Digital media technologies changing the film business

DV cameras and new avenues for video distribution — web and DVD — have ignited a revolution in independent filmmaking in the same way that PageMaker and the laser printer did in publishing. Jason Kliot says this in a Wired story:

We made Chuck and Buck for a half a million dollars. If we had shot it on 35-mm film it would have cost $1.4 million. We sold it for $1.1 million — a really good profit. But if we had shot on film we would have lost money.

Power to the people, man (and hopefully a little money, too). But it’s not just the independent filmmaker that’s realizing the benefits of digital media.

I was shooting on Spy Kids, and I had a film camera, and I brought the HD camera, and side by side, printed them both out to film — this isn’t even HD projected digitally, which is far superior; this is HD transferred to film — so I could see where HD fell apart, where it still needed to be fixed, where it was like video. Instead, I was shocked to see how bad the film was. People’s faces cratered in with contrast, and extra stuff that I was noticing anyway over the years, getting worse and worse. And I was like, “Oh my god, that’s like Super-8! That’s film?” And I would show it at film festivals. It would be like an audience of 300 people, and I would say, “In the next couple minutes, everyone here’s gonna be convinced: Film is dead, and HD is the future of film.” I’d show these tests and hear the gasps. They couldn’t believe it. I’ve abandoned film forever. You can’t go back.

The revolution isn’t just about replacing film (which will be considered quaint by 2007), either. Once the world has some perspective on it, Spy Kids 2 will be seen as a movie that changed the movie-making workflow. Robert Rodriguez says this about his experience making that movie:

…once you abandon needing film, you question everything. You question the whole process, like “Why are we doing this like that? Couldn’t we do the whole sound mix in my garage?” And we did. We did the whole sound mix of the movie in my garage, we mixed it all there. I edited it in my garage, shot at home, made it much more a home movie…

Cool! | Wired story | Interview with Robert Rodriguez