The True Cost of Filmmaking in the 21st Century

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“Here’s a surprising fact that independent producers may want to consider before they write off film as “too expensive”: There were 120 films in competition at Sundance this year. Based on our research and conversations with Kodak and Fuji only 5% were shot on film… and yet that small minority took 100% of the most coveted Jury and Grand Jury prizes in the US and World Dramatic competitions, as well as winning the Excellence in Cinematography Award in the US Dramatic category.  It’s true that producers of sub-$1M independent film need to watch the bottom line… but isn’t the ultimate goal to win awards and thereby sell the movie?”

via James River Film Journal.

There Are 8 Comments On This Article.

  1. That’s an interesting statistic. But one has to be always careful of inherent bias in numbers.

    Is it possible that these films won those prizes, not because they were shot on film, but because people who are still shooting film are also people willing to take risks, who still understand the craft, who are interested in producing a superior product instead of just banging another film out?

    So it may not be the film that made these films so great, but people who make great films, happen to be shooting on film still, or more likely at least….

    That’s the thing with numbers and stats. They can tell a lot of stories, and that’s why lots of people like to use them. But some of the best stories are told with numbers that have been vetted by folks that understand numbers… Are only 5% of stories [sic] told by fully vetted numbers??

  2. It’s a nice bit of marketing for film, but one year at Sundance hardly proves anything. Plus, the article sort of ignores the fact that you really do need to edit digitally, even when shooting on film. And it completely ignores the cost of all the film prints you need along the way, including the final prints for projection if that’s a goal.

    But as the cost of high end digital keeps going up, maybe film will make sense sometimes. It is a nice thought.

    • It’s unlikely indeed that these films have been 100% analog. In fact it’s my understanding that the US distribution is now or will soon be exclusively digital.

      That too points to not necessarily film as a medium being the only reason that these particular films have scored well, but that it has to do more with the people who have made them.

  3. That doesn’t mean shooting film makes it the best movie. I think it means the best filmmakers choose film (because, well, its better).

    • More like the more experienced filmmakers are used to film workflows.

      The newer generation has less issue with the transition, but they are less experienced with the filmmaking process overall. That will of course change and motion picture film will become a relic as still picture film has.

      Similar thing was occurring in still photography a decade ago.