Cert: 15 Runtime: 99 mins Director: Christopher Kenneally Cast: Keanau Reeves, Danny, Boyle, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Robert Rodriguez, George Lucas, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan and James Cameron
Can film survive our digital future?
Being a film critic I am not a pro at film making, when I heard about Side By Side I was intrigued to learn a bit more about the change from film to digital. It is a big change in cinema, but now more films can be made due to the leaps and bounds of digital cinema. This film investigates the history, process and workflow of both digital and photochemical film creation. It shows what artists and film makers have been able to accomplish with both film and digital and how their needs and innovations have helped push film making in new directions. Interviews with directors, cinematographers, colorists, scientists, engineers and artists reveal their experiences and feelings about working with film and digital. Where we are now, how we got here and what the future may bring.I was immediately interested in this film when I saw the trailer awhile back and now that I finally got the chance to see it, I can safely say that this film takes an objective view from those who use the tools at the film versus digital debate. Keanue Reeves (who knew right?) asks film makers such as George Lucas, James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher and Steven Soderberg, among others, about their views on film and digital. As well as those who are responsible for the look of the film, the cinematographers. The film seems to have the film makers take sides with which format they would like to use. You have obvious advocates of digital film making from George Lucas, who after shooting Attack of the Clones on digital said he will never shoot film again, and James Cameron, who is always pushing the boundaries of technology. Then on the flip side you have those who love the purity of film, such as Christopher Nolan, who even goes a step beyond 35 mm film and digital and shoots parts of his films on IMAX and his trusted cinematographer Wally Pfister. Both sides put up great arguments for and against the medium, but I think the answer here isn’t one or the other, its what medium best serves the story. It’s interesting hearing the process of making a movie on film versus digital and how it affects every aspect of the production line.
Some people love the speedy and constant shooting of digital, Fincher does take after take after take. Shooting on digital gives him the ease of this, much to the disdain of some actors, like Robert Downey Jr who need the luxury of a rest between takes. A luxury that shooting on traditional film is able to give those actors and the crew time to readjust. Is the endless availability of footage a good thing or a bad thing? When you hear film going through that camera, you hear money ticking away, so everyone has to be on their A-game, you have to work as if every shot must count. Digital would give you a more relaxed environment, maybe too relaxed? This film looks at those sides of the arguments, presents them to the viewer from the director from their own experience. It’s interesting to see how someone has used one format, but then quickly changes and adopts the other, people like Robert Rodriguez who jumped ship after Kucas did Clones, with Once Upon A Time In Mexico. This gave him the ability to shoot Sin City, a feat that he claims would not be possible on film. What this film did lack though, was enough in the corner of film. It felt like it was Nolan and Pfister on their own with Scorsese kind of jumping back and forth. The film needed the voice of Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson and Steven Spielberg to give film the “star power” that it needed, cause it seemed to get beat up by Lucas, Cameron and even David Lynch of all people. Side By Side is a fascinating look inside the world of film making a brief history and a glimpse into the future. Is digital on par with film? People would argue yes, many would say no. Lucas is making the point that film is as good as it is ever going to be, so why not try to push digital beyond that. Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit was shot at 48 frames to give it a better look and people hated it. So what’s the answer here? Trust something we’ve used for the past hundred years? Or look and push for something new? Like I said earlier, these two format need to be available to everyone. Film cannot die, the more tools available to us, the better the film will be.