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16mm Filming September 2019

People often say that audiences don't care about the technology that is used to make films, but I believe that there is an expectation that a film should look like a film and when we watch a film that has been originated on analogue film we see things in a different and a better way, there's a iinteresting emotional connection with the images, whether it's their colour, grain, texture or all of these factors, I know that we can't always explain this feeling of watching a film that has been shot on film. I am always encouraging young filmmakers to use 16mm film and make the case that we should use film while we can. A few years ago using 16mm film became very cheap, it's still not that expensive [though at first glance it is much more expensive than digital]. Professional 16mm cameras are getting expensive, about a year ago a good Aaton XTR camera packaged struggled to sell for $1000, but in the last few months the same Aaton XTR camera package sold for $18,000 - quite a difference suggesting that there is renewed professional interest in 16mm. For many young people the questions still are why should they and that film is far too expensive, the digital tidal wave is strong, but I strongly feel that as filmmakers we need to reach our audiences and should strive to be unique.

There are so many different choices for 16mm cameras and film stock [as discussed on the other pages], we can go to the top end and get the much sought after Arrri 416, buy some fresh film direct from a Kodak reseller and start shooting. We must remember that most professional cameras like the 416 will use PL mount lenses, while good these are expensive. Well, if we don't want to spend much we could use a simpler or older 16mm camera. With film most of the magic is created by the film stock and lenses, obviously the camera has to work well, this is where I have had luck using old amateur cameras from the 1950's with fresh film stock and new lenses. I believe that one should use film, it is worth the hassle, the fixes and workarounds to get that beautiful, timeless cinematic film look. I have always been interested in using older technology instead of simply disposing of them. It's pretty easy to use get an old vintage 16mm camera today at a cheap price and to use it with new lenses and new film stock. I have done this many times and when the camera's cleaned and working well I get amazing results.

 

The Age Old Question - Is 16mm Relavant? September 2019

Short answer is yes it's relevant as it gives your work a unique and distint look, it's not that expensive either. In reality it's complicated, some say it all depends how much you shoot, if you're shooting a lot then 16mm can work out cheaper, but if you plan to shoot the odd roll here and there then it can be expensive, but this isn't always true as I have shot single rolls off 100ft and have paid very little. A factory sealed 100ft of 16mm is around 45.00 and a 400ft roll is about 100.00, for processing it is around 15 pence per foot and scanning is another 15 pence per foot a total of £120.00 for 400ft of film. In reality it is possible to get 16mm film cheaper, through re-cans or from other filmmakers who've just finished a shoot, I have often got fresh stock this way and paid around 50.00 for a 400ft roll. I often use the a-cam and it takes 100ft daylight spools, it is quite easy to split the 400ft roll onto the small 100ft daylight spools. I have always managed to get fresh stock in 100ft daylight spools for 14.00, 100ft of 16mm gives you 2.5 minutes the same running time as one Super 8 cartridge. If you can get 16mm stock cheaply then 16mm definitely works out slightly cheaper as for each 100ft stock, processing and scanning can be around 45.00, while many are reluctant to do their own processing many are comfortable digitizing their films, thus bringing the costs down further. The problem for some is that with 16mm the equipment is bigger, it's more expensive, lenses can cost quite a bit too and then there's minimum charges from labs for processing and scanning. All in all 16mm can be more complicated but the results are spectacular.

A note about 16mm Magazine Cameras September 2019

In the past I have not taken 16mm magazine cameras seriously at all, always encouraging people to stay away from them, but I have changed my mind and am using these little cameras quite a lot. Once you've got your 50ft of film loaded in the cartridges, which are called magazines, it's just so simple. I am in the process of writing a section on this website about this system.

 

The two questions that I regularly get asked are;

1. In this day and age why do some filmmakers choose to use film [celluloid] to shoot their projects and not digital?

2. If everything is

The two questions that I regularly get asked are;

1. In this day and age why do some filmmakers choose to use film [celluloid] to shoot their projects and not digital?

2. If everything is going to be finished digitally, then why shoot film in the first place?

Both questions are related but are not easy to answer, the second question assumes that 'everything' filmed is being finished digitally, which isn't quite true as there are still many who finish their films photo-chemically and project them using analogue projectors, though digital finish has become the norm since the 1990's even when the film has been originated on film [celluloid]. So the question remains why shoot on film [celluloid]? The answer is complicated and not always easily explainable, many have tried to give structured responses, some are emotional, while some are practical, some say they use it because of the look of film, its aesthetics and claim films rich colours, textures and warmth all adding to an organic feel, whereas digital often gives a harsh soulless feel, others talk about nostalgia of film citing its archival properties, then there are those who perplex us with technical talk of films wider latitude over digital.

The simple thing is film is available and in many ways it's is much easier to work with and in many cases cheaper too. I know many will be thinking that film isn't cheap, no one really advocates film as being cheap, we always hear that it's expensive, well it isn't cheap; especially if we do a side by side comparison, film is expensive. So what do I mean when I say film can be cheap? Well in film and television productions the media used whether it is film or digital is only a small fraction of the total budget, the biggest cost is labour, not only talent in front of the camera but talent behind the camera. In an industry where people are usually paid by the day filmmakers need to be quick and well shooting on film allows that, working on film means a fast shoot [therefore cheaper], whereas digital shoots take longer and therefore cost more. In post production film is quicker too; film just looks good straight after processing even with a simple scan and without complex wizardry, whereas with digital a colourist has to spend [costly] hours making digital footage look good.

Writngs and thoughts on 'film'

I really love it and get very excited when younger filmmakers choose to use film for their projects, but I am not sure how I feel when people say they have chosen to use film to pay 'homage' to old school filmmaking, to me this suggests that 'film' / celluloid is no longer relevant for modern filmmaking. It's true that 'film' is not relevant for many of today's young filmmakers who are fed with incorrect information that everything is digital and many are becoming detached from seeing the whole picture.

Many say that film in the digital age is an aesthetic choice; personally I disagree with this view as I find film is more practical, economical and more affordable.. Unless given for free a RED or an Alexa camera Package, this includes the basic camera, cables and accessories, lenses and batterries will cost far more than renting a modern Super 16 camera package. The shooting time will increase and there will most certainly be more footage to edit and the xtra time is extra money. I choose to use film for many reasons;

1) Film gives you that authentic film look effortlessly

2) There's a certain way you work when shooting film, you are more decisive and more certain

3) High end digital systems are expensive to rent, whereas film cameras are very cheap, film can be expensive but it depends on your shooting ratio

4) Most of the time digital shoots take longer and therefore are most costly, especially in narrative film-making

5) With film you spend less time in the edit or with computers trying to 'fix' the images, digital images need a lot more work in post

On this page I will be putting together my creative writing, the stories that I have published and am currently writing.

 

 

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