Is Film Dead…? Part 2

Last week I posted about the camera tests run by Zacuto that I was asked to comment on, and how from my perspective, and certainly for indie film makers, shooting on film opposed to digital) looks like it has had its day. You can read that post here (and watch the fascinating video). The picture above is from ‘The Runner’ (my first feature), with first AD Lisa Harney, asleep on the track and dolly at 3am in February in a Manchester ghetto doubling for Chicago. I LOVE this photo as it captures film making so perfectly.

Almost the day after my post, Twitter and the blogosphere went crazy with a story that film cameras were no longer being manufactured, thus citing a further nail in the coffin of film. When I heard this news, I was surprised as I kind of assumed film camera manufacturing was ramped down and probably ended half a decade ago.

You see, the one HUGE difference between a film camera and digital camera is that film cameras will probably last 50 years. They are largely mechanical and compared to digital cameras almost completely free of electronic technology. The first feature film I made was shot on a camera that was made ten years before I was born, and I am sure it was used many years after I used it. The electronics consisted of a battery to drive the motor. That was it!

So in practical terms, the fact that film cameras are no longer being made is not that big a deal. I am certain a very healthy industry in expert film camera servicing will flourish for years to come as these cameras continue to shoot cracking movies.

One other thing to consider, camera rental houses that own film cameras have probably paid off their film camera purchases many years ago (unlike hugely expensive digital cameras with short shelf lives). So in real terms, the investment these companies have sunk into this kit has been repaid and the cameras now cost very little to own and operate, just a bit of shelf life and servicing. This means more competitive deals can be haggled by film makers! The same is true of the film manufacturers. So maybe, film isn’t dead at all…?

We live in turbulent and paradoxical times!

What do you think?

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author


3 Responses to Is Film Dead…? Part 2

  1. Raman Morarjee October 20, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Am I right that professional digital filming cameras can facilitate Cinematic imagery?

  2. Mark Morris October 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    I guess it depends on if professional film makers carry on with film. There is no reason why they wouldn’t as film isnt that much of an expense when you take the whole budget into consideration. I bet george Lucas wishes he’d made the latest star wars trilogy on film. I wish he had anyway. Another thing is that as technology improves and who knows what’s round the corner then maybe even better ways of scanning film will be found. Film is also a way to preserve your work and will outlast hard drives.

    Film is a different process and uses light and emulsion and captures reality wheras digital captures a one or a zero. You can tell the difference one is a film look the other is a psuedo film look.

    I think 16mm will become much less used as it is a semi pro format for film makers and is costly compared to digital. In the semi pro or amatuer world, 35mm film is seldom used so no change there anyway.

  3. Michael Blackwood Barnes October 21, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    Birns and Sawyer one of Hollywoods oldest rental houses have just announced they are no longer supporting film rental.

    I sadly think the end is here and now.

Leave a Reply

tumblr statistics