Martin Scorsese on Why We Have to Save Film
With Hollywood studios and filmmakers rallying together last week to save Kodak film from going extinct at least for the next few years, many in the industry have spoken out about the situation. Director Martin Scorsese, who has shot on film the majority of his career (though has recently experimented with digital on some of his more recent projects, including the completely digital Hugo), issued a very personal statement about the state of filmmaking and why it's important that we don't let film die.
Here is the entire statement from Scorsese (courtesy of Indiewire):
We have many names for what we do – cinema, movies, motion pictures. And…film. We’re called directors, but more often we’re called filmmakers. Filmmakers. I’m not suggesting that we ignore the obvious: HD isn’t coming, it’s here. The advantages are numerous: the cameras are lighter, it’s much easier to shoot at night, we have many more means at our disposal for altering and perfecting our images. And, the cameras are more affordable: films really can be made now for very little money. Even those of us still shooting on film finish in HD, and our movies are projected in HD. So, we could easily agree that the future is here, that film is cumbersome and imperfect and difficult to transport and prone to wear and decay, and that it’s time to forget the past and say goodbye – really, that could be easily done. Too easily.
It seems like we’re always being reminded that film is, after all, a business. But film is also an art form, and young people who are driven to make films should have access to the tools and materials that were the building blocks of that art form. Would anyone dream of telling young artists to throw away their paints and canvases because iPads are so much easier to carry? Of course not. In the history of motion pictures, only a minuscule percentage of the works comprising our art form was not shot on film. Everything we do in HD is an effort to recreate the look of film. Film, even now, offers a richer visual palette than HD. And, we have to remember that film is still the best and only time-proven way to preserve movies. We have no assurance that digital information will last, but we know that film will, if properly stored and cared for.
Our industry – our filmmakers – rallied behind Kodak because we knew that we couldn’t afford to lose them, the way we’ve lost so many other film stocks. This news is a positive step towards preserving film, the art form we love.
Film is no doubt going to keep getting more expensive, but keeping it alive, at least for the foreseeable future, means even more people will have the chance to experience how movie-making has been done for over a century. There is a different level of respect required when film is running through a camera, and must be loaded and unloaded in total darkness. If you get the chance to shoot on film, even if it's just a roll or two, I think you should take it (especially since we don't know how much longer it will be around). By keeping film rolling through the Kodak factory, people can at least have the option of experiencing the process the way it has been done since the beginning of the industry.