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10 Reasons Why Filmmakers Should Shoot Film (According to Kodak)

10 Reasons Why Filmmakers Should Shoot Film (According to Kodak)

Now that Kodak is out of bankruptcy, it wants to reassure filmmakers that they are still in the business of making movies.

“We will be making film for the forseeable future,” Bob Mastronardi, sales and technical manager, Kodak, said yesterday during “Want the Film Look? Shoot Film,” a Kodak-sponsored panel during IFP Film Week. “I want to reinforce the fact that film is still here and we are still here.”

Despite the prevalence (and affordability) of digital, there are still films being shot on film, including some of the best indies of recent years, such as “Beasts of the Southern Wild, “Fruitvale Station,” and “Blue Jasmine.”

“In this day of everything digital, it seems like film is never even considered,” said Mastronardi. “If you are interested in doing your project on film, you should consider film.”

The panelists included cinematographer Brian Rigney Hubbard (“Circumstance”), producer Nekisa Cooper (“Pariah”), cinematographer Brett Jutkiewicz (“Daddy Longlegs”) and director Andrew Renzi (“Franny”).

They all provided some strong reasons why film is better than digital. 

Here are the Top 10 Reasons Why Filmmakers Should Shoot Film:

1. It’s simple.

 “When you’re shooting digital, you’re creating these huge files that go into a hard drive that have to be backed up on a set. Film comes in a can. You shoot it and you put it back in the can and send it to the lab. It’s very simple.” — Mastronardi

2. Film provides better color.

 “You’re losing all of this information with the digital medium. When it goes big, the shadows won’t be comprised of color. With film, it’s still actually recording information in there. It still has the granularity and a certain amount of color.” — Rigney Hubbard

3. It forces you to be efficient. 

“If you’re shooting on film, your day is going to be more efficient. You have to know the in and out. It’s good to have this discipline and limitation which forces you to be efficient. It’s almost freeing because you have to work harder ahead of time.” — Jutkiewicz

“Preparation breeds freedom. You have to have a clearly articulated aesthetic and you’ve got to test that ahead of time.” — Cooper

4. It creates an atmosphere of trust.

“When you can make a case for your film being shot on film,
it’s almost freeing a little bit because you have that trust. You’re probably
not getting dailies back every night and being able to watch them. Producers
aren’t able to make sure everything is going okay at every step up the way…That
kind of mindset translates to the work environment and the feeling of a flow
that you get shooting on film that you don’t always get shooting on digital
when you have monitors showing you exactly what the final image is going to
look like. Film reintroduces a trust which is a great environment to work in.” — Jutkiewicz

5. It’s flattering. 

“A lot of actresses desire to be shot on film. It has that
softer look. When you’re aging, you prefer that.” — Mastronardi

6. It’s easier to edit.

“I hear from editors sometimes if there are
multiple cameras on the set, they’re up all night trying to figure out what’s
going on with all the footage.” — Mastronardi

7. It’s a safer bet.

“People have been given a lot of PR saying film
is expensive, you’ll save money if you do it on video or digital. As you go
through that process with your producer and start researching what your goals
are, you find out very quickly that there are a lot of options. A lot of times
film can be an option on a very low budget. It can guarantee a deliverable in
the end that isn’t compromised.” — Rigney Hubbard

8. You can make changes later.

“I know a really good ‘hard drive.’ It’s film. It’s there.
It’s scannable. You can do stuff with it’s later. To have film and
to be able to work with it in post-production is really exciting.” — Renzi

9. It looks like film.

If you want that film look, just shoot film. I don’t know of
a process that can do what film can. That randomness of the grain is the
difference of film. Film has information even in the empty space between your
characters – there’s something going on all the time.”

10. Put bluntly: It just looks good.

“Film looks good, really good.” — Jutkiewicz

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Comments

Ray (@RaySquirrel)

I have worked independently with both film and digital video and I can say without any doubt that most of these points are B.S.

1. It’s simple. No it’s not! You need to guage light quality, sound sync, exposier level, image coposition through the viewfinder, and even if you do all that once you send it off to the lab there is no guarantee you’ll get the image you were looking for. Digital, the final image is right there in the viewfinder, and if not you can touch it up in post.

2. It provides better color. That is a matter of taste. The only reason why people say that film looks better then digital is because we are accustom to the look of film. It is as if you were to throw a dart at a wall and paint a target where the dart landed and say this is a perfect shot.

3. It forces you to be efficient. Only if you have no idea what you’re doing.

4. It creates an atmosphere of trust. Said nobody ever.

5. It’s flattering. The look and quality of a recorded image has nothing to do with celluloid versus digital. It has to do with lighting, lenses, the composition of the frame, and the resolution of the capture device. 35mm film has a better resolution than 16mm film the same way a high definition digital camera has a higher resolution then a standard definition digital camera.

