why we shoot film (was: the word is out)

From: Pip Chodorov (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Mar 05 2006 - 02:25:32 PST

This debate seems to have become about artists vs nonartists, film vs
nonfilm, and who is Joey Beercan with the 2.3 children, which is all
starting to bore me. I feel so far from these issues. My relationship
to film is incredibly personal, and it may be interesting to share,
to foster more constructive debate.

My very personal feeling about filmmaking, and I'm not sure how many
on this list share it: the film medium inspires me, the textures,
colors and punchiness of the image, the smell, feel and weight of the
machines. I don't happen to take photographs, I don't happen to use
video, and I don't "make things" with scissors, paper, pens, paint -
I am not an artist in that sense. But I like working with 8 and 16
and capturing light in that way, as I have done since I was 6 or 7,
and I doubt I would continue on another medium. Nothing against the
other media, and nothing against the Duchampian artists who create
out of whatever they happen to find. I just have never felt inspired
in that way, not driven as I am to shoot film. Just seeing the sun
makes me want to shoot a roll of film. I don't think we choose these
things. If film disappears I'll go back to playing the guitar. I
don't think film will disappear in my lifetime, seeing the momentum
of the artist-run film labs and smaller manufacturers of film stock
in eastern Europe and the proliferation of projectors in the
unlikeliest places.

Now, I learned to project when I was even younger, maybe 4 or 5. And
the films that have inspired me most, I have gotten into the habit of
programming, distributing and even publishing on video. But when the
image doesn't inspire me anymore, I am not interested in sharing it
with others. This often happens to me when I see certain films I love
transfered to DVD. I lose interest. Digital compression has removed a
little too much of the textures, colors and punchiness for my taste.
The intentions and excitement are lost. But the prints are still
around and they are still easy enough to show and share and get
people excited in them.

This is all very personal and must have something to do with earliest
childhood and not meant to refute anybody's argument, but sometimes I
wonder where people are coming from when they get all worked up on
this list because the avant-garde is about to die because Kodak is
mismanaged - might as well complain about polar ice caps melting,
it's not going to help much.

Our love for film is not simply nostalgic. We live with film. I feel
very close in sentiment to many of the established experimental
filmmakers of the past who simply captured the world around them and
translated it into light and color and movement, or who got excited
by what film can do and played with that, and I don't think they
worry much about all these issues such as Joey Beercan buying HD
plasma screens to watch football games. Dorsky is sitting on a few
hundred rolls of Kodachrome and will continue quietly making his
films and processing them at Dwayne's. Jonas's Bolex is dusty and his
Hi-8 is rusty so he's just got a PD-170 and learning Final Cut at the
age of 83. It's up to each of us to do what feels right in the

So for me, the question is not whether film is a replaceable medium,
but simply why and how it inspires. This list is of course an hommage
to experimental film and everyone on this list has some kind of
direct relationship to it or they would not be on this list.
Filmmakers have always bickered; I am not encouraging us to stop
bickering; this list is also an hommage to bickering filmmakers. But
sometimes the debates seem to undermine the very reason we are all
talking to each other. We love film. Don't we?

-Pip Chodorov

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.