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The Art of Motion Pictures: Film vs. Digital

Does It Have To Be A Fight?

Ellar Coltrane as 'Mason' and Ethan Hawk as 'Dad' in Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" - shot on film

Discussions buzz around the film industry all the time about film verses digital; the future is digital, film is dead, budgets, time, the look, the feel, which is better, etc. Everyone seems to have a valid point to support his or her argument, and they can get heated. But why does it have to be a fight?

There are creatives that are avid fans of film, and those that tend to side with digital as the present and future of filmmaking. It’s true that there are great advancements in the technology, but the art should always prevail. If the decision is based on budgets or time instead of the vision, then the art suffers. If the art suffers, then we all do.

Why do people keep saying that film is dead when so many great films are still being shot on, well…film? Let’s take a look at the last five-six years of Oscar®, Golden Globe and Spirit Award nominees and winners; four out of the five last Oscar wins were on film. If you look at the grid below you can see the majority of winners, across the board, have been shot on film.

Award Show Recap Grid.xlsx

Does the way a motion picture is shot influence a win? Possibly, possibly not. But what I do believe is that a filmmaker should have a choice on how he or she would like to bring their story to life; whether it be shot on 35mm, 16mm or the latest digital camera and post process – or a combination or both film and digital.

As long as filmmaking continues to be an art form, the creatives should be able to choose what they think will best present their vision. Let’s hope that Fuji and Kodak keep manufacturing film, let’s hope that there are facilities that will process it, and let’s keep looking forward to the latest digital technology so that the filmmaker will always have a choice in how they present their vision to the world.

Long live film, long live digital, long live creative choices!