6. It’s easier to edit. Not in the least.

7. It’s a safer bet. Whatever that means, No.

8. You can make changes later on. And you can’t do this with digital?

9. Because it looks like film. If this is not a tautology it’s pretty close to it.

10. Film just looks good. See my responses to 1-9.

Cinekam

I'm a cinematographer who started out shooting film, though I currently shoot mostly digital. I still do shoot film occasionally, and I prefer it for many of the reasons posted in other comments. What really bothers me is how digital diehards get angry at people who want to shoot film. It's like with digital music, how fans of digital get genuinely angry that the vinyl LP won't go away. They claimed LP's were dead 25 years ago and they are still here, better than ever, and they are fuming mad about it. Read an article about the continued vinyl resurgence and they troll relentlessly as if the existence of vinyl was a mortal threat. Cinema itself exists because of film, if you love cinema and hate film you must be self loathing. I made it affordable for my self to shoot film 14 years ago when all my friends suggested I shoot DV. I'm damn glad I ignored them. If you shoot a 90 minute $250,000 movie on S16, film, processing and transfer will run about $30,000 then you save at least $5,000 on a less expensive Arri 416 rental over Alexa. Not factoring in any other potential cost savings of shooting film, digital will save around 10% over shooting film. The higher your budget the lower the % cost of film. Isn't it worth the 10% to have your movie look like a film?

Thom

I've had the chance to read thru some comments here. Very salient points for digital. But the one overlooked to support film overall is the archive. Do you realize when your unlimited footage is backed up in digital, it gets logged into a crevasse of numbers that make ZERO sense to anyone other than the librarian whom logged it? Good luck if that guy/girl is still with the same company years down the road. I've seen some wretched digital camera reports. So good luck locating any shots if you decide to revisit footage. Also, storage is always updated. Hardware suppliers make it this way to bleed production behind close doors. But who cares…you sure saved some dough during the shoot, right? Meanwhile, after years and years and years, it's a slow trickle of updating, re-copying, shuffling, etc…you don't think these things get lost in this constant ebb and flow? Do you know…that LTO tapes and players need constant upgrading and that they don't have backwards compatibility? Well, they do, but let's say you copy to LTO 1. An LTO6 player will not read it. That means you have to first copy all footage to LTO3 than you can copy to LTO1. That's all the footage shot. Yeah, it includes a great cowboy of the grip eating donuts while they let the camera roll. Atop all this, ALL POST PRODUCTION COMPANIES DO NO SHARE SAME WORKFLOW, EXCEPT when it comes to dealing with film.

Film sits in a limestone vault ready to be re-scanned at whatever resolution is now up to date. 6K already existed in the film world years ahead of digital's version of 6K. Film is waiting for 12K to catch up.
Something to consider.

smith

You need to understand one thing to see the future of film. Film will never look better then it does today and digital will never look worse .Digital is just getting started and will surpass film on everyone of those points.

Mark

Film is awesome but Digital is the way to go, even more so for Indie film makers! look at all the Major films shot on Reds, and Arris digital cameras! they look amazing, not to mention, the so called film look has changed to the digital red and arri cameras now so that is now the so called film look.

john defazio

This is just a marketing scheme for Kodak. each of these 10 points can be argued for Digital/HD as well. Same BS, new day. i learned on film and am glad i did, but film is a dead medium strictly reserved for wine & cheese film-snobs who refuse to adapt to the inevitable changes in this industry.

Meredith Madri

I use film… Because I LOVE IT!

Victor Goss, ASC

Sounds like a sales pitch to me. I happily argue every point made, however, he (who obviously has not spent enough long hours on a film set) left out the fantastic smell of emulsion next to the camera when you have to STOP and RELOAD every 3 and 1/2 minutes. (jk – lol)
PS: I've shot multiple millions of feet of 35mm and I don't know how much 16, and Su8. It was great fun, and so was my 1965 Shelby Mustang Clone at 9 mpg.

Ramnathan

There were arguments when digital media was introduced for recording of sound. And many supported analog recording over digital. But technology was not mature then. Now no body, knows much about spool tapes and its uses. I think same with film. as the digital technology gets mature, films might become obsolete. I tried for those days arguments about analog and digital sound. but could find only this link:

http://djdtime.com/analog-recording-advantages/

Paulina

Get me a 16mm for the prize of a 5D and I will shoot film. It isn't about choice, it's about availability.

