Thursday, 7 July 2016

Democratic digital opened up elite industry?

Tangerine dream? This iPhone-shot movie had critics raving, and is cited below as an example of why we should celebrate the passing of 35mm and its replacement with digital. (NB: the trailer features strong language) Read more at, BBC, Techradar, Guardian and nofilmschool.

Most articles about digitisation tend to bemoan the undermining of celluloid and the 35mm film, but this one celebrates the democratising improvements it has brought about, shaking up a conservative industry with high barriers to entry.
The problem with 35mm was always the price tag – just the film itself was gougingly expensive. Movie-making was a club with lunatic entry fees. Like all such clubs, some meritocracy was long overdue. Digital unlocked the gate financially and then, in turn, creatively. 
Take a movie like Tarnation, made in 2003 for the oddly precise sum of $218 (like most numbers in film, there was small print, but the gist remains intact). Its creator, Jonathan Caouette, wasn’t a director in any conventional sense. He was a smart kid from a baroquely troubled family, and rather than write a script to tell its story, he imported old snapshots and shards of home movies on to a brightly coloured desktop iMac, tweaked them, arranged them, and turned life into art in a way that would previously have been impossible.
In the world of big-league filmmaking, ones and zeros conjured all manner of spectacle: think of the computer soul of Gravity, returning the blockbuster to a state of childlike wonder. But in the wider world, the changes were even more profound. It hardly felt like a coincidence that last year’s Tangerine – the beautifully, casually radical story of a pair of trans women in wildside LA – was shot on three iPhones. It wasn’t just that they gave the film its non-stop momentum, or that this was the kind of movie that would have been murderously tough to get financed in the past. It was that it felt like a part of the wider explosion of culture, made with a device a billion people know the feel of, a contribution from an artform not yet ready for the museum, still rudely vital.
Celluloid is strictly for nostalgists. Digital technology saved a dying medium.

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