In Praise of 16mm

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They don’t call the medium “film” for nothing.

One of the biggest hot-button issues in contemporary filmmaking is the film versus digital debate. Each side has its advocates and detractors, with those in favor of film citing its timeless qualities and those in favor of digital citing its ease of use and lower cost. Me personally, I’m a film guy, digital makes me feel like I’m watching a soap opera or a home movie, it brings me closer to the world of the film – which is part of its design, to increase verisimilitude – but I don’t want to be that close, I like the remove of filmstock and I’ll take the epic-ness it conjures over the reality of digital eight days a week.

Seems the folks over at The Royal Ocean Film Society agree with me, because their latest video is all about loving 16mm. Their argument hinges on three key traits of filmstock: the grainy look of it, the implied artistry and technical proficiency inherent in working with film over digital, and a frank cost analysis that reveals the gulf between the formats isn’t as wide as you might think.

Wherever you land in this debate, you can’t deny that it’s the grandiose, larger-than-life artificiality of film – the product – that made you fall in love with film – the artform. This insightful, intelligently nostalgic video is the perfect tribute to that, as well as being the perfect rallying cry for the continued use of film in film.

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist