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Jason Toews and fifi (the band)

“Semi-Revolutionary Colons” Video

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Beloved friend / fifi supporter / auteur Matt has always been a home video nut, even before “video” was part of the equation. Any of you who owned (or still own) Super 8 cameras or projectors may remember that they used to sell short excerpts of classic cartoons and even feature films in the Super 8 format. I remember K-Mart on Aurora had a wide selection of those Super 8 films, each in their own brightly-colored cardboard case. I remember seeing those as an 8-year-old kid and thinking, for the first time, “I could actually watch movies, whenever I want to… in my own home!”

Anyway, Matt had a ton of those, plus a deep catalog of home movies he had made: stop-motion animation of Lego spaceships, the protracted destruction of an unwanted bicycle, and many, many other short films where he and his friends magically disappear and re-appear thanks to the demonic power of the camera’s “on/off” button.

fifi’s second album, “fifi Does its Duty,” included an audio collage titled, “Semi-Revolutionary Colons,” an obvious homage to/parody of “Revolution 9” by the Beatles. This seemed a perfect opportunity for Matt to exploit his voluminous collection of Super 8 footage, so he replaced the lightbulb in his tiny hand-cranked rear-projection film editor and set to work…

2 Comments

  1. I can’t remember what I thought at the time… but today, I absolutely adore that video. It perfectly echoes the random “cut-and-paste” nature of the audio. After all these years, I can’t imagine any other images going with that song.

  2. This comment is also on Part 2 of the Fifi Story – so if you read it there…you can skip it here:

    A couple notes about the video for “Semi” –

    First: I had no idea what the song was about.

    B: I had no “vision” in my head of what I was going to do.

    IV: No reason why that should stop me.

    At this time I had a Super 8 camera (a Kodak – I think) and some film (that came in little black boxes). These rolls of film, all of four minutes worth, would be carted by me up to the Kodak Kiosk in downtown Mountlake Terrace. I would spend my paper-route money (or later my ‘real job’ money) on getting them processed. There was never any point where I actually used lighting, or sounds or anything like that.

    Now…why I chose to use 8mm film is beyond me since we already had proof (of the axe yielding video) that I had a video camera. Maybe I wanted to go “cinema verite” – or maybe I just didn’t want to break my EXPENSIVE VIDEO CAMERA (with attached portable video recorder). I don’t know the reason, okay.

    I think it also had to do with the fact that, well, I had an idea. You see, I collected 8mm films. As many and as crappy as I could find. There is something poetically majestic feeling when you stick a reel onto a projector, feed the header through said projector and bring it up to the rear reel. And then push “on” and see the images flicker and tweak the focus and suddenly, you’ve got a film playing. So, yes, I collected 8mm films. A lot of them. Small, large, big, little. If it was 8mm and I could buy it cheap – I would do so.

    Early in my marriage to Miriam we joined the “Friends of the Library.” The had two sales every year and, at this particular time, they were moving to VHS and selling off all their 8mm films. I would, literally, walk in, grab a box of films, walk to the counter, pay for them, walk out, put them in the car, walk in, grab a box of films, walk to the counter… How much were they? Well, the box said $1 per reel. Meaning that to get the four reel Hitchcock Film or the five reel “Saturday Night Fever” (with sound!) it would cost me $4 or $5. But…and this always worked in my favor, the person at the cash box didn’t want to calculate which box had how many reels so within moments they’d throw their hands up and say: “Oh, one dollar per film.” This collection came in handy years later when I sold them all on Ebay and made over $3,000.

    Still…at this point in my collecting I had small reels that would fit into mini players, or I had cartridges (still do) that fit into a Fisher Price Movie Viewer. I would rip these open (not the Fisher Price) and, using my film editor, would edit headers and trailers on them and watch them projected. Some of these were clips from “Star Trek” shows or “Emergency” or others.

    Using all these bits and pieces and the collection of random shots that I took (steam coming up through a grate, car driving, birds flying, sun setting) – I put them all together. There was no coherent thought as to why I cut it the way I did. I DID want to put the “Star Trek” and “Godzilla vs. Rodan” stuff on the end after a lot of the random cuts (running down stairs, traveling in an elevator) and I kept a flying bird (though sometimes it was flying forward, sometimes backward) as a bit of a constant. So it wasn’t COMPLETELY random…though felt like it.

    What did Jason think? Well, honestly, I don’t think he was that impressed. There WERE those random moments when the image changed perfectly in time with the music but, on a whole they were so completely separate to what the music was doing that it’s a wonder they were timed as close as they were.

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