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Blame It On Florida (1969)

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Published on Sep 8, 2013

September 6 & 7, 2013 was the 15th annual Melbourne Independent Film Festival. It's a popular event that showcases original, independent films from all over the world. The organizers located a print of a student film I made way back in 1969. In addition to showing the 44 year-old film, they used its title, "Blame It On Florida" as the theme for the 2013 festival.

Back in 1969, I was a 19 year-old college sophomore. My friends and I decided to make what was known as a "short subject" film. These "shorts" were 12 to 14 minutes long and used as filler when a feature film was less than 100 minutes in length. Years ago, theaters strived to have 2 hour movie start times.

While others were producing Vietnam War documentaries, I decided to make a fun film about a couple good looking college girls who visit Florida for Spring Break. My friends Carla Hoover and LaDona Davis were the stars of the film which also featured Randy Molnar, Phil Lusk, and lots of others who volunteered to appear.

Today, there's dozens of ways to watch media... everything from smart phones to HD downloads. In the late 60's, there were no cable networks, no DVD's, no VHS tapes, no cell phones, no computers, no YouTube & no internet. There were 3 basic ways to have your film seen: broadcast TV, movie theaters, or showing the film yourself with a portable projector.

I filmed, Blame It On Florida" over a 3 day weekend in April, 1969. My crew was friends from college and high school who were interested in filmmaking and volunteered their time. Friends like, Dave Rollins, Lowell Thomas, Preston Beck, Larry Bessler, Rick Kramer and many others.

I shot it on a 35mm Arriflex 2B using "short ends". These are unexposed portions of rolls of film that have been previously used. Instead of new 400ft loads, these "short ends" might be 210ft, 185ft, 242ft, etc. They're very inexpensive, but the footage is from all different emulsion batches. I had 3 fixed lenses and a small zoom. We didn't have any lights or grip equipment, just a couple home-made reflectors.

In his Cocoa, FL studio, Ron Schrader recorded the original music tracks that were written and performed by Ron Sansone and his group, "The Blues People".

I originally made 5, 35mm prints of the film that were played in various movie theaters on Florida's East Coast. The U.S. Army paid for a quantity of 16mm and 35mm prints that were used for troop entertainment throughout the world. Most of these prints were destroyed in Vietnam.

Unfortunately, all the original negative and other elements of "Blame It On Florida" were lost when Capital Film Labs in Miami went out-of-business in the 1980's.

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