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Joel Coen, Martin Scorsese, Darren Aronofsky and More on Digital vs. Film

Joel Coen, Martin Scorsese, Darren Aronofsky and More on Digital vs. Film

“If [film] dies, something is going to be lost.”

“I think it would be incredible if both options stayed alive for as long as possible. Chris [Nolan] called me when there was a campaign to help Kodak and I did what I could with the relationships that I have because I think it’s a great art form and, if it dies, something is going to be lost. It’s not a pure replacement. I really took advantage of film on ‘The Wrestler’ and ‘Black Swan,’ which were both shot in 16mm film for the aesthetic of the grain. If you look at Matty’s (cinematographer Matthew Libatique) work on ‘Noah,’ we really worked with what the film stock could do for us. I think the art form changes and the story changes as the media changes.”
Darren Aronofsky (“Noah”)

READ MORE: Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan and Judd Apatow Lead the Charge to Keep Film Stock Alive

“There is something that looks different in movies that are shot on film.”

“[‘Inside Llewyn Davis’] was shot on film for a number of reasons, retrospectively. But I am glad that we shot it on film, and you know, it’s all like a hybrid thing now, because you shoot it on film but it all goes into a box and all goes into a computer and gets heavily manipulated. Still, there is something that looks different in movies that are shot on film… But that’s what’s happening, so it’s probable that we’ll shoot something digitally.”
Joel Coen (“Inside Llewyn Davis”)

“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.”
Martin Scorsese

“There is still something inherently magical about shooting on film.”

“And to some degree, it’s mysterious and you get to be the wizard behind the curtain that makes everything happen, which I kind of love. But also, with digital photography, you’ve eliminated some of the things that could become problematic, both photochemically and technically in labs with scratches and all kinds of mysterious things that can arise. There’s not many surprises with digital, but there’s more risks you can take. You certainly sleep better at night because you don’t have to wake up at 4am and call the lab to see if there’s still a job for you to do that day. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less work, you still have to put the lights in the right places and you still have to make good choices and fight continuity along scenes.”
Jeff Cronenweth, DP (“Gone Girl”)

“There’s a lack of demand [for film.]”

“There are a lot of people who would like to continue to shoot on film. It’s not a problem of someone manufacturing it. There’s lack of demand and there are just two labs left in L.A. It becomes very expensive to ship and process. I think we’re seeing the end of it.”
Phedon Papamichael, DP (“Nebraska”)

“The decision about digital or film is going to be made for us.”

“I think the answer is that film is gonna be gone. Although I think it’ll make a comeback; it’ll be like vinyl records or something.”
James Gray (“The Immigrant)

“I always suggest film, and it is almost always shot down.”

“I’m sad that I became a DP right around the time when film was on its way out. Fortunately I was able to shoot 20-plus short projects on film while studying at UCLA. This really helped me cut my teeth, particularly with lighting. I have also shot a handful of professional projects on the medium as well. I always suggest film, and it is almost always shot down. I think I will make a habit of continuing to suggest it and see what happens. It truly does make a lot of sense for some projects, just as digital makes sense for others.”
– Topher Osborm, DP (“Dear White People”)

“We’re going to carry on cutting on film.”

“We not only shot [‘Jimmy’s Hall’] on film, we cut on film. It’s very good because it’s not as quick as digital [cutting], so you consider what you do more carefully. It’s a much more human way of working. The film industry is like any other — it’s about speed and cutting the people involved in doing the job. We’re going to carry on cutting on film.”
Ken Loach (“Jimmy’s Hall”)

“I feel like it’s not a question of film or digital, but for me it’s like, ‘Let’s make films. We don’t have to shoot films on film to make them films.'”

 – Bobby Bukowski, DP (“Infinitely Polar Bear”)

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

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David Kersul

For those of us who realize the ethereal that is in film,the only thing to do is create films and film festivals so that is not lost. There are many of us who know this and then perhaps the need to satisfy that part of ourselves will arise again.

Spank Rawkins

If your production can’t afford to shoot on film it’s because your production sucks.

