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"Side By Side" Asks, Does Film Have a Future?

The future of film as a medium is very much in doubt, as evidenced in Chris Kenneally’s riveting documentary “Side by Side.” Soderbergh, Lucas, Dunham, Rodriguez and more sound off in this series of outtakes from the film. Where do you stand?

Whether you know it or not, there’s a revolution going on in Hollywood, right in front of your eyes. With shooting on film being notoriously expensive and (often) backbreakingly laborious, the use of digital technology is on the rise, transforming the way we make—and view—movies. The Tribeca Film documentary Side by Side presents the central issues in the film vs. digital debate in intelligent and dramatic fashion: The future of film as a medium is very much in doubt.

Led in discussion by producer Keanu Reeves, renowned cinematographers, actors, directors, and post-production professionals—including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, James Cameron, and David Fincher—share their insights into and misgivings about this pivotal time in cinema history.

Reeves and director Chris Kenneally gathered such a wide array of information and opinions from the experts that they could not possibly use all of their material in a single documentary. Through our Side Swipes daily video series last month, we highlighted clips that did not make the final version of Side by Side. We’ve selected 10 clips to highlight here; each features a filmmaker weighing in on the core issue of the film: Can film survive a digital revolution?

So scroll down, revisit these outtakes  and tell us: On which side of the debate do you fall?

Robert Rodriguez: I Got a Call From George Lucas...

Robert Rodriguez (Machete, Sin City) recounts the details of a very special visit to Skywalker Ranch involving Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone and a presentation on the advantages of digital filmmaking.

Reed Morano: If Film Means Something to You, Make Film a Priority

Reed Morano, the cinematographer behind Frozen River and For Ellen, paints a hopeful future for budding DPs who still want to shoot on film.

Steven Soderbergh: We Are Always at the Beginning of Infinity

The forward-thinking Steven Soderbergh (Magic Mike, Traffic) responds to the digital holdouts, concluding that no creative person should say “no” to anything, especially new innovations.

Bradford Young: Is Digital Killing Off the Happy Accident?

Indie cinematographer Bradford Young (Pariah, Entre Nos) laments the stolen moments once captured on film—with digital, are they gone forever?

Lena Dunham: No One Under 30 Doesn't Have ADD

Triple-threat Lena Dunham (HBO's Girls, Tiny Furniture) describes her generation’s addiction to multi-platform technology.

Wally Pfister: The Complexities of Chris Nolan’s Movies Are in the Story

Innovative cinematographer Wally Pfister (Inception, Dark Knight Rises) talks about keeping the technology simple.

Vilmos Zsigmond: We Need to Educate Students of Film that it Takes Time to Light

Vilmos Zsigmond, the cinematographer behind The Deer Hunter and Deliverance, makes a case that—no matter how long the process takes—good lighting is a crucial step in filmmaking.

George Lucas: Distribution is a Supermarket—How Do You Get Shelf Space?

The renowned George Lucas (Star Wars, THX 1138) talks about how film fans now have unlimited choices at their fingertips—and what that means for filmmakers who want their work to be seen.

Ellen Kuras: The Biggest Crisis in the Digital Realm is Storage and Preservation

Acclaimed cinematographer Ellen Kuras (Summer of Sam, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) wonders how filmmakers will preserve their work in a world of ever-changing formats of digital production.

Walter Murch: Until Recently, Film was a Digital Sandwich Between Analog Slices of Bread

Walter Murch, the master sound and film editor (Apocalypse Now, Godfather: Part II) shares his view from the filmmaking trenches. 


Digital? or Film? Let your voice be heard in the Comments section below.

Side By Side is now playing in select cities, and on nationwide VOD platforms, including iTunes, Amazon and Vudu. Find out how and where you can watch it.

To keep up with all Tribeca videos—including trailers, filmmaker interviews, exclusive clips, glimpses behind the scenes, and original content—subscribe to our YouTube channel today.


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