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Must Read: Martin Scorsese’s Statement Supporting Kodak’s Continued Production Of Film Stock

Must Read: Martin Scorsese's Statement Supporting Kodak's Continued Production Of Film Stock

Joining together as if an Avengers-styled team of super-directors, last week it was reported that Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Judd Apatow, and J.J. Abrams had teamed up  to lobby the major studios to commit to purchasing a set amount of film stock per year from Kodak. This would ensure that the legendary photo company could continue manufacturing film stock, while also ensuring that the format still had a place in the machinery of big studio moviemaking that’s increasingly becoming dominated by digital photography. Now one more voice has entered the fray.

Martin Scorsese has issued a statement in support of Kodak’s decision to continue making film stock, and instead of trying summarize what he said, you can read it in full below:

We have many names for what we do – cinema, movies, motion pictures. And…film. We’re called directors, but more often we’re called filmmakers. Filmmakers. I’m not suggesting that we ignore the obvious: HD isn’t coming, it’s here. The advantages are numerous: the cameras are lighter, it’s much easier to shoot at night, we have many more means at our disposal for altering and perfecting our images. And, the cameras are more affordable: films really can be made now for very little money. Even those of us still shooting on film finish in HD, and our movies are projected in HD. So, we could easily agree that the future is here, that film is cumbersome and imperfect and difficult to transport and prone to wear and decay, and that it’s time to forget the past and say goodbye – really, that could be easily done. Too easily.
It seems like we’re always being reminded that film is, after all, a business. But film is also an art form, and young people who are driven to make films should have access to the tools and materials that were the building blocks of that art form. Would anyone dream of telling young artists to throw away their paints and canvases because iPads are so much easier to carry? Of course not. In the history of motion pictures, only a minuscule percentage of the works comprising our art form was not shot on film. Everything we do in HD is an effort to recreate the look of film. Film, even now, offers a richer visual palette than HD. And, we have to remember that film is still the best and only time-proven way to preserve movies. We have no assurance that digital informaton will last, but we know that film will, if properly stored and cared for.
Our industry – our filmmakers – rallied behind Kodak because we knew that we couldn’t afford to lose them, the way we’ve lost so many other film stocks. This news is a positive step towards preserving film, the art form we love.

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Yep, as long as it’s stored in a special $10,000 refrigerator unit that stays running 24 hours a day for 100 years. ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Rubbish talk, all the Mitchel and webb films were found in a barrel in a derelict building and survived for almost 100 years before they were rescued.

Roy H. Wagner ASC

Digital capture was chosen to break the master contracts with the unions. That’s why it was cheaper. Ask any archivist what technology is easier and cheaper to store. After all the ultimate cost of a film is preserving it.


Film is not the Zoetrope; film is still a viable technology, in use today. It’s also a mature technology, and has some attributes that are still valuable, especially in making skin tones look great. Most big "tentpole" movies like Jurassic World are still shot on film. Film lasts a long time even without any special treatment. Doesn’t everyone have a box of family photos and negatives that are at least twenty or thirty years old, in the back of a closet somewhere? Motion picture negative is almost exactly the same as still film for longevity. Proper refrigerated storage is better than the back of a closet, but your family photos aren’t worth millions of dollars. Can you open 20 or 30 year old computer files? Something on a floppy disk? Punch cards or tape? Didn’t think so. As far as labs go, it’s true that most of the big labs like Technicolor and Deluxe have exited the business. But smaller independent labs like FotoKem are thriving on the remaining smaller volume of work. It’s not like it used to be, when EVERY movie was shot on film, but I’m hoping that enough manufacturing and lab infrastructure remains in place that film cinematography remains a viable production choice for a long time.

Peter Hodgins

Film is dead, pure and simple.


Film is ultimately doomed because Kodak's business model depended on the studios buying 5000 to 10,000 release prints to ship to theaters for each movie made. That's where the profit was for Kodak. As cinemas convert to digital, that revenue stream, which helped subsidize the manufacture and sale of raw stock, is disappearing. Studios buying raw stock alone won't make the business model work.

Also, film labs made their profits on printing thousands of release prints; developing and transferring dailies doesn't generate enough revenue.

This is similar in the amateur market to Kodak making most of their profits in selling photo finishing equipment to small labs to sell prints. When the photo finishing business went away, the whole infrastructure collapsed.


I'm all in for director's wanting to shoot on film (be it 16, 35 og 65 mm) next to digital, naturally!, as long cinemas don't revert to projecting on film on a wider scale (to yet again risk being regularly exposed to crap looking, worn-out 35 mm prints with lousy/lossy sound).


It's great that Kodak is going to continue making film stock, but what about the labs? Anyone working in Hollywood knows they are closing left and right. It's great you can shoot it. But who's going to process all the stock?


"We have no assurance that digital informaton will last, but we know that film will, if properly stored and cared for."

Yep, as long as it's stored in a special $10,000 refrigerator unit that stays running 24 hours a day for 100 years. There's enough resources on the planet to store the tens of millions of film reels that need preserving, right?

Franquelis Diaz

This statement made me tear up. I am not kidding. I am so glad important filmmakers, filmmakers that will be talked about forever because of their impact and importance, are taking a stand and reaching out to Hollywood to preserve the rich and beautiful history that film has had in the industry and the world.


Bring back the zoetrope! Bring back the nickelodeon!! Bring back the kinetoscope!!! Cinematic artists need these tools to create in the 21st century!

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