"Neo-Silent Film" uses the 35mm hand-cranked equipment and techniques of the non-synchronous sound era in both the production and exhibition of film while, at the same time, utilizing every other modern film-making resource. Although parts of some films may be intended to look and feel like the original black and white films of the "silent" era, recreating traditional "silent'' films is not the underlying intention of "Neo-Silent Film".
Because the school of Neo-Silent film-making is not restricted to being an attempt to recreate the past, the use of color film stock is not an issue nor is the use of the computer. This new school of film-making uses the best from all generations of film technology in order to explore the art form with an understanding of the past that unlocks a new form of expression.
The use of hand-cranked cameras and projectors to control and vary the frame rate according to the action and circumstances of filming and during live exhibitions, is one of the major components of this new school of film-making.
Post-production processes include the artistic use of intertitles and editing techniques designed for non-synchronous sound. The performances of the players and staging of the scenes is directed without the confinement of the additional burden of sound recording equipment. Instead, a musical score is created that intertwines with the action and titles plus includes musicians and sound effects that are visible to the audience for live performances.
The same problems that confronted the pioneer film-makers have to be dealt with by the "Neo-Silent" film-makers:
How to pay for it all is a major question, as is where to exhibit the finished works. Live theatrical performances will initially be limited to special venues such as Silent Film Festivals, yet the latest technology permits releases for sale in the DVD format on the internet. What subjects to produce is another important decision. Again, using the example of the pioneer film-makers, actualities of major events is the logical place to start. It is no surprise that the "Neo-Silent Film" began with a silent newsreel project to document the 100th Anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
The term "Neo-Silent Film" describes this new school of film-making and evolved from a barnstorming session in Charlie Chaplin's favorite booth at the Essanay Cafe in Niles, California on June 12, 2006 while Sprague Anderson, Sam Gill, Louise Giusto, George Hall and David Kiehn were discussing the post-production phase of "San Francisco's Triumph Over Disaster", which is their Neo-Silent Newsreel Film about the 100th Anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. The group had already been calling their project a "silent newsreel", yet a more encompassing term was needed for future narrative films. As a result, a new school of film-making was born in the very spot where Charlie Chaplin himself found inspiration.
"Triumph Over Disaster" is a Neo-Silent Newsreel about the historic event at Lotta's Fountain on April 18, 2006.