by Miranda Tuttle
A decreasing number of Hollywood productions are now shot on real physical film. With the recent jump in digital developments, many filmmakers and studios support the advantages of handling digital film. Even with the pros of digital, no filmmaker can deny that there is something inexplicably magical about film. Quentin Tarantino’s new movie, The Hateful Eight is an endeavor to bring classic film back to the big screen.
The Hateful Eight is not only shot in 70mm, but in Ultra Panavision, a super-wide format that only 10 other films have used — most of which are 1960s classics. 70 mm is normally used to shoot landscape, but Tarantino sticks a camera in a small log cabin and focuses on close ups of the actors. To give a comparison to how unique it is, most movies are created with 35mm film.
In reality, digital makes post production easier, it costs less, time effective, and is easier to store and archive. Digital film has helped movie making- a timely and costly business. Film is usually too costly for a studio to authorize. Film carries several disadvantages. It is impossible to reuse. That means a day of shooting must produce footage, or else every resource used that day was a waste. The costs of film don’t end the day of shooting either. Developing the film and editing the film is more costly than digital. The image of film being synonymous with the large canisters is a stereotype for a reason. It’s storage is something to consider when film making. Digital allows production companies to complete their shoot schedules with less storage, and less chance to accidentally lose the film canisters.
Given that digital is better for the studios to provide and pay for, why did filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan decided to fight for film, and the right to maintain Kodak’s production of film stock? What’s so special about 35mm film? Film captures natural details more, giving sharper and softer textures. According to Tarantino, digital filmmaking is qualified for “TV only” and it’s “the death of cinema”. Tarantino may have a very passionate nostalgia for classic cinema, but directors who prefer digital are not all opposed to film.
J.J. Abrams is also a fan of digital filmmaking, “I’m actually a huge fan of digital as well.” Says Abrams, “I appreciate how that technology opens the doors for filmmakers who never had access to that level of quality before. However, I do think film itself sets the standard for quality…there’s something about film that is undeniably beautiful, undeniably organic and natural and real.”
Movies such as, “Star Wars The Force Awakens”, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, “Mission Impossible”, few other movies are shot on a wide variety of film. The fight for maintaining this lost art form is getting harder to obtain. Paramount Pictures was the first studio to announce that they would no longer release 35mm prints of movies in the United States.
Tim Sarnoff a digital producer, elaborates, “You have to be very pragmatic in this business – move with the times and provide what your clients need,” he says. “There isn’t much room for emotion.” And yet he loves film. “There’s a quality to film that is organic. The texture of film is perfectly random. It’s hard to get that same randomness in a digital form. It’s too perfect.”
Though digital film seems to be the way of the future, no one can deny there will always be a place for the magical and beautiful quality that comes with shooting on film, which is sadly a dying art form.