Before television came to Australia in 1956 and well before the digital age, home movies shot on film were the way to go. It was expensive, time consuming and required considerable expertise. Yosef Steiner, Natziv Betar (Head of the youth movement, Betar) decided to use this medium as a means of promoting the annual end-of-year summer camps by creating a movie called THE SHMENDRIK CAMPER.
The first person to be chosen as SHMENDRIK (awkward and inept nonentity) was Philip Mirjam but when he got sick Aaron Ninedek was chosen as his replacement. As Aaron’s surname was often conflated to Nudnik (a bothersome person) the title was changed to NUDNIK THE SHMENDRIK CAMPER.
Filming was done at the KINGLAKE WEST camp in 1954/55 and many of the participants look back fondly to that time.
Even as a silent movie (adding sound was way beyond our means and expertise) it was a great hit and it was shown at many venues where there were potential camp attendees.
As time went by it lost its lead-in title and closing credits and was finally rescued by Raffi Lehrer who transferred it to videotape. Later, it was put on disk but in the process the time stamp was inadvertently added and that is the format we see now. The original film, what’s left of it, is in the Betar Library in Israel.
However, in July of 2015, as part of the 162SmilingFaces revival, Harry Stuart re-edited and restored the 20 minute version, added titles, credits and a soundtrack of music - and trimmed it down to 9 minutes. The editing selectively removed repetitious scenes but left the intent of the movie intact. The restoration added contrast and, by removing the saturation, eliminated the color tinge which brought it back to black and white. The scratches and other imperfections were purposely left as they were to make it look like an old film - but primarily because the budget did not cover the individual restoration of the film's 16,200 frames.