How the Switch to Kodak Ektachrome Film Breathed New Life into Season 2 of 'Euphoria'

Season 2 of 'Euphoria' Credit: WarnerMedia Studios & Networks
Season 2 of Euphoria looks better than ever, thanks to Kodak Ektachrome and the pandemic. 

The long-awaited season two of the HBO series, Euphoria, premiered last Sunday, and you might have noticed that things look a little different this time around. The change in aesthetics that the show is known for came from changing what the series was shot on. 

Euphoria director, Sam Levinson, told cinematographer Marcell Rév that he wanted to create a more restricted version of the show that mimicked the worn-out youth that the story follows. Levinson and Rév decided to switch from shooting digital to shooting on Kodak Ektachrome. 

Levinson reached out to Kodak to see if it would even be possible to get enough of the film stock to shoot an entire series in the 35mm format. According to Levinson, Kodak converted parts of its factory to make it possible. 

Ektachrome is known for its beautiful color and has a super fine grain and rich saturated color that is great for daylight shooting. The film stock can also pick up skin tone better than most films, allowing Rév to capture beautiful close-ups of characters and make sitting with simple moments more powerful. 

The switch from a digital format in season one to an analog was Levinson’s attempt to expand the visual language of the show. In a behind-the-scenes video, Levinson says, “If season one was a house party at 2 a.m., season two should feel like 5 a.m., way past the point at which everyone should have gone home.” 

Rév noted how the two seasons differ in visual tone, saying, “Season one was very in the moment, and had a present feel to it. [Season 2} feels like some sort of memory of high school. Emotionally—the [Ektachrome] film felt like the right choice.” 

Season 2 of 'Euphoria' shot on Kodak Ektachrome.Credit: WarnerMedia Studios & Networks

The idea to shoot on the Ektachrome film came to Levinson and Rév two weeks into the pandemic when planning the bonus episodes that were released last winter. The two used the bonus episodes to experiment with the film to see where the show’s tone could go in the future.

“Things got more simple, and we were able to explore a side of this show we would probably never explored if the pandemic hadn’t happened,” said Rév in an interview with American Cinematographer

Although we have not seen the full beauty of the Ektachrome film on display, we are excited to tune in each Sunday night to see how the switch from digital to film impacts the emotional and visual tones of Euphoria. 

You can check out new episodes of Euphoria every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

What are your thoughts on Euphoria’s switch from digital to Ektachrome film? Let us know in the comments below!      

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8 Comments

They killed one of the best things the show had going for it with the creative music video style cinematography and editing. This move comes off as lazy and at least from the first episode of season 2 it looks like season 1 will be the high point like so many shows. For most shows season 1 is when creators have to prove something and in season 2 it's easy to lose that drive.

January 12, 2022 at 9:31AM

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They know they can match digital to film now right? From recreating the colors, contrast, grain, halation, gate weave, etc... Do cinematographers and "auteurs" just want to ignore that? Because it's looks really ignorant at this point and kind of lazy.

January 13, 2022 at 12:12AM

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Editor fret over a frame, you don't notice this. Dop's make a choice between a 1/4 silk and 1/2 silk flyswatter, miniscule difference. Costume designers will fret between two different materials of the same colour that you will never notice. And if you watched each take a director does you will often find it hard to understand why one was chosen over the other. My point is theses things in isolation may be meaningless, on the whole they create the show, any show. These choices, some meaningless to you will be important to some... and they are the choices being made by the creatives.

The choice to shoot on film could be many things some tangible, some intangible, taking away LUTS and DITS and the endless take possibility of digital can be freeing for a director - they force choices and they force accepting and moving rather than endless fretting. Maybe the DOP can let things burn out in the highlights in different ways, as they do in succession, maybe it's a light camera than the LF, maybe not, maybe theres something psychological that happens when you click record on a finite resource rather than an infinite resource... The psychology is as important as the tangible, this is story telling not just image creation. So the fact you can mimic the 'look' of film in small batches of controlled tests or maybe even short films does not mean that the outcome on an 8hr series of television is the same... It's ignorant and lazy to think it would...

January 13, 2022 at 12:36AM

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Isaac Elliott
Director - Producer
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I've heard this argument before and it's not convincing. If you want to limit shooting time, why not just bring a limited number of ssd's or batteries on set or some other silly thing. From what I see, the push to film usually comes from a non-tech savvy director. To me, it's an insult to the pro color graders, who can give the director any look he wants

January 13, 2022 at 8:43AM

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d shay
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Pseudo intellectual stuff right here. you literally just proved my point. "you can let things burn out in the highlights in different ways". you can also do that through digital manipulation. Have you been to a coloring house recently? You also know tv shows and major motion pictures have an almost endless of supply of film to shoot with on each project right? Most of the up and coming "auteurs" now came from shooting digital and are treating film the same way. Like d shay said, your argument is not convincing at all.

January 30, 2022 at 12:02AM

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Also consider that by making that choice the director/DP frees themselves from possible studio notes and endless discussions on how 'film look' to add, whether or not it should be toned down or up etc. If you want something to look like Ektachrome you are gonna get that by shooting Ektachrome, always.

January 13, 2022 at 7:49AM

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how exactly is it lazy be choosing a much less forgiving format? I totally disagree, film can me imitated digitally, but youre not going to get the exact same colors across the board in different lighting situations, its also much more challenging and demanding from a lighting design perspective due to the lower ASA rating of film. digital still doesnt have the same characteristics as film and its awesome to see a non-traditional photo film that is color positive being used for film making. im all for it and you can see it led to some really creative lighting design and techniques being used in season 2.

January 24, 2022 at 2:47PM

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*sigh* I think most folks who are disagreeing:

1. have never really dove into film emulation. (I'm talking days, months, years of researching, speaking with film/digital colorists, actually doing overs and unders of film stocks and collecting the data points, testing with audiences footage of real film vs digital.
2. Have never shot actual motion picture film or at least 35mm. (your leica m6 and bolex don't count)
3. Never have done a side by side of any film stock with an alexa. (both being color corrected on a large screen. yes film also has to be color corrected...gasp)
4. Don't know how to color grade. (filmconvert being as accurate as microsoft paint when it comes to film emulation. They like to say otherwise.)
5. Have been on instagram too long, getting advice from "DPs" who have the advertising skills of a southern televangelist.
6. Want to feel special and cool. (this is usually the main reason, influencer level)
7. Nostalgia. Probably towards the films they watched growing up, which shot on film. Shooting on film isn't going to bring back your younger simpler years or make your movie any better. It's just a hard truth.

Don't be an influencer, educate yourself

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January 30, 2022 at 12:16AM, Edited January 30, 12:18AM

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