Keanu Reeves and Tribeca Doc 'Side by Side' Asks: Digital vs. Film, Which Side Are You On?
Digital vs film. It’s the debate of our generation of filmmakers, and one we’ve all heard before. Some rave about the advances in digital technology and the convenience factor. Some lament the non-organic look of digital, or the fact that the on-set workflow has changed from artistry to assembly. There are merits to both of these arguments, and in the new documentary Side by Side from Producer (yes, Producer) Keanu Reeves, these arguments are explored and commented on. Click through for a great trailer featuring some of your favorite filmmakers (Scorsese, Lynch, Rodriguez, Nolan) weighing in on the debate.
So am I the only person that watched that trailer twice in a row? If the final film is anything like the trailer, it will be very intriguing and educational for everyone who calls themselves a “filmmaker.” Side by Side is now available on-demand on Amazon, and I have to imagine that if you love making films, you’ll love this documentary. Digital vs. film debate aside, however, it looks like an incredible collection of dignified filmmakers to learn from.
Joe and Elle from Digital Bolex were invited to the premiere at the ASC Clubhouse on Monday, and had this to say about the film:
Going into this film, I was ready for deep sorrow. I was also ready for many of the ASC members to discount the content of the film and argue that film has been around for 100 years, and will continue to be around for 100 more, but neither of these things happened. The documentary was so well balanced and showed film in such a heroic light that I, and the rest of the room, didn’t feel like it was the passing of film, but more of a continuation of practices and traditions. One of the ACS members stood up towards the end of the Q&A and I think nailed it on the head: filmmakers are storytellers, and the tools and techniques we use to do this have been evolving since man first started to talk. The importance isn’t the continued use of a tool, but the continued stewardship of storytelling, its traditions, and its meaning from one generation to another.
I’m glad that the tone was that of reasonable discourse and it sounds like a truly remarkable experience and evening, to say the least.
Before premiering Side by Side Tribeca released short one-minute clips called Side Swipes, a series of one minute clips from the documentary. Here are a few of my favorites:
I think we can still have happy accidents without going to film, but Young makes a great point speaking to the organic nature of a true ‘film’ set.
If the opinions of the DP behind one of the most famous steadicam sequences of all time doesn’t hold some weight, I don’t know what does. Again, talking to the organic nature of film.
McAlpine makes a great point — the wastefulness of film, and the inevitability that something else, something digital, takes over.
Pfister speaks to the simplicity of Nolan’s sets, which I assume is largely due to the ease of use of digital technologies (he mentions a handheld Panasonic monitor after all).
And now for the burning question — where do you stand on the digital vs film debate? What are your on-set experiences? Do you want to see celluloid film continue, or are you ready for digital pointillism to take over?