April 17, 2016 at 10:04AM


Learning to shoot on film


I'm a freshman in film school, and in the past six or so months, I've become very interested in vintage cameras and shooting on film, editing it, general stuff about film cameras, etc. Basically everything that goes with shooting on film.

My school has great resources for digital filming, but I really want to learn this too. I found out my school does teach a class about it all, but considering all of the insane prerequisites and that it's only taught once a year, best case scenario is that I take it at the end of my junior year. I don't think that's really fair, but there's not really anything I can do about it.

I've been trying to find tutorials or websites that could help me learn, but no matter what combination of keywords I try, almost nothing relevant comes up. I can find plenty of stuff on film photography, but almost nothing for film. (I have a friend who goes to a different film school, and he's also tried searching google, and he says he's gotten similar results.)

So basically my question is: does anyone know of websites or articles that could help me?


Depending on where you are located there may be small amateur groups, like groups on meetup.com that come together occasionally that could answer some of the questions for you.

April 17, 2016 at 11:24AM

Cary Knoop

I looked there and, surprisingly, nothing.

mikael larrson

April 17, 2016 at 12:33PM

Have you tried checking your library for books? "Film Directing Shot by Shot:
Visualizing from Concept to Screen" by Stephen D. Katz is a great resource.

Are there no film co-ops where you live? If you want to shoot on film and that
requires taking some prerequisite courses, then maybe just do that. Or volunteer
to work on the crew of one of the students who is already in that film on film class.

April 17, 2016 at 10:58PM

Sean Bokenkamp

Any film book written in the 70s through the 90s should help with that. Also something to be aware of, if you do not live in a big city it may be difficult to find a place that will process and digitize film stock.

April 19, 2016 at 12:19AM

Maury Shessel

Hey Mikael,

A great place to start would be cinematography.com

It's an awesome forum. There are a few ASC members on there that regularly post what they're working on and answer technical questions people have about their lighting set ups and cameras used. There is a section labeled 'Camera Systems and Formats' as well as another one labeled 'Film Stocks and Processing'. These would be right up your alley.

Another place you can check out is motion.kodak.com - It's a good place to learn about Kodak's different film stocks and the best uses for them.

If you want to get super technical into film I would suggest picking up the American Cinematographer Manual. It's kinda of expensive but it's packed with the info you're looking for.

One more book I'll suggest is Cinematography: Theory and Practice: Image Making for Cinematographers and Directors. It's a really great theory book that also has some great technical information in it.

Hope this helped!

April 19, 2016 at 1:55PM

Nick Rowland
Street Bum

Kodak will be releasing their new Super-8 camera this fall along with their new development and processing pipeline. So you'll be able to pick up their super-8 film, shoot on it, and then send it to their lab where everything from the shipping to development and scanning is all included in the original price of the cartridge (and work with any compatible super-8 camera, not just their new one).
This will be a great way to familiarize yourself with film and what it actually means to shoot on and expose for it. Once you've done that, moving on to 16mm and 35mm isn't all that big of a jump. The process is less streamlined and there's plenty of steps to memorize (Youtube makes it easy though) but the basic concept remains the same. At this point you'll probably feel you know what you're doing enough to just buy a roll or two of 16mm film, rent a 16mm camera and experiment.

April 21, 2016 at 8:54AM

Tobias N
Director of Photography

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