A couple of years ago, things were looking grim for Kodak. The legendary film company couldn’t keep up with the digital age, and were on the brink of bankruptcy, but managed to bounce back last fall. While the company promised to be more contemporary in their approach going forward, they also said that film stock was part of their future as well. And a bunch of filmmakers teamed up to make sure the industry ensures that in an increasingly digital age, there is still room for good, old fashioned physical film stock.
The Wall Street Journal reveals that behind-the-scenes, Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Judd Apatow, and J.J. Abrams went to the heads of studios to make the case for film, and to have them invest in the format. How? The studios have agreed to buy an unspecified amount of film stock each year from Kodak, even if they don’t know how many movies will be shot using it. It guarantees Kodak a consistent flow of money, and a reason to keep making celluloid, even though the photo company initially tried to get the studios to invest in a manufacturing plant. And the feedback, as you might expect, is a bit mixed, but mostly supportive.
"It’s a financial commitment, no doubt about it. But I don’t think we could look some of our filmmakers in the eyes if we didn’t do it," said Bob Weinstein, likely referring to longtime pal, and film enthusiast, Quentin Tarantino.
Meanwhile, Apatow just wants the option available. "[Digital and film] are valid choices, but it would be a tragedy if suddenly directors didn’t have the opportunity to shoot on film," he said. "There’s a magic to the grain and the color quality that you get with film."
But as you might expect, there are practical considerations to make too. "I’m a huge fan of film, but it’s so much more convenient digitally," "Transformers: Age Of Extinction" producer Ian Bryce stated.
But the real test will be how this plays out in the long term. For younger directors, digital is still a much cheaper way to get movies made on a reasonable budget, so it remains to be seen if this solution is merely a minor hold what is the inevitable demise of film stock. That said, if the studios do stay supportive, and make it an option for directors who aren’t just marquee names, we could see celluloid survive for years to come. Thoughts? Leave ’em below.