While cultural and ethnographic film had been shot using other gauges, Super 8 quickly became the preferred stock after its release
J.J. Abrams' Super 8 is, in many ways, an autobiographical film. This is not to suggest that Abrams' childhood town was the site of an alien encounter, but rather that the film's central narrative about kids making a movie mirrors Abrams' own experience with amateur filmmaking. In an interview with Time magazine, Abrams reveals that in the early '80s, he and friend Matt Reeves submitted a Super 8 film to a teen amateur film festival where they received high praise and recognition from critics. Citing Steven Spielberg as one of his cinematic heroes, the then 15-year-old Abrams caught the eye of the famous director, who asked Abrams and Reeves to repair his own early 8mm films made in the 1960s. Little did Abrams or Spielberg know that thirty years later the two would again join forces, this time with Abrams directing and Spielberg producing, on a project paying homage to a particular time and style of movie making. (For more on the Spielberg/Abrams relationship in the creation of Super 8, see "Hero Complex" from the Los Angeles Times.)
Perhaps the most important aspect of Super 8 is its emphasis on careful documentation. In Super 8, film documentation plays a key role in providing the evidence and understanding of the creature wreaking havoc on the town. Not only do the kids inadvertently capture its image during their midnight movie shoot, they also stumble across an extensive B&W 8mm film record of its history, left by the ex-government scientist-turned-high school biology teacher. It is in that record that the identity and motive of the creature is finally revealed -- not in full cinematic widescreen, but rather in a small square of light projected onto a wall, accompanied by a separately recorded audiocassette tape.