What happened “After the Kodak Moment”?


A Weekend Blog About Indy Cinema Technology on the BSFF website.

Film Is Dead, Long Live Filmmaking!

What once was will never be again.  The wonderful organic motion picture film images that have existed for over a century have been mostly replaced by 0’s and 1’s.  Our visual world is getting more and more digital.

In this new reality Kodak is attempting to stay alive in a future beyond film. Watch this 5 minute documentary from the New York Times' film makers Colin Archdeacon and John Woo: 

(And my thoughts on what this all means to a small film festival in Borrego Springs, CA follow)  

So, how have we, film makers and movie-goers on the independent movie scene, adapted to the digital era?  

Well, let’s consider it in 2015.

This springtime is when the electronic camera companies like Sony, Panasonic, Canon, etc. show off all their new toys at hugely popular trade shows. The one thing that’s readily apparent:  consumer cameras continue to improve their image quality and their affordability.  For instance, on my shelf here at home are 5 consumer cameras that far exceed the image quality technology Orson Wells had.  And purchasing 5 more of these cameras would still cost less than what Mr. Wells spent to buy one week of film stock.

Now, that’s not to say a Citizen Kane is going to spring forth from my brain, but there are more creative brains in the world than mine.  And because of the digital revolution, suddenly almost everybody has access great imaging devices.  If they don't they will soon, even if they're not actively searching it out to acquire it!  It will come with their phone, watch, eyeglasses, pocket drone, or whatever.

The bottom line is that if someone wants to make a movie these days, it’s much much easier to grab a camera and do so.  

The last film my wife and I made we used a $400 digital camera with a cheap lens from a 1983 Pentax instamatic camera.  The images it shot were wonderful.  We took our simple sentimental idea about how love affects memory and built a short little movie out of it.  Believe me, that sort of endeavor would be much more challenging financially and technically 10 years ago.  But these days the opportunity to make it happen is much easier.    

Now, will movies as such ultimately be worth anything?  Of course!  The art of cinema is the same as any artistic endeavor.  It’s the art of personal expression.  

Somewhere right now a young director is mulling a great idea and is going to pick up their iPhone and make it happen.  That’s an idea that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.  Sure, maybe their technical skill won’t match the technology, but learning to match movie making craft with great ideas is the wonderful alchemy of film.  Those that really want to make their ideas happen will do so, one way or another.  

The technology barrier to expressing one’s self through motion pictures is disappearing rapidly, if not gone already.  Like Kodak’s film, it’s fading into the past.  And when these new exciting filmmakers send their work to the BSFF, we have the opportunity to view the best and brightest and then screen them at the 2016 festival for you.

So, RIP “film,” can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

- Matt N.