A Man And A Woman And A Mistress

Published On December 28, 2012 | By Mike Carroll | Cinematography, Eclair Cameflex CM3

Anouk Aimee looks through the viewfinder of an Eclair studio camera in a scene from Claude Lelouch’s tour-de-force “A Man And A Woman” — filmed with the Eclair Cameflex CM3.

I’ve been posting a bit over the past few weeks about my new French mistress, who my wife Bonnie has welcomed into the family. A few of my friends have asked if my love of HBO’s Big Love had gone to another level. I can only respond that, in some way–yes, it has.

That connection would be that in the final season one of the episodes was shot by my favorite cinematographer Haskell Wexler. Haskell had a great love throughout his decades as a D.P. and I have now joined him in that love.

This big love was also shared by Claude Lelouch, who I have written about a number of times on this site. As well as by Carroll Ballard, who directed the great film The Black Stallion.

The love that I am speaking of is the undying and eternal love between a man and . . .

. . . a camera. In this case, the Eclair Cameflex CM3, a 35mm motion picture camera.

Holding my “new” 50 year-old Eclair CM3 only minutes after taking her out of the shipping case and snapping a 400-foot 35mm film magazine (sadly empty) onto the camera rig.

Ever since I was a teenager and first started seeing behind-the-scenes photos of movie sets and movie cameras I’ve been fascinated by cameras. I wanted to work with every one I saw. The Panavision PSR, the Arriflex IIC, the Mitchell BNC. But no camera has held a greater fascination for me than the French-made Eclair CM3 that my favorite filmmakers used. It’s also the strangest looking camera I’ve ever seen.

French cinematographer Raoul Coutard weilding the Eclair Cameflex CM3 on the set of Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless” — heralded in the 1950s as the first all-handheld movie.

I’ve been tracking Eclair CM3 cameras for years on eBay and observed how they, like all 35mm movie cameras, have been coming down in price as movies have made the transition from film to digital capture.

Several years ago I’d given serious thought to buying a full Eclair outfit for $4,500. A pretty steep price for me at the time. Instead, I put my money into the (then new) Pansonic DVX 100A and made Year. A wise decision. But I never stopped keeping tabs on the Eclair CM3s on eBay.

Finally, the price got so low that I could resist no longer.

My Eclair Cameflex CM3 with a newly acquired 50 year-old French Kinoptik 12.5mm lens, mounted on a 40+ year-old O’Connor fluid head and wooden Miller tripod. I’m signing my camera up with the AARP.

And Eclair Cameflex body, without lenses, that had been posted at $999.99 was marked down for two weeks to $799. That was it. Finally, she was within my grasp.

I discussed this with Bonnie and, as in all of my ventures, she encouraged me and supported me. She also knew that I wouldn’t buy a camera simply as a bauble. I would make something with it. To that end, I’ve been buying California Super Lotto tickets every time I go to the grocery store because that’s the only way I’d ever be able to support a whole feature film budget of film and processing for the Eclair!

It’s a lucky man to have not one, but two perfect women!

And she ss a beautiful thing that shares a lot in common with Bonnie, as displayed here:

Bonnie likes Dior sunglasses

Eclair likes Kinoptik lenses.

I shall write more about my new second love in coming days and weeks. (Or is Eclair my real first love? After all, I’ve fantasized about her long before I ever met Bonnie . . . Hmmm . . . Maybe I shouldn’t be putting this out in public . . . ) Until then . . .

Here is a 1960s behind-the-scenes featurette showing Claude Lelouch directing and filming Vivre Pour Vivre with his Eclair Cameflex CM3.


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About The Author

Mike Carroll joined the digital revolution in 1999 with a Sony TRV900 camcorder and Final Cut Pro, when it was only Final Cut Pro and not version 2, 4 or a Suite.

7 Responses to A Man And A Woman And A Mistress

  1. Robert Dalva says:

    It’s the cutter’s Moviola in the background that surprised me. A collector! Had a friend working at Disney who saw a whole debris box filled with them. I love the sound of a CM3 in the morning.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Mike Carroll says:

    Mr. Dalva– Many thanks for the note and for visiting the site. It’s an honor to have you drop by. Your editing on “The Black Stallion” continues to be the finest editing I’ve ever seen. Whenever I do a talk on film editing I always run the final race sequence and it never fails to bring me to tears.
    Happy New Year to You!

  3. Mike, what a fantastic score for you! – I love that beast!!!
    I love the look on Bonnie’s face…she’s really not concerned about the “competition”
    Good going – I know this was one of those bucket list deals for you and I’m glad you were able to cross it off the list!

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  6. Alex Funke, ASC says:

    I fan into your heartwarming interview with Carol ballard, and thence to this blog.

    Bravo for your faith in this wonderful camera. (I, too, have five of them)

    And, it seems as if you share my assertion—- nobody else I know seems to understand— That the CM3 is the only camera tahe can truly be called ** Sexy** Sexy as only French cameras, perfumes, and, yes, even ladies….can be.!

    Cheers, and many best regards. Alex

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