There’s been some… interesting information added to The Juggernaut’s Wikipedia page. Namely, the cost of the wreck scene.
The scene cost somewhere between nothing and infinity dollars. All the numbers you read in magazines — $10,000, $25,000, $50,000, $100,000 — are a bunch of hooey. If there’s one single thing that can be said of Vitagraph founders Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton, they never met with a lie big enough that they couldn’t say it with a straight face. Remember that whenever you read any publicity material from Vitagraph.
I included a chapter (well, most of it — the parts dealing with The Juggernaut, anyway) from Oren Clayton Reel’s The Life of Earle Williams, and you can rest assured it’s suffuse with lies, too, but it’s colorful at any rate.
(One lie immediately springs to mind: They had to have guards posted to prevent rival independents from shooting footage of the wreck for their own films, but it’s not like they took it with them when they finished. The train stayed wrecked in the lagoon until it was pulled out as part of a scrap metal drive in the Second World War. Were the guards posted until that time? Actually, it’s not too hard to find bits and pieces of it even now, like the two I’m looking at on the table over there.)
If you want accurate numbers, try to find out what an outmoded railroad engine and three old-fashioned passenger cars cost in 1914. (It was released in 1915, but shot the year prior.) The bridge I can’t imagine amounted to a great deal.
That Reel book, incidentally, was a real coup — I got it for well under $175. Usually sells for $250.
Newsflash: Nonsense Copyright Laws
Do you remember, when I was discussing how sane and sensible US copyright law was compared to the EU, how I said that all of Chaplin’s films were still under copyright in the UK? Because I forgot and they’re raising a stink about Behind the Screen because Chaplin’s decedents are a litigious bunch who’d rather like to subsist on their father’s and grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s dime (…eh, shilling or whatever) than do anything useful themselves. A bit like how Sonny Bono thought the proceeds from Sonny & Cher should, in perpetuity, devolve to his family. Don’t blame Mickey Mouse for copyright extensions in the US (well, do blame Mickey Mouse, but not as much), blame Sonny Bono.
Me, personally, I’m fine. I’m an American individual running an American company, and as far as America is concerned, Behind the Screen has been in the public domain since 1944. YouTube… well, it might not be on YouTube. The preview will, Curiously, the preview was claimed by Paramount, because they own The Celluloid Closet, which used roughly the same clip that I used. Their claim is specious. The claim for the whole film is from the Charles Chaplin estate itself, based in Britain.
Updates are forthcoming.
Paramount backed off almost immediately. They usually drag it out for 29 days. It’s refreshing. The preview is in the clear. I’m sure the Chaplin estate is in conference with their lawyers, realizing they can’t get any money out of me, but strategizing what they can do. If only they miss the 30 day deadline, too.
Update the Second:
Well what do you know, they did miss the deadline to file. I’ve won by default.
Behind the Screen (Lone Star, 1916)
Directed by Charles Chaplin
Starring Charles Chaplin
There are LGBT silent films, actually more than you’d imagine. The one I’m talking about today is a Charlie Chaplin two-reeler, Behind the Screen. I sourced it from three prints: primarily from a 35mm nitrate print I got from Italy, a 16mm positive that nearly every copy comes from today (I only needed the last shot from that), and an 8mm positive than had rather attractive titles (I needed those as none of the 35mm titles were in English and the 16mm are horrible replacements. I don’t think they’re original, but they’re original-ish, and look a lot better than the boring old actually original ones.)
Behind the Screen is interesting because the stage boss doesn’t need any more hands and Edna Purviance wants to break into pictures, so she disguises herself as a man and takes a scab job when the others strike. Only Chaplin knows she’s a girl and much comedy ensues when the boss sees Chaplin kissing the scab.
This is the second LGBT Chaplin film. The other is the one-reeler The Masqueraders, also called (and I know it more as) A Woman, which isn’t… really all that LGBT at all. No more than any film where a man is confused for a woman. Behind the Screen, now, has real LGBT themes.
Now I’ve had sickness and illness and illness and sickness. Left kidney failure and double pneumonia. All right now, mostly — just a broken rib from coughing — but I have fallen behind in my projects. I sometimes wonder what it would be like if I were healthy.
You know, almost all summer and autumn, it’s poured down rain on the weekends. Comes the very last day the train is scheduled to run before shutting down for the winter. It’s beautiful, not a cloud in the sky, and for late October not too cold. You could not ask for better filming conditions. Head up to Phillips… and the train broke down before I got there. No more rides until next year. Oh well.
