Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Shooting on Film Again

Perhaps in keeping with the idea that "What's old is new again", it certainly seems that there is a good deal of excitement among film enthusiasts toward shooting on film again. Following the intense hype surrounding Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, shot - and released, albeit in limited engagements - in the 70mm format, Kodak came out with an intriguing announcement, regarding the company's revival of the Super 8 format.

The announcement comes at an interesting time for "analog" formats, given the resurgence in popularity of vinyl records in recent years. As someone who recently began shooting on film again myself (I purchased a 16mm Bolex this past summer), I will be especially interested to see how other filmmakers react to this development, and whether or not the Super 8 format does indeed see a revival as a result.

Ultimately, I think it will come down to a question of what individual filmmakers hope to accomplish by shooting in the format. As a learning tool, it could prove to be highly valuable to a generation of filmmakers trained on digital formats. At the same time, the greater cost and cumbersome nature of the technology may well stymie many of these same filmmakers in their tracks. Shooting on film rewards patience and meticulous attention to detail, qualities that digital tends to work against with its ability to obtain good results with less work (and I say that not to denigrate those artists and craftsmen who approach working on digital with the same care and quality as they would film; but the format does make it easier for the lazy and sloppy to achieve passable results).

Whether or not Kodak's planned revival of Super 8 leads to wider embrace of the format, or whether it remains largely marketing hype, it has certainly sparked some strong interest and contributed to the ongoing discussion about the relative merits of film and digital. The following statement from Steven Spielberg, quoted in Kodak's announcement, sums up my feelings on the subject:
"Paintings done on a computer and paintings done on canvas require an artist to make us feel something. To be the curser or the brush, that is the question and certainly both can produce remarkable results. But doesn't the same hold true for the cinematic arts? Digital or celluloid? Vive la difference! Shouldn't both be made available for an artist to choose?"

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