Goodbye, film.

I love film.  I don’t mean movies, I mean the actual celluloid.  It’s magical.  I love the look of it projected on a screen, the way it picks up dirt and imperfections the more you watch it.  I love the feel of it when you’re loading a camera or when you’re loading a Steenbeck or a movieola.  I love how you wear white gloves when handling it, how your trim bin is actually a trim bin, how dissolves and optical effects are handled either in camera or with a wax pencil.  I love mag.  I love how when you get them going in the editing room the flatbed table becomes like a writhing beast.

Sadly, I just saw a Bolex 8mm camera with three c-mount lenses on sale on Amazon for $195.  What a sad way to go.

I know Bolex is still in business and I hope to return there some day to buy a new camera, but for now I’m filmless.  I sold my two Bolexes (an EBM and a Rex-1) some time ago to pay for a film I was making.  On video.  The saddest thing is I didn’t sell them back in 2000 or 2001 when I would have gotten something like what I paid for them.

I understand that even in the nations most vaunted film schools there is little attention paid to film nowadays.  At my alama mater you can actually get through four years without touching the stuff.   It’s not that I think people should yoke themselves to outdated technology, it’s that I know film teaches differently than video.

When you shoot film, you don’t have a lot of media to play with as it’s expensive to buy, to develop and to print.  So you plan out every shot and work the camera and lights meticulously.  When you’re editing, each choice is a big one because unless you had two prints made for editing, you don’t have the option of changing your mind very much.  If you’re planning on going to a negative cutter you have another thing to worry about as well: hot splicing.  When you hand your film over to a negative cutter, they match the edge code on the film you used to make the edited film with the negative, picking out the clips you used and melting them together by using a half frame on either end of the clip to do so.  Naturally this means that if you cut a bit of film from one section and use it and then pick up straight away after the cut, then your film will fall one frame out of sync at that point.  This will repeat every time you make that mistake, until you finally have nothing, just a completely out of sync garble rendered unfixable because you already destroyed the negatives.

Film has a lot of lessons to teach and I think it’s a sham that any film school can call itself such while not teaching with its namesake.


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