Lots of creative people fall into the trap of putting off dream projects until some crucial piece of gear falls into their lap. That new guitar pedal or paint software or dual chrome exhaust is all we need to finally make our masterwork, right? This amateur film starts off that way. Sid Laverents gets a Roberts (AKA an Akai M-8) reel-to-reel tape recorder for Christmas in 1970, and he uses it to record a song that's been rattling around in his head.
After a few minutes of introduction, "Multiple Sidosis" becomes one of the most amazing home movies ever. Ever. The movie not only shows Laverents using his new reel-to-reel to create a charming multi-layered version of "Nola" (by using the tape deck's sound-on-sound recording feature), but the film then turns into an elaborate and sophisticated multi-image performance film.
For those accustomed to editing on a computer, it may be difficult to understand just what an undertaking this film was. Effects like this used to require an optical printer - a complex piece of professional movie studio effects gear. Laverents found a way to craft these effects at home, and have them somehow look slick and charming at the same time. Despite how labor intensive this film must have been, the spirit of fun and inspiration are in every scene. Click the movie below to watch the nine minute film.
Even on a modern editing system, this would be a very complex project. Sid had something better at his disposal than a computer, a tape recorder, or a 16mm camera... He had his wits.
The rewards for "Multiple Sidosis" stretch beyond scholarly infamy, and it's more than just a cult oddity. In 2000 the film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation as being culturally significant (the same year as "Apocalypse Now" & "Shaft"). Better still - Sid can enjoy his notoriety in person. He just celebrated his 100th birthday, and he's still creating films.
We can all take a page from Laverents' book (his autobiography is entitled "The First 90 Years Are the Hardest"), Sid has accomplished more than many people would in two centuries. You can buy "Multiple Sidosis" and other films directly from Laverents himself by following the link below.
Happy Birthday, Sid! I have the same reel-to-reel recorder as the one featured in the film. Maybe one day I'll stop dreaming of all the gear I'll never have, and maybe - just maybe - I'll go and create something magnificent on my tape recorder too.