I shot the Chester Greenwood parade on 35mm with my silent-era camera. Greenwood, who you may or may not know, was the inventor of earmuffs (along with a host of other things, but earmuffs are all he’s known for) and a Farmington native. I shot 100 feet of film, which works out to approximately a minute and forty seconds. I figure film development and video transfer of the negative will cost about $150. To make a print of the negative that I can actually project will be around $100 more. And that isn’t including title cards, which will have to be shot separately. (I will develop those myself, though, using the same process that I’ve always used to develop titles — namely, a high-contrast stock pushed two stops and developed in high-contrast D-19 to provide an almost literally black and white image with no shades of gray at all.) It’s all so very expensive. The short I shot for the last Florida Enchantment DVD ten years ago was nearly three times as long and, all told, cost a bit under $400. In future, I may have to go with 16mm. I don’t want to, though — I love 35mm, and it has the authenticity I crave.
I think it’s true that I’ve never shot on video — not since the early ‘90s at any rate. Whether 8mm, 16mm, or 35mm, I do prefer film. Plus, the expense keeps you rather mindful of wasting time. Take a vacation home movie. On video, you can drag it out for hours and hours and nobody in the world wants to watch that. Let’s say I’m shooting on Super 8mm: unless the trip is rather short or boring and I can do with less, I tend to take 34 minutes’ worth of film — that is, ten cartridges. I tend to edit it down to maybe 25 minutes afterwards, and that climbs back up to 30 minutes after I shot and insert the titles.
Same goes for stills, really. Unless it’s very, very dull and mundane, I shoot on film. Typically with one of my half-frame cameras, so a 36 exposure roll of film turns into 72 exposures — more if you load it in darkroom and needn’t waste the first few inches. (Half-frame, or four-perf, film is exactly the same as motion picture film. Full-frame, or eight-perf, is what most still cameras take.) I like film. What can I hold with digital? Nothin’, that’s what. Any photolab can handle half-frame pictures just fine, but I always develop and print my own stills.
I said before that the last seizure I had caused a bit of damage. My bed is repaired and now my clock is at what I consider the best clockmaker in New England. It’s a Gustav Becker clock that I love dearly. I do like good furnishings. If a piece has stood the test of time for 150 or 200 years, then it’s a good piece. It won’t fall apart on me in the coming decades. Wheat from the chaff, you know. It will be a month or more before he’s finished overhauling my clock. Was I talking about a film? I find Chaplin rather… repetitive isn’t the right word, but samey? I find his jokes all rather samey. There are so many good comedians beyond the canonical ones, but sticking strictly to them, I rather like Lloyd more. But that may just be my general aversion to slapstick. That scene with Charlie kissing the “stagehand”? Two or three minutes out of a thirty minute film.
My rating: Meh.
A question that I’m posting rather everywhere: I wonder if anyone knows a good bookbinding service. The book I want bound is rather old — early 16th century. It is completely unbound at the moment — only loose pages. I’d like a binding that fits the book’s era. Vellum, if at all possible. Price… well, I’m, willing to spend a bit but price is certainly not no object.
Queen Elizabeth (Famous Players, 1912)
Directed by Henri Desfontaines and Louis Mercanton
Starring Sarah Bernhardt
Working on this film at the moment while I score another. I should say, our print of it is a horrid little 8mm thing, but I’ve never seen one better. The Library of Congress’s is, if anything, worse.
“Famous players in famous plays” was Adolph Zukor’s slogan. He was an early proponent of feature-length pictures when he founded Famous Players, which later would morph into present-day’s Paramount Pictures. Behind Universal, they’re the oldest Hollywood production company, and the only one to still produce films in Hollywood. Queen Elizabeth was their very first release.
Sarah Bernhardt was certainly famous enough. Next to perhaps Eleonora Duse, there was no more famous actress alive, and I say only perhaps next to her. She made a few films next to Duse’s one: Cenere in 1916. Bernhardt reportedly saw in Queen Elizabeth her one chance to immortal fame when she made it in 1912. Famous Players had taken over production of the film when Pathé Frères, who had been bankrolling L’Histrionic Film, backed out. So it is a French production, but American made, and it premiered at the Lyceum Theatre in Manhattan. Still an operational theatre, I might add. One of the few left on Broadway dating back to the old days.
