Why and How Does Hollywood Still Shoot Movies on Film?

Cinematography has been transformed by the arrival of high-end digital cameras, bringing huge advantages to the entire workflow. So why do some directors prefer to shoot on film and what does this process look like?

DOP Gray Kotzé of In Depth Cine examines how 16mm and 35mm film still plays a large role in modern cinema, despite the fact that the technology has been succeeded by the arrival of digital sensors and ever-increasing resolutions. As a photographer, one of Kotzé’s observations fascinated me: the discipline required when shooting on film brings a completely different atmosphere to a movie set, not just in the preparation, but in the level of focus that is felt not only by the director and cinematographer but by the entire crew. As with shooting stills on 35mm film, having the knowledge that your medium is finite shifts the mentality, and the sense of connection to something more physical and connected to cinema’s history might also be a factor.

I’d be interested to see more details of how a film-out is created and what impact this has on the final product, the viewing experience, and whether this decision comes at a directorial level or is mostly down to where the film is being projected. If you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments below.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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But Andy, don't you know, only useless hipster hacks who don't know what they're doing shoot film...