Is Shooting on Film a Viable Option for Indie Filmmakers? Kyle Patrick Alvarez Weighs In
Several big name directors stand behind their decision to keep shooting film, which may very well preserve film as a capture medium for years to come. But where does that leave independent filmmakers?
Our friends over at ShareGrid, an LA-based startup which gives filmmakers the power to safely and securely rent equipment to and from one another, recently chatted with Kyle Patrick Alvarez about that very topic. As an indie filmmaker with several successful features under his belt, including the recently released Stanford Prison Experiment, Alvarez has developed a unique perspective on film's value as a capture format for smaller productions.
It feels like we've gotten to the point where the "film vs. digital" debate isn't much of a debate anymore. Of course, from an aesthetic perspective, film still has an undoubtable, subtle charm. It handles highlight rolloff more organically than most digital cameras, and there are some lab processes which still don't have a proper digital equivalent. But in a time when digital cameras are getting better and less expensive, budgets are shrinking, and post production processes can replicate most of what makes film look like it does, finding valid reasons for shooting film is not an easy thing to do.
Ultimately, the main thing to consider is that choosing a capture format is only one tiny piece of a much larger puzzle. As an indie filmmaker, it seems foolish to spend a sizable portion of a budget on stock, processing, and DI costs, especially if those expenditures jeopardize the quality of, say, the production design, or the quality of actors that you can afford to hire. Shooting on film is still a great experience, and it's one that most everybody should get to do at some point because it imbues a sense of discipline into the entire process. However, if your goal is to simply make the best film your budget will allow, which is what I presume most of us are trying to do, then digital will almost surely be the way to go for most of you.
This was the fifth and final installment of ShareGrid's interview series with Kyle. If you missed any of the previous installments, you can find them all here.