So I wanted to make a World War II period piece for my 2nd 16mm film at UNCGreensboro. I may have watched one too many war films and I do believe my favorite back then was “Apocalypse Now,” so I was highly motivated to actually make one. I had a story, I had the equipment, I had the crew, I had the actors, and I had the locations.
The story writing process took only a few weeks and I compiled the ideas that me and the 2 lead actors had come up with.
“Der Wolf” is about a lone German sniper dying of TB while he waits for enemy soldiers to wander in his secter. It is basically a poetic piece, as the main viewpoint we hear is from the sniper in the form of narrated journal entries.
For this film I graduated to the CP-16 synch sound 16mm film camera and I got to use 400′ reels (about 10 minutes of 24fps film time) for the first time.
Sound was captured on Quarter inch magnetic tape on a device called a Nagra. We used a shotgun boom to mic our sound.
The crew was made up of my fellow film school compatriots whom I had developed good working relationships with up to that point. Production went wonderfully fast, even though we were a day behind schedule just looking for appropriate rifles from the WWII era. We found them and were on our way. Everything went great until I got the footage back. Wonderful blue scratches were present on a few of the shots from a few different scenes. Looking back on it, it really wasn’t a bad thing and I wished I had actually used the crazy scratched up footage now, but back then I wanted to avoid mistakes like that since I had first experienced these sorts of problems on “Static.” Needless to say I scheduled a re-shoot and had the entire thing in the can.
Final Cut Pro had just dropped and we got a few new mac G4’s with the software at school. None of the professors knew how to use it, so a handful of us students and grad students got together and proceeded to teach it to ourselves. Other than having to learn a new way to edit, the process wasn’t nearly as bad as one could expect and within a few weeks projects were being copied to miniDV tape and then dubbed down to VHS for departmental screenings at the end of the year. “Der Wolf” was well received, but I was ready to go to much weirder territory in my next film, “F-2.”
I have included a copy of the script along with a link to the finished film. They vary a great length due to what was available. Originally I thought I was going to have access to an old mill by a railroad, but opted instead to use a very cool looking barn in an isolated location. Though now, all these years later, I seem to remember having trouble with the sounds of a nearby blacksmith shop to contend with. Anyway, we got it and it turned out pretty well despite the script to screen differences.
Link to script:
Link to finished film: