Tarantino, Nolan, Apatow, Abrams Join Together to Save 35mm Film
Hooray for filmmakers! On the same day as Christopher Nolan's birthday, news hits that Kodak has struck a deal with Hollywood movie studios to keep 35mm film alive. For now. The Wall Street Journal is reporting a big story that actually names some names saying that film production at Kodak is being saved thanks to a few filmmaker "lobbyists" who pushed the studios to make this deal. Officially numbers will be announced soon, but Kodak has partnered with the studios to "buy a set quantity of film for the next several years" even though they may not use it all, which will help keep one of their main factories open and running. Read on.
The report on the deal names a few specific directors: Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Judd Apatow, and J.J. Abrams (who is "currently shooting Star Wars Episode VII on film"), as those who "lobbied the heads of studios to help find a solution." Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of Weinstein Company, is also quoted as saying the deal is really "a financial commitment, no doubt about it. But I don't think we could look some of our filmmakers in the eyes if we didn't do it." It's important because it helps keep Kodak film available. "Kodak's new chief executive, Jeff Clarke, said the pact will allow his company to forestall the closure of its Rochester, N.Y., film manufacturing plant, a move that had been under serious consideration."
As part of this new deal with Kodak, "studios are committing to purchase a certain amount of film without knowing how many, if any, of their movies will be shot on the medium over the next few years." That seems troublesome, but at the same time, these filmmakers would argue it's important to make sure that film lives on - @save35mm should be very happy. "In an industry where we very rarely have unanimity, everyone has rallied around keeping film as an option for the foreseeable future," said Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara.
Old film canisters at the Seattle Antiques Market, photo via beans in a can.
In a separate, short interview with the Wall Street Journal, J.J. Abrams also spoke outright in support of film saying: "I would argue film sets the standard and once it’s no longer available, the ability to shoot the benchmark goes away. Suddenly you’re left with what is, in many cases, perfectly good but not necessarily the best, the warmest, the most rich and detailed images." Many other filmmakers are supporting this and speaking out in favor of film, not to mention shooting with it on their latest projects anyway. The WSJ says Weinstein was "personally lobbied" by Tarantino to support this. Another big supporter is Judd Apatow:
Film and digital video both "are valid choices, but it would be a tragedy if suddenly directors didn't have the opportunity to shoot on film," said Mr. Apatow. director of comedies including "Knocked Up" and "The 40 Year-Old Virgin," speaking from the New York set of his coming movie "Trainwreck," which he is shooting on film. "There's a magic to the grain and the color quality that you get with film."
It's great to see so much support behind this, even though it seems like an excessive financial burden, but a necessary one. And if you haven't been able to understand the difference between the quality of film and digital, go to places like the New Beverly or Silent Cinema or Film Society of Lincoln Center or MoMA or MoMI for actual 35mm screenings. There are so many places, and so many people, supporting 35mm film but we also need to make sure we can continue to shoot on film. Abrams explains: "I would hope filmmakers who are just getting started will be able to have this as an option as they continue in their careers because movies are nothing if not a romantic experience and film is a big part of that." Agreed. Here's to film/35mm!