Apr 7, 2015

"Don't Worry About the End of Film"... I'm not!

In Richard Brody's "Don't Worry About the End of Film", he quotes cinematographer Guillermo Navarro as having said, "We must fight to keep the experience of watching a film that was made on film projected as film alive and available in at least one cinema in every city in every country. We must act quickly to safeguard the future of the film print by supporting cinemas that choose to continue projecting 35mm film prints alongside digital projection". Many independent movie houses found themselves unable to afford the industry mandated cinema conversion. Colonial Theatre in Belfast, Maine, posted a call for donations on their webpage asking for locals to help support their switch from 35mm film projection to digital projection.

"The conversion to digital cinema was inescapable to maintain the Colonial Theatre's ability to bring movies to Belfast. The end of 35mm films in theaters has been steadily drawing near and very soon "films" will be unavailable on film. Theaters world-wide are closing due to this very expensive challenge."
I guess I often take it for granted that I was fortunate to grow up during a time when going to movies to see a film actually meant seeing a film. It's hard to believe that the current generation of moviegoers don't know what film projection looks like. The experience of going to the movies has almost become a monopoly. Moviegoers don't really have a choice of whether or not they would like to see a digital or film projection, and sadly, many of them are not even aware of the switch.

Film Projector at The Roxy Movie Palace
The absence of choice is my main focus and concern. There are indeed aesthetic differences between film and digital video, but that doesn't mean one is better than the other. The fact is, filmmaking has changed. Digital cameras, digital editing systems, and digital effects have opened the door for a new way of filmmaking. Is this wrong? I don't believe it is. So much more is possible and so many stories can be told that, before digital, couldn't be realized on the screen.

At the same time, it's staggering and unfortunate that only 8% of the theaters offer film projection; since they have opted out of switching to digital projection. Where does one go nowadays if they're looking for a true film experience? Personally, I would advocate for a world where film prints and digital projection can fruitfully coexist without the fear of one becoming endangered. But, the tim business is a ruthless one where the majority rules; especially at the box office.

Napoleon at Empire, HollywoodAndAllThat
In the end, "...what matters is not film or video but the idea". In various circles it will be argued one way or another that how a film is made is quintessential to the overall work of art. While issues of medium are important and should not be ignored all together, digital and film projections are something to be appreciated; each in its own right. Fifty years from now, there could be an entirely new way of making films and projecting them, and future generations of cinephiles will find themselves debating the virtue of digital filmmaking and projecting.

In conclusion, the end of film, the end of digital, and the end of what lies ahead is inevitable. But, the stories will continue to be told no matter what.


Brody, Richard. "Don't Worry About the End of Film." The New Yorker 21 Jan. 2014, Movies sec. Web. 5 Apr. 2015. .  

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