Jacques Bolsey’s films, cameras, and inventions, artifacts of a seminal life and legacy, lay buried in the anonymity of a group of dusty and water-stained boxes. Their
resting place: a cramped basement in the suburban community of White Plains, NY. Forgotten,
these boxes would remain sealed for 42 years following the inventor’s death.
Beyond the Bolex” is a character-driven documentary about the inventor of the revolutionary
Bolex camera, Jacques Bolsey. Bolsey, a Russian refugee living in neutral Switzerland during
WWI through the eve of WWII, envisioned a future where everyone would have access to the tools
necessary to make movies. At the introduction of 16mm film, Bolsey invented the Bolex, a
camera simple and flexible enough that anyone could use it. Little did Bolsey know that this
invention would outlive him, and decades later his camera would be key to bringing about his
dream of a future of accessible filmmaking. Ironically, as the world changed and technology
evermore reflected his visions, the man himself,
the enigma that was Jacques Bolsey, had been forgotten along the way.
Reinventing himself for the third time in as many decades, and leaving Europe stateless, he
emigrated to the United States to pursue the American Dream.
In addition to the Bolex camera, Bolsey created a prodigious number of other inventions, each
designed to solve a problem of the day. From innovative camera designs and plans for an
electric car, to visions of a utopian community, Bolsey felt compelled to shape the future,
and worked feverishly until he drew his final breathh in 1962.
In the new millenium, after learning that her great-grandfather had invented the iconic Bolex
camera, young filmmaker Alyssa Bolsey traces the historical trajectory of the Bolex from her
great-grandfather’s invention through to its current incarnation in the digital age. Within
the documentary, we will unravel the historical narrative of Jacques Bolsey’s intriguing life
story of innovation, cut-throat competition and the countless geo-political obstacles. As we
uncover his life we will simultaneously bring in a contemporary parallel story of two young
underdog inventors who are currently taking Bolsey’s vision into the 21st Century with their
digital version, the Digital Bolex. While Bolsey’s story will be the focus for the majority
of the documentary, the addition of the Digital Bolex subplot and their contemporary methods
of innovation using new technology such as 3D-Printing, will allow us to follow how a seed of
an early idea continues on and is molded and influenced by many hands and technologies over
“Beyond the Bolex” uses the contemporary eyes of Bolsey’s great-granddaughter and the modern
entrepreneurial spirit of Digital Bolex to explore an innovative past that established a
foundation of democratized filmmaking, with significant parallels to our rapidly changing
present. Within this documentary we dig into the history of an inventor’s ideas, the cascade
of innovations that he unknowingly sparked decades after his death, and the lives that were
touched along the way.