It’s the days of the Spanish Armada threatening the coast of England and Elizabeth (Sarah Bernhardt) must lead her people — and she leads them to triumph. She’s in love with Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex (Lou Tellegen), but there’s a problem there. Devereux, it seems, is in love with Catherine Carey, the Countess of Nottingham (Nita Romani) and her husband (Max Maxudian) is more than a little jealous. It’s pretty much the plot Elizabeth followed eighty-some-odd-years later.
A fortune teller sees the tragedy ahead and warns Elizabeth of it. The Queen tries to forestall it, giving Devereux a ring which she says he need only return and it will redeem him no matter his crime. The ring, needless to say, goes missing when the Earl of Nottingham appears on the scene. Devereux draws nearer to execution and Elizabeth can’t help but puzzle over why he simply doesn’t produce the ring. He’s too proud, she concludes. Devereux ascends the scaffold as Elizabeth eats her heart out and very soon finds himself without a head.
“After the death of her lover, Queen Elizabeth never had another happy moment and gradually faded away,” a title tells us. So it ends rather markedly different from Elizabeth, where she proclaimed herself in no need of a lover and, indeed, married to England. Her long reign is reduced to simply fading away. Queen Elizabeth jumps forwards many years at the end to Elizabeth’s own tragic end — caused, we’re assured, by the death of Deverux. I say many years — it might be only the next day, so far as the film suggests.
Elizabeth in Les Amours d’Élisabeth, Reine d’Angleterre was one of Sarah Bernhardt’s more famous parts. At nearly seventy in 1912 — Bernhardt was 68 — she was rather old for the virgin queen, but she made it work. She certainly made it work better than Le Duel d’Hamlet, a short she’d made twelve years prior, in which she portrayed her iconic role as the thirty-year-old Danish prince at fifty-six. I believe I reviewed one other of her films already, La Dame Aux Camélias, which she’d made the year before Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth is far and away the better production insofar as filmmaking technique goes. Queen Elizabeth actually looks like a movie — a primitive one, even for 1912, don’t get me wrong — but a movie nonetheless. Camélias is a filmed stage play and makes no bones about it.
Still, watching Queen Elizabeth doesn’t really convey what made Sarah Bernhardt famous to begin with. In Cenere — “Ashes” — you absolutely do know why Duse was considered one of the greats. And even Duse denounced Cenere as a poor effort on her part. It’s frustrating, really, all these glimpses of Bernhardt in one film or another and not a single one of them capturing the great actress side of her. I’m convinced there was such an aspect to her — a few people may be mistaken, certainly, but hundreds upon hundreds held Bernhardt to such lofty heights.
My rating: I really have to say “meh”. As a Bernhardt film, it’s her best, but I can’t in good conscience muster up a good rating,
The out-of-towners are still here — the ones who fled to here to escape COVID-infested cities. I think they expected it to be a cheap to live in rural Maine. No, it’s not. Not at all. Our growing season is so short, nearly all of our non-milk groceries have to be imported from other states. And as far as rentals go — if they’re looking for places that will wave the first and last month’s rent and have no security deposits, as I’m told is the case in many southern cities desperate for workers — it’s no wonder so many find themselves homeless on arrival here. Landlords can charge whatever they want and there will still be a waiting list to get in the apartment. Even if we were desperate for workers, I can’t see people caring all that much. We’re “laid back”, but not in the western beachcomber sense, rather in the “can’t be bothered if you live or die” sense, And if it’s anything like the possums you read about in news articles who arrive here clinging to the underside of trains (we’ve no possums here — they’re most frightful looking beasts — little goblin things), there’s little worry, because they won’t survive the winter. Already I imagine those living in Bonney Woods or especially those down by the river are rethinking their life choices. It dips well under freezing at night now and struggles to reach the fifties during the day. And, if they did make it through the winter, I’d really hate to be down on the intervale when thaw comes. They’ll very literally be underwater. Under very cold water. With the vaccine roll-out, I’d have thought they’d gone back home.
I did what I said I’d never do and issued copyright strikes on the Internet Archive and YouTube for The Juggernaut. Jakej has uploaded pretty well our entire catalogue to the Internet Archive and it’s been mirrored to YouTube on The Silent Film Channel and Film Buff Cinema. All but one I don’t have any real issue with. They are, generally speaking, in the public domain after all. That one exception is The Juggernaut. The thing is, as a photo-reconstruction, three-fifths of The Juggernaut is original material not in the public domain. YouTube took it down right away and the Internet Archive did as well after pondering over it for forty-eight hours.