Ever since shooting digitally became mainstream the quality of productions has degenerated. Just because ‘anybody’ can shoot a movie nowadays doesn’t mean that they should. 95% of what’s coming out is derivative crap, and the reason is because filmmaking has become totally pedestrian. Shooting digitally has its perks, but film is still the superior medium, both aesthetically and economically.


D, you’re absolutely right. I’m a veteran studio colorist and this argument is really about elitism. It’s the story to all these guys, and they would all pick up digital cameras if they were starting today. The costs of shooting film, the shorter takes required on set, the need for dailies, the need for dirt and scratch removal. It’s not even close. . . And the Sony F65 is absolutely stunning, almost film like, and the low light pick up of digital sensors, blows away any film stock. Plus the size of the digital cameras allows many more placement options at lower cost.


Fussing over film vs. silicon is like fussing over whether Leonardo painted on oak or linen. It’s a distraction from the existential problems facing filmmakers. Just make a f*cking movie.


D, full disclosure is that I’m an independent filmmaker who has had budgets from $500 to $12000 (mostly somewhere inbetween) but who has shot on film as well as digitally and who has had films screened in festivals around the world. So I’m definitely not devaluing that level of filmmaking. The point I was trying to make is that there is a level of filmmaking between the super low-budget indies and the ‘golden goose’ established filmmakers where shooting on film- 16mm if not 35- is an entirely feasible option.


Buddy that the difference on how we see things I don’t dismissed a film just because it doesn’t get shown in theaters or made for a couple of thousand dollars, I’ve seen films with budgets of a over a 100 million that was sh!!t, I’ve seen film shot for a couple of thousand that was great that never went to the theater,for me it’s about telling the story you want to tell, Buddy you talking about class, the simple fact you brought up theater tells me where you are standing and talking baout distribution, so it’s not a success for a guy or girl that shot a film for $2000 and made $5000 on vod and dvd and more importantly told the story they wanted to tell.


D, I didn’t miss your point at all, I said that shooting on a DSLR is cheaper than film. But let’s face it, these ‘real indie productions, the ones made for a couple of thousand dollars’, aren’t getting into theatres or any significant kind of distribution. So there’s the vast field between that level and these ‘golden goose’ bigwigs who are championing 35mm (and these days 65mm). In this field, the indie productions that are actually getting seen by people, shooting on film can be as cheap or cheaper than using professional grade digital cameras.


Hey buddy, you missed my point I’m talking about real indie productions, the ones made for a couple of thousand dollars, those same productions would cost you at least $7000 to $10,000 to shoot on film and this doing a lot of one or two takes. That same filmmaker can do a film for $1500 to $2000 and get as many takes as he wants and don’t have to go to the poor house, Again buddy I’m talking about the indie filmmakers shooting on dlsr cameras and editing their films on their own pc. Those are the filmmakers I’m talking about it, not the ones that got a $100,000 and up to make a movie, to them it would be a big difference. This goes back to my point the people that are championing film are people with money because nobody that doesn’t have a golden goose is going to shoot on film, it’s doesn’t make sense figuratively and literary, that’s just the reality.


Except, D, that the costs of shooting on film vs digital have been greatly misrepresented. Sure, it’s cheaper to shoot with a DSLR than on film, but I did a budget for a feature comparing 16mm vs using a RED or an Alexa, and the former was a fair bit cheaper due to the high rental rates for those digital cameras and the storage and editing costs associated with processing RAW footage. I’ve seen cost comparisons even between 35mm and high end digital shoots and they end up pretty close.


These guys talking about film vs digital argument need to go somewhere, it don’t hold up, digital gave filmmaker more resources and even the playing field, I will take a little bit of a lesser look that most people want notice than film because a lot of filmmakers got shut out because of the cost of film. You can do a movie now and don’t have to go into the pour house trying to make it. Trust if any of these guys that love film so much where just starting you better believe they would be shooting on digital, they can say this now that they cashed out.


99% of audiences don’t care. Most will never notice. Nolan is trying to raise awareness with his Interstellar campaign but I feel it will fall on deaf ears overall.

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