J.J. Abrams Filming 'Star Wars: Episode VII' on 35mm with Dan Mindel

August 22, 2013

J.J. Abrams / Star Wars

Though there may not have been any big Star Wars news to come out of Disney's D23 Expo earlier this month, there's some small good news for cinephiles and film nerds out there. (via The Playlist) has word that an announcement was made at an industry event in Los Angeles that director J.J. Abrams will be shooting Star Wars: Episode VII on 35mm film, specifically, Kodak film stock 5219 for the literal film nerds out there. In addition, it was revealed that Dan Mindel, who worked with Abrams on Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and Mission: Impossible III, will be the director of photography. Read on!

That's a big change from George Lucas shooting all three of the prequels digitally with David Tattersall as cinematographer. Honestly, I think this will be a nice aesthetic change for Star Wars that will harken back to the roots of the original films. There was something very artificial about the prequels, and part of that came from the look of shooting digitally, not to mention the heavy amount of computer generated visual effects over practical effects. For a Disney frame of reference, Mindel also shot John Carter. This makes sense since Abrams recently told the Produced By conference, "I have not yet shot a movie digitally. Film is the thing I am most comfortable with. If film were to go away — and digital is challenging it — then the standard for the highest, best quality would go away." Stay tuned for anymore updates on Star Wars.