To look at another example that I didn’t and I’m not taking issue with, when Fay McKenzie died in 2019, traffic spiked into the thousands for Station Content, but not on my video of it — newspapers linked to another channel that posts public domain material. McKenzie was the oldest performance committed to film — appearing as a baby in Station Content in 1918 — and one of the last living silent actors. Some of the films we sourced from for our release of Station Content are English, others were translated from French and Spanish. It took some effort to join all the disparate elements together to reconstruct the most complete film possible. All of the titles were re-creations of re-release-style Triangle titles. And the video linked to was not the final version — it had not incorporated all the versions in their various languages — that, if anything, hurt me the most.
Then you’ve got films like Across the Mexican Line, with basic text- reconstructions of a couple scenes, but you know fully well they’re sourced from your copy as it’s literally the only one that exists. Or the Henri Andréani films, which were translations from the original French. I probably could strike those. Well, YouTube at least will take down anything if you issue a claim. It’s in their interest to avoid a lawsuit and they’ll settle immediately if it means they won’t face one, even if they’d win. But in those cases, at least the original aspects of the video are under copyright and a claim would be legitimate. Could they be stripped out? Absolutely they could, but that would require work, and the majority of these re-uploaders don’t do work. Some do — there’s a copy of Romeo and Juliet on YouTube that someone has taken the time to replace the titles on and score themselves — but they are very much the exception.
In other news, here’s my collection of Kodak 2366. I shall experiment shooting on it and processing it myself, but anything I want to publicly display, I’ll send off to Color Lab. They can do a better job than I can. I’ve also got other orthographic stocks: Ortho Litho Plus and Sonic 25. I’ll experiment with those as well. Sonic 25 is the only one designed as a camera film — the others are meant for duplication or making traveling mattes — but I’ve seen shoots done on 2366 and it looks lovely — and it’s a great deal cheaper than Sonic 25. Plus, it’s a very slow and super-fine-grained as film stocks were in the silent era. Sonic 25 is a modern film — they didn’t have ISO 25 film a century ago.
I intend to make a few actualities as tests: the train on the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes heritage railway up in Phillips and the Chester Greenwood parade here in town. I need full sun, though, to properly exposes ISO 6 film. The train only runs on weekends and no weekend in the past few months has been at all sunny. There are only two days left before the season closes. I’ll have to shoot then, even if the conditions are poor. I could do the narrow gauge railway in Portland — they run through most of December — but there’s a strong local interest in the SR&RLRR as the hub was here in Farmington. All of it would be publicly posted on my Farmington blog, but they’d be merely tests for a potential narrative film I could be interested in maybe making someday, perhaps. Three one-hundred foot spools (a minutes and forty seconds each at 16fps) and two fifty-foot spools (fifty seconds). These are short-ends — I got ‘em cheap — $260 for the lot. I’d buy a fresh two-thousand foot spool (thirty-odd minutes) straight from Kodak if I wanted to get serious.
Ride on a Runaway Train (Educational, 1921)
Directed, starring, and everything else by Lyman H. Howe
“Long believed lost, a copy of the film was discovered in 2010 in a cache at the New Zealand Film Archive”. Well, isn’t that nice. I mean, I’ve long had a complete print of it struck in 1946 and I’m personally aware of at least one other, but hey.
Nine-tenths of this is footage of somebody’s vacation, presumably Lyman H. Howe’s. Views of trains passing by from the ground, views taken from trains as they’re moving, trains making turns, trains on bridges, trains in tunnels, just a bunch of footage of trains. Interspersed with this is animation that provides some semblance of a narrative. Namely, that “something happened” … “the train is running away!”
After that, we get more of the same, but now under-cranked so it seems like the train is moving dangerously fast. I say “train” but it’s obviously several trains. Lots of footage of cog railways descending mountains.
Eventually, the train reaches the end of the line, and in an animation, smashes to bits sending everyone and everything up into the air. “All out,” the porter says, after coming to earth. “Last stop”.
There’s absolutely nothing to this film beyond pretty scenery and a few bits of competent animation. For what it is, it isn’t bad, but there’s very little there. I’ve been asking myself whether if there had been even a couple more bits of animation to flesh out the narrative it would be an improvement or if the extreme vagueness of “something happened” that they went with was the best option, and I don’t know.
My rating: Meh.
Available from Harpodeon.com
System is Everything (Metro-Drew, 1916)
Directed by Sidney Drew
Starring Mr. & Mrs. Sidney Drew
And now a film you will likely not ever see, at least until I get around to releasing it. A Metro-Drew short entitled System is Everything. After Sidney Drew and Jane Morrow left Vitagraph, they landed at Metro, where they had their own little team to make pictures largely without oversight. Metro-Drews they’re called. His First Tooth is reasonably common and plays on TCM all the time. The others, no so much.
