With “Side by Side,” producer/interviewer Keanu Reeves and director Chris Kenneally decided to document the film industry’s radical change and transformation. “We had questions that we wanted answers to and decided to go out and ask the great artists and technicians involved in moviemaking,” says Kennealy. So he and Reeves interviewed the likes of David Fincher, James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Wally Pfister, David Lynch, Danny Boyle and Lena Dunham, and each argues the case for film and/or digital cinema.
The film also serves as an informative history of film technology. The filmmakers wanted to show “how the art and science both pushed each other forward,” says Kenneally, and it does exactly that in 99 entertaining minutes. The film seeks to give audiences a clearer understanding of what exactly goes into making a film, and fuel their excitement for both watching and discussing the medium — be it film or digital.
Our interview with Kenneally is below:
What was the most surprising thing you learned by making “Side by Side”?
Kenneally: It was interesting to me that there was no consensus and each person we spoke to had a unique perspective on the impact of digital technology on traditional moviemaking. The opinions didn’t really break down based on any particular demographic, but had more to do with individual personalities and outlooks. Some people like to use the newest technology and venture out into the unknown, whereas others feel comfortable with a particular tool that they have already developed an understanding of. When we began the project I expected a certain generation of filmmakers to be resistant to the new technology and for younger filmmakers to be more open minded. We learned quickly that that wasn’t the case at all.
Which side of the fence are you on?
I think that the cost, ease of use and democratization that the digital tools allow is hard to argue against. I think it is a really exciting time for cinema and I can’t wait to see the new stories, actors, directors and visual artists that will emerge because of this new technology. At the same time I have a great love and respect for film and the people that have crafted amazing works with it. All the movies that inspired me to get into this field were all shot on film. So I hope that artists will still have the choice to work with film in the future.
Are there unspoken similarities that film loyalist share, as well as for digital enthusiasts?
I think talented artists can excel with either tool. I was really impressed by how much everyone we spoke with was concerned with creating the best images possible. No one wants an inferior product to go out to the public. It was really inspiring to know that the industry is truly concerned with creating great art, telling great stories and delivering them to the audience in the best possible way.