Re: why we shoot film

From: Pip Chodorov (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Mar 05 2006 - 17:15:57 PST

Some vegetarians eat not-dogs and facon and veggie burgers, and
others just like vegetables.

I don't know if that helps. Just trying to say that these are the
wrong arguments. Authenticity is a big part of it. When you visit a
new country you can eat the local food or go to McDonalds. There's
something for everyone. Here in film land, let us shoot film. Until
further notice it's still widely available. I have absolutely no
incentive to shoot HD and use a film-grain look - that's
make-believe. Who knows, if I had been brought up twenty years later,
maybe I would have grown up loving video (and I do love computers),
but more likely I would just never have gotten interested in making
moving images at all. Threading a film projector is a totally
inspiring process compared to turning on a TV set. For me it's not
either-or. This is also a proof of just how much of a divide there is
between the two technologies in my opinion. Film creates time through
space (consecutive frames 24 times a second) while video creates
space through time (flying spot over a trellis of lines). Two
different animals. A lot is lost in translation. But one can also
appreciate translations for their own sake, as well as hybrid media.
All is good. Each bring inspiration of their own nature, just as
poems in French, German and Italian speak of different things, as
different words rhyme...

On a practical note, I keep hearing from people who find film
equipment and prints inaccessible. This is not my experience. I don't
believe it's a myth or that I live in a highly priveleged bubble. I
recently needed to acquire a number of 16mm projectors for a 10-month
show at the Pompidou Center featuring film loops (opens April 4th).
Within a week I purchased 4 Bell & Howells, a Bauer and two Eikis.
All were under $175 and in fine working order. Found two xenons too.
Friends in London tell me they readily find Elfs for 50-100 pounds.
Last week we had an opening at the Film Gallery of Super-8
installations by Silvi Simon, scrounged around and found 4
projectors. At L'Abominable we have managed to find contact printers,
developing machines, optical sound cameras, more flatbed tables then
we can store... most of it free. The chemicals are cheap. Printing
stocks are cheap. I can fill my Bolex on ST8 for $6 and develop it
for $9. My 22-minute film on 16mm cost me $600 and has made back its
money in prizes and distribution. Film rentals are typically only $4
a minute. These prices are coherent with the tenuous and fragile
economy of the coop model of artist-run production and distribution,
soon to include preservation. It doesn't have to cost a lot. Not so
the video business. I just spent $6000 making a hi-def master of
Isou's "On Venom and Eternity", another few thousand on "The Brig."
Every dub costs hundreds... All my D2s are obsolete and need to be
transfered. VHS sales do not reimburse these expenses... Tapes and
discs become unreadable within ten years. But those rolls of
Kodachrome I shot in grade school are pristine. This is my very
practical, everyday experience, not philosophical arguments on
esthetics. Of course there are counter-examples.

But I am making HD masters. I do believe in new technology and doing
all one can to make high-quality reproductions. I do think the
shortcomings of DVD alone show off best how ahead of their time are
some experimental film techniques. Anyway, filmmaking is fun, but
it's hard enough finding the time and making these things without the
added burden of 99% of humanity trying to tell us to stop.

-Pip Chodorov

PS Thanks for the people who appreciate the video line. Upcoming
releases include Christopher MacLaine, Jim Davis, Stephen Dwoskin,
Philippe Garrel, Gunvor Nelson, Rose Lowder, Marcel Hanoun...

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