Filmmaking at 33 1/3

Sally and I made a Zoetrope out of a midsize “Nostalgisk” (round black box) from IKEA. I’d wanted to do a Zoetrope for ages but I couldn’t figure out how to make one spin properly. Then the library book Making “Movies” Without a Camera by Lafe Locke (Betterway Books, 1992) suggested just putting the Zoetrope on top of a turntable. Duh!

Our house is not lacking for turntables. We have a clunky portable one designed for records that read to the blind (it has slow speeds and not the faster ones), a cheap turntable in the basement, a slightly classier one in the girls’ bedroom, one that converts LPs to mp3s in the Study and—the obvious pick for a Zoetrope—a colorful toy turntable that used to grace my desk at the New Haven Advocate and which I picked up for a song at an antique store in New Hampshire 15 years ago.

Having a Nostalgisk handy, rather than having to devise a sturdy round slotted Zoetrope body all by myself meant that Sal and I were drawing and screening films within minutes of starting the project, rather than spending all the time perfecting the apparatus. The Nostalgisk has a raised bottom, so it fits slugly atop the turntable spindle without the need for drilling.

The only hazard, and it’s a fun one, with this set-up is that, at high speeds, the Zoetrope might careen off the turntable and hit viewers in the nose. Our own low-tech form of 3D movie thrills.