CANNES 99: DV or Not DV - Cannes Goes Digital
by Anthony Kaufman
Ironically, just a few hours after the American Directors Press Conference, Lance Weiler and Stephen Avalos digitally projected their DV feature "The Last Broadcast" in a theater a mere 10-minute walk away from the Variety pavilion. A panel entitled Shooting for the Digital Age collected a standing room only crowd where Jean-Marc Barr ("Lovers"), Gerard de Battista (AFC), Milan Krsljanin (Sony BPE) and Patrick Leplat (Panasonic) discussed the actual complexities of shooting digital; and Next Waves Films' Peter Broderick brought his traveling Revolution in Filmmaking show to the French Riviera, preaching the ways of Digital Video.
Broderick's two-hour plus conference drew in an international crowd of digital filmmakers (among them a producer/director from Lars von Trier's Zentropa Films and David Smith, the director of the DV feature "Starry Nights"), technicians (sitting in the crowd was one rep from Zurich post-house Swiss Effects) and those wanting to get the inside scoop on all the digital hullabaloo.
New additions to Broderick's lecture (which he brought to Sundance '99) included the world premiere of Eric Rohmer's 17-minute short "Cambrure," shot on a DV-cam, a $5,000 camera of slightly higher quality than mini-DV, according to Broderick. "I think it's great that at 77, Eric's gone DV," he said, claiming that the veteran French New Waver's short effort was in preparation for a digital feature. Other new clips showcased: the Radiohead documentary, "Meeting People is Easy"; "The Humiliated" about the making of von Trier's "The Idiots" which Broderick showed both in DV and in 35mm; German filmmaker Eoin Moore's fiction feature, "Plus Minus Nul" ("Break Even") which played at Rotterdam; Francois Ede's doc "Mouchitine," on an Algerian-born boxer; and Cannes Market submission, "Starry Nights" directed by Edinburgh Smith, about Vincent Van Gogh's return to the present. "Starry Nights" was produced for $3 million and shot on Digital Betacam.
At the end of the talk, Broderick summed up with three points, signaling a promising future for digital filmmaking: One, New cameras (ranging from $3000 to over $100,000 -- for the new HDTV cameras) Two, The availability of desktop computers and software to edit movies and do post-production at home; and 3, The continued improvement of transfers from video to film from companies like Swiss Effects, Hocus Pocus in Copenhagen, and the Sony Hi-Def center in Culver City. Broderick said that all the companies were doing "terrific work," and estimated that prices would come down with more competition among more labs. With the coming of digital projection, Broderick envisioned a time where features for as little as a few thousand dollars could be shown electronically, and then go onto to "find the money to make prints and achieve theatrical distribution."
Commenting about the international DV wave to come, Broderick told indieWIRE, "The interest is very high all around the world and in some ways, there is more information in the United States about shooting features on digital video, but when filmmakers in France, Germany and England learn about it, I think there's going to be an equal amount of interest and enthusiasm. In another three months, they'll be 6 or 7 major features by established filmmakers in [DV]."
"This is the difference between waiting, hoping that some day the financing will show up - and making the film now with creative control. There's that line, 'No more excuses.' and I think it's just time for filmmakers to make movies and use whatever means possible -- the fact they can own the means of production and post-production is really a huge difference."