System is Everything finds Mr. Hornby firing the thirteenth cook. Mrs. Hornby is in despair. It’s so hard to get help at all out in the country where they live, and it’s the night before Mr. Hornby’s birthday party too! Never mind such foolish feminine notions, Mr. Hornby declares. What they lack in their domestic staff is system, and if Mrs. Hornby would only run her home like he does his office, they’d have no trouble at all!
Mr. Hornby advertises for a cook, outlining his demands, which are:
Breakfast, 8 a.m., No later
Luncheon, 1 p.m., No later
Dinner, 7.30 p.m., No later
Monday – Wash
Tuesday – Iron
Wednesday – Scrub
Thursday – Bake
Friday – Mend
Saturday – Clean
The first applicant didn’t want the job — she only wanted to see what Mr. Hornby looked like. That might be a sign, but it isn’t to him. Eventually, he finds Clara, who’s quick to accept his conditions so long as they are strictly adhered to. No matter. That’s all Mr. Hornby wants, after all. They arrive home late that night, and since it’s so late, Mr. Hornby says Clara can just make them a very light meal. Uh-uh. Clara pulls out a sandwich for herself but points to the list: “Dinner, 7.30 p.m., No later”. It’s later. No dinner. Clara, poor dear, it’s only fair that they let her rest, Mr. Hornby explains to his wife as they make themselves something cold from the icebox.
The next morning, they’re delayed in the bedroom. Mrs. Hornby has a gift for her husband of a new gold pen. As he plays with it, breakfast times passes. They arrive to the dining room and sit down, and just as they do, Clara clears away the food. When Mr. Hornby objects, she only points to the list: “Breakfast, 8 a.m., No later”. Well. That’s fair. They move to the kitchen and sit down to some grapefruit and tea that they’ve made themselves.
It’s Mr. Hornby’s birthday and they first go to a show. It ends a minute before one. They rush home and sit down. Mr. Hornby only has times to serve himself before Clara snatches his plate away.
Mr. Hornby receives a telegram. One of the guests for his birthday party may be a little late for dinner. He slyly corners Clara and offers her $10 to let up on the system, just for the night. Of course, not a problem. At 7:25, Mrs. Hornby is worried that none of the guests have arrived yet. She approaches Clara and offers her $10 to ignore the system this once. Why, certainly.
“Well, Henry, how is the system working?” a friend asks at the party.
“The system is the thing,” Mr. Hornby declares. He runs his office by it, he runs his home by it. Anyone can do it.
“Oh, Henry, you know your old system has failed,” Mrs. Hornby chides him, “I gave Clara ten extra to let up on it.”
“And after I had Clara so perfectly trained!” Mr. Hornby bemoans.
Just them, Clara comes in. Before she’ll let up on the system any more, she tells Mr. Hornby, he’ll have to give her a clean ten dollar bill. She won’t have the filthy thing he gave her. “I’m sanitary — I am.”
The film ends with the whole table of guests laughing at Mr. Hornby and his system.
I like the Sidney Drew shorts (Most of them. Not all work, like Wanted:- A Nurse), and I like the ones made at Metro, too. Like most of them, this one was written by Charlotte Walton Ayres. Houses aren’t businesses (nor are countries, for that matter, to get political for a moment) and it’s perilous to attempt to run one on business-like principals. I do enjoy this film a lot. I’ve only seen two other Metro-Drews: His First Tooth and another that’s title is slipping my mind. Set in a hotel. Of those, System is Everything is very easily my favorite. My copy is on 28mm, a gauge which I don’t have a lot of. I had to have a film gate manufactured to fit it. Regardless,
My rating: I like it.
In altogether different news, I bought a whole bunch of Kodak 2366 short ends to see what they’d look like used not as a dupe negative stock but as a camera negative. Same as most orthochromatic film, it’s ISO 6. It does, however, incorporate some kind of protection against halos and light-piping. Not exactly a traditional anti-halation layer but something like one. I have found light-piping is super common shooting directly on these duplicating films if you’re not extremely careful. Again, the ISO scale didn’t exist in the silent era, but silent era stocks were very, very slow and ISO 6 is not out of line with them. In full sun with the f/3.5 lens on my silent camera (my only one), I can do 20fps easily and 16fps without a problem in the world. Hand crank whatever speed you like, but the spring-wound automatic function self-cranks at about 20fps.