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  • Chuckee Knowlton
    Cue the lense flare comments. People just can't get enough of those.
    • OfficialJab
      Said Chuckee, kicking off the lens flare comments.
  • OfficialJab
    You mean they're shooting it with live people and everything? It's not 110% CG like the last ones?
  • Steven Kirkby
    What type of tripods are they using?
    • avconsumer2
      Sachtler of course!! (is there any other kind?)
      • Reuel Gomez
        I don't think they're using tripods, and if they were, they'd most likely use oconnor.
        • avconsumer2
          Ah right. Mostly live / i-mag applications myself. I didn't think that one through.
  • Sky
  • mashedpotatoes
    FYI, "Episode 1" was shot on 35mm, except for the scene where Anakin gets his blood drawn.
  • jimfromtoto
    JJ also wanted to insert some humour into the next Star Wars and cast Adam Sandler as Jaba the huts son.
  • jimfromtoto
    It makes ZERO difference wether it was shot on film or digital. Every roll of film gets scanned digitally. Every frame then gets uber colour graded. and its all edited digitally. Even the dailies are viewed digitally. Curious if any will get shot on a larger format? Film means no 3D. Which means all 3D will get done in post and suck like shit. Another nice bonus is there will be no HFR version. man HFR Hobbit sucked shit.
    • Chris Groves
      Good lord, you have no idea what you are talking about. Film IS currently a bit better than Digital in terms of resolution and detail. It's not miles ahead, the best digital camera is very comparable to film, but as of now, film still edges the best digital camera slightly...and film is miles ahead of the less-than-great digital cameras and films that have poor compression rates. Also, not all 3D conversions are shit. There have been plenty of conversion jobs that were great, and the technology is only going to improve.
      • Hankcoca
        Good lord, don't correct people when you don't know what you're talking about. jk, kinda. He's not talking about a technical comparison of camera to camera and what their capable of but what the final product goes though. Technical wise by the time the film image is done going through the many processes the image deluded. Regardless at the end of the day film behind the wrong group of production and post production people can look way worst than digital and vise versa
        • Miki Zazpiki
          Yeah... to my grandma it's easier to make a good stuff from digital than from film XD. Sorry, but definitely it is you who doesn't know what is talking about :)
  • Lautaro
    It doesn't make any difference at all. Film can certainly look like crap if you're careless with it, not to mention to the fact that it will be probably overloaded with cc, cgi, non-sense and non-stop boring action sequences with hundred of elements exploding on screen (see star trek into darkness) so at this point, with all those toppings, I can't tell no more which way a film was shoot. So... the key here, to me, is to go just with a dark and dense aesthetic, too keep it real (Yeah, in a star wars context)... but hey, this is my taste.
    • Miki Zazpiki
      It does, a lot!
  • Boba Fett Fan Club
    Hey Ethan, we've got a correction. The source of this news is actually us -- -- which was later picked up by TFN, as noted in their fine print. Thanks!
  • Reuel Gomez
    Film can't die yet, I haven't had a chance to play w/it yet.
    • Hankcoca
      Then Do it NOW! it's getting harder and harder to get a hold of film these days. Get a camera and film. It's fun
      • Miki Zazpiki
        Film is as easy to play as always. Don't know in Sri Lanka...
      • Reuel Gomez
        Yeah, I'm a high-school sophmore. What's more important to me at this point is that I get good grades so I can go to film school.
  • avconsumer2
    Well, definitely good that he's sticking with what he knows. Though, with all the "crisp glitz" that filters through with the new ST's, I don't see that it matters a whole lot. Yes. I just coined that phrase. "Crisp glitz." Saw it here first folks.
  • Chris Groves
    Digital is ever improving. Every year, the gap between 35mm film and the latest and greatest digital camera gets more and more narrow. In my opinion, the 'film over digital' advocates should start filming their films in 65mm. Digital is very close to 35mm film, but it's certainly a ways away from things like 65mm or 70mm IMAX formats. Digital will eventually catch and surpass film's only natural. The photo-chemical process will only be able to go so far. 4 and 5k digital cameras are what people are working with now, and it's very close to 35mm film quality...but one day, that will be 10K, or 15K. I'd recommend 'Side by Side', an EXCEPTIONAL documentary on the film to digital transition. Now, on topic...I'm cool with Abrams sticking with 35mm, in this day and age, it's not a huge difference maker...but still, good for him. I'm curious if he will film any of it in 65mm or IMAX? That would be fun. Certainly the film will likely be released in IMAX like every major blockbuster, it would just be cool for it to have sequences shot in the format. I wouldn't be surprised if Disney converted it to 3D, either, which would be fine by me.
    • Picture House
      Film quality isn't all about high definition. It's more about the visual appearance. The original Star Wars was filmed on cheap stock to save budget but the look of that cheap stock is what's familiar to fans so the Star Wars films are inadvertently tied to having a slightly grainy look which has never damaged the popularity of the films. Where budget is available to make deeper choices than money-related, film makers will consider the different appearance film stocks offer to the look of the film. For example from some older stocks I used on 8mm, Kodachrome 40 was fantastic for capturing rich summer sunlit colours in a fine grain, high sharpness while Fujichrome RT200T was good for creating gritty low res images for urban of horror movie looks in low-light conditions. It's for the same reasons that films may be shot on 70mm, regular 35mm, half-frame 35, super 16 or even super 8mm. Filmstock is a range of tools for making movies. High Definition isn't everything in making films. I grew up on and learned film production on both film and video formats and appreciate what you say about digital, it certainly has improved and provided the means for amateur films to reach major cinema screens with ease but no matter what digital offers film formats are still an important means to make movies in the same way that people still want vinyl records!
    • Miki Zazpiki
      Picture quality it's not only a matter of "definition". In colour rendition digital is the same shit now that it was at the very beginning, no road to improve this... Also digital has very poor exposure latitude and only 30% contrast compared to film.
      • Chris Groves
        All of those things are improving with time, though.
  • cobrazombie
    I'm crossing this movie off my Christmas list.
  • Hankcoca
    Star Wars Episode 1 was shot in film, and by the way digital is catching up fast and I don't think we will only miss film in the nostalgic sense or when it comes to workflow but it won't be like we lost quality. Digital is not there yet but it will be, it will be.
  • Picture House
    See that phrase, "film nerd" ...appreciating film for it's wide range of qualities does not make a person a "nerd" of any description. Go look it up in the dictionary.
  • Miki Zazpiki
    Digital is crap, and is video, not "film". That's why ALL big budget productions (not the ones with tons of special effects) are ALWAYS shot on film and digital video is not an option for them. Digital is ok for amateurs and wannabes.
  • Brent Snyder
    The Star Wars prequels may not have been good on digital, but that was the early generation of it. You want to see high quality digital, watch Avatar. That's how it's done.




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