KOF

Wait, now HOW is the Alexa different from the CineAlta different from the Red different from the Phantom? And just when I shot on that darn DVX they come out with the tapeless HVX which does a, b, c, and d better and then they come out with the HDSLR which can do x, y, and z and then I rent the FS100 only to realize that the some guy says "No, stick with the the 5D and get these lenses; it'll be better than that FS100" but I see that the Canon Cinema Eos line is pretty sexy but I just saw someone shoot with the Black Magic which can do all the things the Eos can – except for this one little thing about contrast in darker areas – but it's soo much cheaper, and his friend told me "No, try out that Bolex Digital" and his friend the Oscar-winning DP told him "it ain't the camera; it's how you use it" and just when I decided to settle on that idea in comes my newbie cousin with his Red Scarlet and he's telling me I'm literally using "Yesterday's" digital cinema camera. A new one came out today and that in two months this whole other thing is coming out, but he's rich so he doesn't care if he sells his Scarlet because he's already gearing up for the 8K and 12K world which will go beyond the limitations of what the human eye can perceive but he's driving me nuts with these questions what are the best FILM lenses to rent with an adaptor so he can get that film look and why is sensor size such a big deal and why would a camera 10 times the cost of another have less latitude than the cheaper one and then he starts about RAW files and what does he need to know about all these codecs and why does each maker have it's own one and some of the editing tables can't take RAW or this or that codec and what is h.264 as opposed to Apple ProRes and why he can't work with it because Avid doesn't read it well and he spent all this money on the Avid software but there's always this thing about Flash on his Ipad to view footage and how it's great that he can now shoot 500 to 1 and figure it out in the editing room, but he took 4 years to cut his 3 minute short because he had so many hours of footage and that rendering stuff took a really, really long time and something about staring at the screen and not even being able to do something else like cutting another sequence while the computer was rendering.

Just give me a can of raw stock PLEASE! I'll pay more to stop driving me INSANE.

Sweeney

Those who know, know pro's who demand film: Christopher Nolan (Batman, Interstellar), Zack Snyder (Man of Steel 1+2), Malick, JJ Abrams (new Star Wars, Trek), Gilligan (Breaking Bad), Darabont (Walking Dead), Coens (inside Llewyn Davis), Francis Lawrence (new Hunger Games) and the list goes on… The Butler, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Spiderman 2, Don Jon, Out of the Furnace. BUT I guess none of them know what works best for their projects.

Adey J

Film is not vegan. Think of the ickle animals.

Alessandro Machi

If you ever want to see how amazing film looks when transferred to video, check out ABC's "The Middle", it's on every Wednesday night at 8pm. Amazingly vivid and colorful, but not by simply amping the chroma.

Alessandro Machi

I'm surprised that nobody is attempting to meld both film and the Alexa on the same shoot. It seems like the backlit and backlit wide angle stuff would come out better with film and would match up with the less contrasty front lit Alexa shots.

Stefan

And the #1 reason… keep Kodak in Business.

It's wonderful to see this classically arrogant company on their knees, begging.

Dave

I'm an old film guy. Been in Hollywood since '74. Grew up using film and loved it.

But the last film I shot (which was in 1993), the old-time Hollywood negative cutter I hired nearly destroyed it. Blemishes throughout on my previously pristine neg, thanks to him.

Now that digital tools have become just as good–especially in terms of exposure latitude–I can no longer justify film as an acquisition medium…on anything. And the Arri Alexa settles it for me–a real Digital Cinema camera, finally.

Now, we no longer edit on film, nor do we cut negative, and (in most cases) we no longer deliver on film.

Nice try Kodak. Keep making the sep & print stocks.

But for everything else, film IS over.

Rahim

I went to school and learned to shoot film. When I got out I spent every dime I could trying to create a reel with film productions. It was such an expensive format to learn in. I love film but the practical uses for digital has made me a better filmmaker because I can experiment more, shoot more footage and I am not held back by money and film stocks. Bottom line is film has been to expensive for people that are trying to learn the medium. The biggest lesson I always learned from film was the story was the most important thing. If these are the 10 reasons to shoot film you guys better come up with another 10 or it's over.

Derek

In what universe is Argo an independent film?

Who's in charge of copy-editing this site, anyway?

Jordan

Winston–

The medium isn't the message. Only in film do people still maintain this conceit; a painter who uses acrylic vs. oil doesn't necessarily make them a better or more legitimate painter (which seems to be the suggestion amongst my friends who say "you can't call yourself a filmmaker if you don't shoot film".

I don't think the distinction needs to be made…its not like one says "I'm an acrylic-maker" or "I'm an oil-maker". Film used to be the only game in town. It's not so anymore. I've used both, and there's no reason to continue shooting film when the cost is so reasonable on the other side of the fence and the difference in quality is no longer stark.

Winston C. Dumas

You forgot to put #11: Because you're called "film"-makers for a reason.

Jordan

Things take twice as long shooting film for no budget/low-budget creators.

Ultimately, many filmmakers want to "see what they got" which is impossible on film. Technical difficulties are much easier to spot/correct, which is essential. All you need is one pinhole of flashed film, a wonky mechanical part in the camera, etc. and you can ruin one or more days on a film set.

That said, I like Paula's suggestion. I know if I had the money I would shoot film, but after using the Arri Alexa on my last short, I find even less reason to deal with the risk of film.

paula

It is so much more expensive and you need more people on set. Maybe the "shoot on film" incentive should came in the form of a cheque… or some fund for "indie films that dare". We all love film, the problem is we can´t afford it…

Jackson

11. It's way more expensive

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