Watch: 'In Praise of 16mm' Video Essay Discusses the Grainy Format

April 12, 2017
Source: Vimeo

In Praise of 16mm Video Essay

Time for some film education and film appreciation in the form of a video essay from "The Royal Ocean Film Society". The video essay is titled "In Praise of 16mm" and it is exactly that - filmmaker/cinephile Andrew Saladino examines the use of 16mm film (as opposed to the standard 35mm or larger 65mm) for making movies. For those wondering how often 16mm gets used, some filmmakers do still use it every so often. Here are some recent films that were shot on 16mm: Carol, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, The Squid and the Whale, The Hurt Locker, Moonrise Kingdom, Black Swan, Happy Christmas, Primer, Listen Up Philip, and others. Watch below to learn more about the aesthetic and what makes 16mm "so darn cool."

Thanks to our friends at The Film Stage for the tip on this video essay. Original description from Vimeo: "Film nerds like me love to wax lyrical about 35mm and 65mm, but I often think that 16mm gets unfairly overlooked. Let's spend a few minutes chatting about the format in all its grainy and gritty wonderfulness." The video was created by Andrew Saladino, also known as "The Royal Ocean Film Society" - follow him on Twitter @andymsaladino. For a listing of the songs used, and info on various film formats/where to buy stock, visit the Vimeo page. 16mm has recently been used by Todd Haynes, Wes Anderson, Pablo LarraĆ­n, Kelly Reichardt, Alex Ross Perry, Danny Boyle, and many other filmmakers. What do you think of 16mm?

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Reader Feedback - 3 Comments


Just reminds me how important having a good DP is, more than anything else.

DAVIDPD on Apr 12, 2017


I for myself am more interested in the lenses than in the film format.

tarek on Apr 12, 2017


Hey Bo. Yes, we discussed once on this subject, and I am not a film media "purist", as long as it conveys the "look and feel" of a film ( a contrario of the home video look). So yes, I can do fine without the grains. In fact, and I will probably shock you, but I prefer to watch movies without grains, as long as the look is organic. In the first years of the digital era, the claims regarding the superiority of film over digital were true. By now, I can't see them as relevant as film media defenders are claiming. Digital nowadays is giving to the artists a greater potential to express their creativity. Celluloid was around for almost a century, so people came to see its limitation as something natural, perfect in its imperfection. Don't get me wrong, I am not denigrating the media. It's part of the legacy, and is still relevant for many cases, but nowadays technology can offer similar experience, if not "better" as long as the lenses used can put an"immaterial barrier" between the actor and the viewer.

tarek on Apr 13, 2017

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