This also is a fallacy. Film is a choice more than ever today. 20 years ago it was an obvious choice but today it is a choice with a committment attached - an esthetic, political, poetic or personal committment.

More and more young students are getting interested in working with super-8 for example, and Kodak has released new stocks, faced with new demand. Our federation of 26 film labs has grown to 32 over the past few years, with new artist-run labs springing up in new places (Athens, Vilnius, Reykjavic...) For the almost-complete list see www.filmlabs.org.


You say the process is losing footing but I see it stable and growing: The chemicals are readily avaiable (they are used in other industries), cameras and projectors and editing equipment are everywhere and still coveted, snapped up on ebay as soon as they are made available, and most of that equipment is easy to fix with a little know-how - spare parts can always be made or found (not so with most digital technology). I have seen engaged artists resuscitate all kinds of equipment, and even refabricate the rare lens-mount or obsolete battery.

Thanks to the digital revolution, we film artists can now get our hands on machines that we could never have even dreamt about in the past: Optical printers! Contact printers! Developing machines! 35mm projectors! Optical sound cameras! Six-plate Steenbecks galore! Even the mythical Nagra! L'Abominable has finally found, after ten years of searching, an Oxberry 16mm/Super-16mm/35mm optical printer, a machine that cost $20.000 just a couple of years ago, for free if we pick it up - we will be able to make all sorts of work in all three formats, from optical effects to release prints, for the cost of material.

It is certainly not about deep pockets. L'Abominable got a call in 1996 from a friend in Bourges who found a Debrie contact printer in a junkyard for cars - we went and picked it up. Sure it took some time and effort and engineering know-how to get it working properly, but on that Matipo I eventually made over the past decade a half-dozen films that have shown in festivals around the world. Not only me but over 200 people have worked on that printer. We also found that festivals were overjoyed to receive 16mm prints as these have become rare occurrences.

The production budget and the cost of prints are minimal - 10 cents/foot for developing, printing AND processing the print! My 22-minute film"Piltzer" cost roughly $600 to produce. It has shown in dozens of festivals and is rented regularly from the film coops in Paris, New York and San Francisco. At $60 per rental, each print is reimbursed after five screenings. The film has made its money back several times over.

Even if you disagree that this way of working is tenable or long-lasting, it exists, and the argument that "film may not be a choice anymore" is not an evidence at all.

To Maya Deren's remark that she can make a film for the price that a Hollywood studio spends on lipstick, I say: I can make a film for the price that a videaste has to spend on a new hard drive!

-Pip Chodorov





At 23:21 -0400 8/10/11, Mark Longolucco wrote:
It doesn't matter if digital looks like film or not.


I would beg to differ that it is kind of the point- not as to why artists choose to work in film, but for why film may not be a choice for an artist anymore.

This issue with film's struggle to stay vibrant is that it is the entire process that is losing footing. It's not just the celluloid production, it's the chemicals, it's physical cameras, it's the processing labs, it's projectors, the editors, it's everything. All of these individual parts have to fight with the idea that much of what can be done visually with film, can be mimicked with digital cameras. Not just buy the companies that produce these things but that the artist that will be using them. And while I understand artists now can see the value of film and its physical differences from digital "film", I have a hard time believing future artists will feel the need to go through the processes of film or challenge an idea that they might need to.


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