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Lost in Light is a videoblog about small gauge filmmaking featuring weekly posts of home movies, work by artists, articles by preservationists and film scholars, video tutorials and other film gems.




For Helen Hill


This is a painful post to write. Yesterday, the film community lost a vibrant star. Filmmaker Helen Hill was killed by a gunman at her home in New Orleans, a victim of a rash of violence that has plagued the city since the new year (story here). To add to the tragedy, she was an active volunteer in the local community as well as a well-loved contributor to the filmmaking world at large. Although her husband was shot as well, both he and their small son survived the attack.

A memorial site is being set up at Photos and memories can be sent to memory(at)helenhill(dot)org.

By all accounts, Helen was both an incredibly sweet and generous person as well as a dedicated filmmaker, animator and film preservationist. When much of her amazing collection of home movies was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina, she took on the task of carefully rescuing the works–and in many cases simply making the best of the damaged films she could salvage (hear her discuss them here). Her enthusiasm for handmade, DIY films, and willingness to share her expertise and passion, was an inspiration to many, including myself. She will be missed terribly.

I never met Helen in person, but we corresponded by email and she graciously included a little write-up of mine in her fantastic and much-loved DIY filmmaking guide, Recipes for Disaster. Much of what I learned about hand-painting film for that article came from working on the film I’m including here.

This Super 8 film is one of my first experiments in hand-painting, created in 1998 in Austin, Texas, and it was largely due to the amazing collection of knowledge included in Recipes that I was able to continue experimenting in this form. Even though we never met, I owe a lot to Helen, and I don’t think my films would be what they are today without her influence. This film is dedicated to her memory.

Click image to view video in Flash | Quicktime

We at Lost in Light send our best wishes and deepest condolences to her family and friends. We are tremendously upset by this news, and she will be in our thoughts.

NB: Forgive the quality of this transfer; this film was not transferred using our Lost in Light transfer system, but is rather a shoot-off-the-wall style transfer from several years ago.


Comment from John Preble
Time: January 7, 2007, -5

Thanks for writing this. Helen was an Angel. John Preble

Comment from s. henderson
Time: February 4, 2007, -5

hi, i’ve been trying to find where i can purchase a copy of Recipes for Disaster. i think the only way was to contact helen directly. any suggestions now? thanks.

Comment from Shawn
Time: July 1, 2007, -5

I heard about Helen because I’m from New Orleans. I never realized she was involved with film. It’s a tragedy she was killed, and the crime there is such a tragedy. I love New Orleans but it’s a tough town.

Comment from kath
Time: January 3, 2008, -5

I think you can still download a pdf version of Recipes for Disaster (& donate to her family) via
it’s a great book. I did a film workshop once on experimental film techniques and the woman teaching had a copy of it (her b/f had given it to her as a present – great present!). a sad loss.