Film is dead. Despite a few notable holdouts such as Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan and some budding young filmmakers who like the aesthetic, digital filming has pretty much supplanted film stock in usage on motion picture and TV production.
In fact, and despite the 70mm rollout for “The Hateful Eight,” don’t expect film to make a comeback says Oscar-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins. Deakins, considered one of the world’s best directors of photography for movies working today, made the jump to digital years ago and the results have been some stunning looking films such as “Skyfall,” “Sicario” and “Prisoners”.
Speaking with Variety, he was asked about the divide and says “just the technical problems with film, I’m sorry, it’s over”. Deakins is also a long time collaborator with the Coen brothers who have always shot on film, revealed that the Coens were actually debating about going digital for “Hail, Caesar!” and that by shooting it on film the production ran into all sorts of problems because the infrastructure that used to support filming that way is now gone:
“Apparently Ethan at some point was talking about shooting the next film digitally. And then it turned around. They’re really debating it. I was in Albuquerque shooting ‘Sicario’ and they were talking about it and they said, ‘I don’t know how you feel about it, but I think we want to go on film.’ And I said, you know, ‘I don’t mind. I’ll shoot it on a cell phone if you like. I don’t mind. I really don’t’.
Film stocks today are nothing like the film stocks they shot with back then. Do you know what I mean? So you can’t make a choice. You can’t even process differently these days. You don’t have that option. You’re pretty restricted with what you can do with film these days. So I mean there’s now many stocks now? Four or five? Your choices are very limited. But as I say, that was fine. I wasn’t going to do much in terms of the way it was processed, so I probably wouldn’t have gone that way even if I had the choice.
We did have some problems. We had some stock issues and stuff like that, which was really disconcerting. And I’ve heard that’s happened to a lot of people lately, you know, stock and lab problems. That’s unnerving. I mean I never really remember having those kind of problems before. But it makes me nervous now. I don’t want to do that again, frankly. I don’t think the infrastructure’s there. “
“Hail, Caesar!,” which could be the last Coen brothers film shot on film, opens on February 5th.