The story of our first camera

Camera #1 from Kartemquin Films on Vimeo.

In the video above, Kartemquin co-founder and artistic director Gordon Quinn describes the history, technology and practice behind "Camera #1" - the very first Kartemquin camera. Used to film documentaries from our early years such as Home for Life, Inquiring Nuns, and Marco, the camera is unique due to its custom-modified crystal-sync sound set-up, created by Danny Auerbach in the early 1960's at a fraction of the cost of other similar models in existence.

The desire to modify the camera came from witnessing the pioneering Cinéma vérité films of Richard Leacock and D.A. Pennebaker. Sporting a lens bought by Gordon Quinn from the legendary Al Maysles which Gordon notes "was the lens that filmed Sophia Loren" (referring to Showman), the camera is a unique artifact in the history of documentary filmmaking.

For more on how Camera #1 works, and some of the other historic technology we still keep at 1901 W Wellington, read Heather McIntosh's article "A Visit to Kartemquin Films: Uncovering a Documentary Technology Trove."