why we shoot film

From: david tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Mar 05 2006 - 09:25:51 PST

Pip asked

>We love film. Don't we?

The use of the term is too vague, conflates too much. "Film' denotes
a technology and/or an art-form, and we seem to disagree on whether
those things can be separated. I love 'film' the medium, but it's a
small love, ultimately dispensible under pressure. What I love more
are 'the films' the art, the vision, whatever you want to call it.

Mitsu refers to "pointless infighting that serves only to distract us
from what I think is far more interesting, the discussion and promotion of
experimental, innovative, creative work in any medium." Partly true.
But the infighting does have a point, which stems exactly from the
desire to discuss and promote experimental innovative creative work.

I teach production at a liberal arts college. Our students are not
'artsy' and they arrive thinking 'film' is what they see in
multiplexes. If I do my job well, they leave with a broadened
perspective. I want to encourage them to makes kinds of pieces they
have previously unfamiliar with - to encourage them to explore,
experiment, innovate. They can't just do this out of thin air, they
need to get some sense of what alternative visions are and have been,
and they need some exemplars of being different.

Here is where people like Sterritt and myself run into a big problem
-- the increasing difficulty of presenting this work, as the
institutions around us have dropped support of film and gone all
digital. Not to mention the fact that a film print is NOT suitable
for close study of a work, and an electonic reproduction is...

Before you write the 'you could show the films on film if you tried'
posts, let me note that I have been running a one person effort to
revive 16mm projection on our campus, but there is no one who cares
about and no one to do anything but me. I have been at it for a year
and a half, but we still don't have a single 16mm projection setup I
have confidence in.

It is counter productive anytime anyone posting here speaks of a
wider audience to come back with some smack about Joe Sixpack and his
Plasma of the 'the public are cretins' variety because that is not
what we are talking about. We are not speculating. We are talking
about empirical evidence, actual people we know, mostly young people,
mostly students. We have seen, again and again, how their eyes get
opened, maybe even their lives changed, when they get a chance to see
this stuff -- in any kind of copy. Have you not read the many posts
to this list from people who live in the sticks and are dying to get
to more of this stuff but have no opportunity? Yet, the constant
response to these queries is to throw up hurdles along with a lot of
rah, rah chatter about how easy they are to jump over. Yeah baby, you
can raise that money to rent prints if you try! Yeah, all you need is
the will and a phillips #1 to keep that old surplus projector humming
along so it doesn't chew up those rare prints! Thank you Dr. Pangloss.

We also have empirical proof, as Sterritt, mentions, that these
potential enthusiastic audiences are best reached by maximizing
overall projection fidelity, regardless of the medium of

I'm happy things seem much better in Europe for the connection of
the-art-that-is-on-film with the actual material of film. Things are
different here Pip.

To sum up, the film vs. electronic debate matters because the
ideological gravity of the positions groups of people take influences
the actual breadth of distribution of work, and the nature of
distribution matters because in the real world real individual people
who want and need access to the spirit living in this art are being
needlessly shut out.

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