My photo blog, shooting stills on ortho film, is going great. I’ve in mind two actualities I want to film already. If they go well, and if the film festival does too, I’m in mind to drop $1,000 or so on 2,000 feet of fresh 2366, rope in some theatre students from the school, and shoot an actual narrative film. Let’s say a split reel to single reel in length — eight to sixteen minutes long or so. That would only be 1:1. You usually want to give yourself 2:1 — that is, two spoiled shots for every successful one — but, you know, just do it right the first time and it won’t be a problem. I think that would be simultaneously a tremendous headache — making films is always a tremendous headache — and tremendous fun. I’ve not thought of a story at all. Something that incorporates town, at any rate. The second festival would include a day of Maine film and it could be screened then.
After all I’ve said in the last Enchanting post, shall I sell DVDs on Amazon? Probably. Blu-Rays? Probably not, aside from The Juggernaut, which I’ve already got a fair stock of. They’re just too expensive to make and nobody buys them. I’ll release another when A Florida Enchantment is finished. Also, I’m seriously eyeing a mountain tricycle. I don’t personally drive. I need to coordinate the acquisition of a car and a driver when I do. Me, personally, I’m scared to death of anything much faster than a horse. But you don’t need to drive here in town, and I’m hardly alone — about 40% of my compatriots here don’t drive either. But what if I want to go to Philips to take pictures, eighteen miles northeast of here? I can’t walk that distance, and I’d want to carry a good bit of gear with me: a couple of cameras, some lens kits, filters, red-green-blue filters for taking color separations photos on B&W film, tripods, shoes, bunch of stuff. My balance isn’t great in the best of times and I’ve got bouts of terrible vertigo when I’ve no balance at all, so a bicycle is out. An off-road tricycle is the obvious solution.
My other blog. No, the other-other one
As I suggested in my previous post, I had a mind to start a primarily photo blog about my hometown and whatever else. As an excuse to shoot more film, no other reason. And so I did: aroundfarmington.wordpress.com.
Does any reader know of a motion picture lab that can develop (and ideally make one-light prints) of unusual stocks like Ultrafine Ortho Litho or Svema Blue Sensitive on 35mm? I’ve a mind to start a new blog about my hometown and environs and want to shoot some actualities for it, but to keep them looking like the late 19th, early 20th centuries, they’ll by necessity have to shot on orthochromatic stock. Yes, you could fake it on video — I’d just need to drain the red channel —, but what’s the point of that? The whole reason for the blog would be an excuse to shoot more film. I could do it myself — I’ve all the equipment necessary — but my darkroom is tiny and it’s a tight fit to even process still film in it, let alone hundreds of feet of motion picture film.
Both stocks have got motion picture style sprocket holes rather than the more rectangular ones of still film, though I can’t imagine that mattering a whit. I’ve long thought the Ultrafine stock was just repackaged Kodak Fine Grain Duplicating Positive Film 2366, but I’ve no proof of that.
Should anyone know, it would be very handy to me. I’d really rather not do it myself. Comment here or contact.
Standard color chart. The most obvious difference is pure red, third from the left, second from the bottom. On pan film, it comes out as slightly darker than medium gray. On ortho film, it’s pitch black. All the predominately red colors are dark, though, and all the predominately blue colors are abnormally light.
Edit: Found one — or, rather, one replied to my oddball question. Cinelab down in New Bedford has never done it but are perfectly willing to give it a shot. They can’t push it as much as I do — I push it two stops to bring it up from ISO 6 to ISO 25 — because their equipment can’t keep film in the developer for twelve minutes — it maxes out at four. That said, you can either leave it in the soup longer or else heat the soup — same effect. They could find some other way to achieve what I want. Still, if you’ve got other options, let me know. ISO 6 is very much in line with what film was in the silent era. It was slow and needed a huge amount of light to make an exposure — full sun, really. ISO 25 is much easier to work with for modern shooters. Those two stops make a world of difference.
I emailed half a dozen places and even ColorLab didn’t reply, which disappoints me greatly. I’ve always held ColorLab as the gold standard photo lab. Even if the answer was just “no”, I’d have liked them to tell me. One of the few labs in the world equipped to handle nitrate film for making preservation copies.
Update: ColorLab did reply a little belatedly. Their reply was essentially they don’t know but will see what they can do. A week an a half later and none of the other labs I contacted have deigned to respond. You know, even when some crank contacts me spouting nonsense that they’re weird insistent on, I at least politely blow them off. I don’t just ignore them.