

More could have been done to restore and fix some minor issues with the print and most likely LAC will do them in the future. Examples being removing some neg dust, some heavy grain, the film was shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm¬†so the 16mm film grain¬†structure is heavy at times.¬†Also there are printed in projection cues. One interesting fact is the 35mm print is hard matted to the aspect ratio of 1.85 so either the filmmaker shot it Super 16 or the film was intentionally cropped to the 35mm “Flat” 1.85 standard.

Why is Skip Tracer and other similar Canadian films under appreciated even though they may initially do quite well when first released?

Distribution has always been a issue for independent Canadian films. They may do well in festivals but getting a decent run in a theatre chain is rare. Nowadays there are lots more options, Video On Demand, Netflix, Blu-ray re-releases etc… – in 1977 you had cinemas, and television (before cable TV was even the norm).
This is there anything else that you would like to add about the film, its digital transfer or the screening on April 21st?

Just that the film is worth checking out, its a lost gem that needs that needs to be seen. Hopefully one day it can get released on DVD, Blu-ray or Video On Demand. Also this will probably be the first time since its original release that the film will be shown in shown in its intended aspect ratio on a large screen. All other public screenings have been on faded 16mm prints or old standard definition video transfers.

The Lost Dominion Screening Collective presents Skip Tracer at the ByTowne Cinema on April 21st at 9:15pm. Based on a new 4K scan of an archival print, this will be the best projection of the film since its 1977 debut, and Ottawa audiences will get to see it first.

To learn more about the Lost Dominion Screening Collective and its future screenings and events check out their website.

And check out the two part interview with “Skip Tracer” director Zale R. Dalen in the “Five Questions With” section of our website.

Part 1 Interview and Part 2 Interview

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