Shooting on Film Today

Shoting on Film Today

Here we are… it’s 2016! If you know my history, you know I’m a long-time “film guy”. I’m off the anti-digital bandwagon now, having seen digital cinema come of age and offer a perfectly acceptable and cinematic medium. But I also think that film has a special quality as an artistic medium that defies any technical comparisons of image quality.

I’ve been hearing “film is dead” for 20 years now. And for most of that time it was total B.S. But then things got pretty scary after 2008. The paradigm shift initiated by RED Digital Cinema sparking a revolution in digital cinema. The relentless conversion of cinemas to digital projectors. The end of movie film camera production in 2011. Kodak getting dropped from the S&P 500 in 2010. The Kodak bankruptcy and de-listing by NYSE in 2012. Fujifilm exiting the motion picture negative film business in 2013. Aaton closing its camera business in 2013. Motion picture film processing labs closing all over the U.S.

Film could survive as an acquisition medium even if it was all scanned to digital and projected digitally. I had been suggesting that possibility for years.

But no negative film manufacturer and no operating film lab = film is dead. And it’s scary how close we got to that. But it didn’t happen.

Kodak’s been out of bankruptcy for over two years. In 2014 they they were re-listed on NYSE and made a deal with the major studios that assures the availability of negative film for at least the next ten years. Many labs have closed but FotoKem in Burbank, CA is still going strong. Major film directors, particularly J.J Abrams, Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino, have continued to shoot on film. Tarantino even revived the Ultra Panavision 70 format and resurrected the roadshow in 2015 with The Hateful Eight.

In 2016 two out of the five best cinematography nominees were shot on film. Carol was shot on Super 16mm and The Hateful Eight on 65mm with anamorphic lenses. So it was only the old standard 35mm film that missed out here!

This is only a start. There is more to share and I will be updating this page. Please feel free to get in touch with your comments or suggestions.

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