You may or may not know, but there is a war being waged at this very moment. The two sides, battling over the future of filmmaking, arguing which is better: film or digital.
There’s been a whole heap of articles written for each argument, but recently, Karim Hussain, the director of photography for HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN and the upcoming film, ANTIVIRAL (playing at this year’s Cannes Film Festival), had this to say…
Here’s the LA weekly article on the death of film and Christopher Nolan’s plea to preserve 35mm (http://www.laweekly.com/2012-04-12/film-tv/35-mm-film-digital-Hollywood/). I’d happily agree with him, if it wasn’t for the fact that labs and cinemas have been letting their 35mm / 16mm processing, dailies transferring and printing go to shit, laying off staff and ultimately screwing the filmmakers with countless headaches and worries due to sub-standard quality.
When you have an inexperienced kid transfer your rushes and you get a different looking film on set every day, or the lab snaps your negative in their developer, ruining tons of work, digital starts to look good. When your 35mm print is projected in a shitty green print on bad stock the film wasn’t even graded for, it’s out of focus, covered in dirt and scratches, shaking all over the screen, with the bulb turned down so hard to save money that the screen is just a murky smear, the sound is analog 4.0 and super-low because the cinema chain got in a fight with Dolby, good digital projection starts to smell pretty nice. If cinemas maintained their film projectors and technical presentations, then people would see how beautiful 35mm looks and sounds.
These days, they’re more likely to see a blurry mess and barely hear it if it’s an indie without DTS tracks. And in North America, DCP projection is following suit, darkening their bulbs to save on the even more expensive costs of digital bulb replacement. They are literally driving people from the cinemas by giving us horrible presentations. VOD is looking pretty sweet when you pay 13 bucks for a ticket, then can barely see what’s going on and people around you flood the cinema with light from their texting!
The best remaining lab technicians in the world (there are not so many left) will bend over backwards to ensure Christopher Nolan’s multi-multi-multi million dollar photochemical answer prints will look good and be well projected when he’s in the room. But he is the 1% of filmmakers.
The reality is, after the romance of film that I happily subscribe to, independent movies shot on film don’t get the same treatment as the big boys, and after all the headaches, the Arri Alexa starts to look pretty damn sweet. Plus it’s an amazing camera that frees you up in so many brilliant ways that were never before possible…
Filmmakers have been driven to digital for more reasons than just economy and after using the Alexa on a couple films, I’ll happily drink the Kool-Aid. I’m a much happier person because of it!
Me personally, I love digital (of course I do, I wouldn’t have just had you read that if I didn’t). I worked at a movie theatre for three years, where I saw countless films given a terrible presentation simply because the minimum-wage employed projectionist really didn’t give enough of a shit to adjust the film properly.
There’s plenty of other reasons for why I welcome the digital age with wide open arms, a lot of which Karim mentioned above, but what do you think? Any diehard film lovers out there, not willing to let go?