The Grand Budapest Hotel_kodak.com_photo martin scali

39 US releases shot on 35mm film in 2014

Leading and award winning cinematographers consistently choose to shoot on film. “I’m such a believer in film,” says Robert Yeoman, ASC, Wes Anderson’s cinematographer for, among other films, The Grand Budapest Hotel. “I prefer the look and the on-set discipline. I find that when shooting digitally, the camera doesn’t cut, and people’s attention seems to wander. I look around the set and everyone’s on their phones. The process has been polluted. I think film causes people to concentrate on the shot. When the camera is rolling, everyone knows the importance of the moment and is paying attention. This energy is translated onto the film.”

Film on set does not just instill discipline, it can also be a more practical option when locations can’t allow for cables running through digital unfriendly terrain and weather conditions.  John Schwartzman, DP on Dracula Untold explains how “on the location scout, we were standing in the pouring rain, and I said, ‘We need film cameras. We can throw them down on the sandbags in the mud and they work.’ You’re not going to run fiber-optic cable across this field. We can’t have a DIT tent on the hillside in the muck. On a 70-day schedule, it ain’t going to work.”

Whilst once dismissed as too costly, 35mm is often chosen to cut budgets; the cost of digital colour correction, as one example, can outweigh the cost of shooting on film. ” It was actually still cheaper to do a film this big on film” said Darran Aronofsky on filming Noah on celluloid. Boyhood, shot on 35mm over 12 years, kept a uniform look by not going digital before the intermediate stage. Inevitable changes in resolution or quality through advancing digital technologies were not obvious. Digital still, though, needs a few more advances in technology to catch up with the resolution that film can offer. Wally Pfister wonders why digital is being pushed when the technology of film in essence doesn’t need replacing as it is a technology that can still out-perform digital. “To capture all the resolution of an anamorphic 35mm image, you need a scan somewhere between 8K and 12K. So while everyone brags about 4K cameras and scans, we’re shooting on, effectively, a 10K camera. Why replace that with an inferior technology?”

The look of film is what important for many as Oscar Faura, DP of The Imitation Game, explains: “Digital was not an option because we wanted to keep the texture of the negative that has been used for years to shoot most World War II movies. It is something that unconsciously makes [audiences] relate a historic period to a certain kind of image.” But the qualities of film are more complex than just being ‘time accurate’, with many citing its ‘realism’ as a deciding factor. David Ayer sees that ‘Film has more’; Dan Mindel choses the ‘operatic quality’ of film; and Jake Paltrow makes a point that savefilm strongly agree with, ‘I just think it’s a different medium and a different process.’ Or to quote Yeoman again: “I love film,” says Yeoman. “I fight for it on every movie.”

2015 will continue the trend of shooting films on film. Blockbusters orginating on 35mm include Jurassic World, SPECTRE, Cinderella and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Full article about The Grand Budpest Hotel and Robert Yeoman

Full article about cinematographers using film


Image: Robert Yeoman, ASC on set of The Grand Budapest Hotel (Photo By Martin Scali) /