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Mario A. Peraza

How long will film last for?

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I want to buy an analog film camera for my own personal use. I really value film as a medium to record images for it's raw use, I don't really value it as a competitive attribute for films against digital.

 

I want to know if it will last and if it will be in the market for a while. There's a bunch of film cameras that are, unfortunately, relatively expensive but still at the sub $10,000 level. It makes me think they are still in demand for people who still have a desire to shoot in analog film.

 

Does it make sense to buy for personal long term use?

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No.. a couple of years at the most..buy a Sony A series camera for personal use.. or equivalent.. there might be some other opinions :)

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No.. a couple of years at the most..buy a Sony A series camera for personal use.. or equivalent.. there might be some other opinions :)

What makes you so sure? Do you have any inside information? According to someone I know at the Kodak lab, there is an upward trend for shooting on film in the UK. I hope it'll last.

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My sources .. I can't mention names of course .. assure me that all film production will cease after Brexit.. Arri and Sony will make a massive stock market attack on Kodak via the Frankfurt bourse on the 2nd of April.. and then shutter the whole operation.. warehouse stock will be sold at a huge premium till supplies run low.. the last of which will be dumped in the Thames under cover of night.. my brokers are of course ready to pounce .. please keep this information within this forum.. and I must inform you that insider trading is illegal .. and I will in no way or form, take responsibility for any finical losses you may or may not incur .. should you not decide to act upon aforementioned information..

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My sources .. I can't mention names of course .. assure me that all film production will cease after Brexit.. Arri and Sony will make a massive stock market attack on Kodak via the Frankfurt bourse on the 2nd of April.. and then shutter the whole operation.. warehouse stock will be sold at a huge premium till supplies run low.. the last of which will be dumped in the Thames under cover of night.. my brokers are of course ready to pounce .. please keep this information within this forum.. and I must inform you that insider trading is illegal .. and I will in no way or form, take responsibility for any finical losses you may or may not incur .. should you not decide to act upon aforementioned information..

Haha, very funny. By the way, what are "finical" losses?

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Haha, very funny. By the way, what are "finical" losses?

 

 

Its old English and rather finicky... you have to have gone to LSE to really understand it..

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Its old English and rather finicky... you have to have gone to LSE to really understand it..

...and only those who attained a degree in finical finance.

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...and only those who attained a degree in finical finance.

 

 

Maybe.. maybe not.. could be.. not exactly sure.. its possible .. hard too pin down..

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Getting back to the topic. I shoot film (16mm &Super8) because, relative to digital, it’s permanent. Digital is great for certain purposes. And of course now commercial theaters project digital, even if original was shot on film. A feature film on a cd weighs a lot less than a bunch of 35mm print reels.

On the other hand, storage costs are a lot less for film than digital for archival purposes. A great deal cheaper. That is the reason Hollywood contracted with Kodak to guarantee film production. Digital is transferred to film.

Rapid changes in digital technology is both blessing and disaster. Cameras made 75 yrs ago can still make movies. What ever happened to High 8, VHS, Beta. How long will digital cameras use memory cards?

Technology moves forward, but does not obliterate the old.

I have movies I tool 50 yrs ago. I have floppies, digital tapes and disk drives with inaccessible data.

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Few things. Kodak's motion picture division is permanently solvent. When they rebuilt the park, they now lease the buildings on the property and that excess money is what they need for kodak to stay around forever.

 

There are already two new film manufacturers in process of making film. Yes it will take them a while to get off the ground, but in the next 5 years we should see all new film stocks to compete with Kodak.

 

So film is staying...

 

In terms of owning cameras. Let me say for the record, I own various Super 8, 16mm and 35mm cameras and at least one of them is on rental constantly. Most of the labs are very busy processing and transferring new shows, most of them commercial/music video and short narratives. So yea there is a brave new world of people owning film cameras they once could only dream of having. I don't think everyone can rent, but if you build the right package, they will come.

 

Remember, it's great to own a camera, but the accessories and lenses are the hardest, most expensive part.

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Film is on the way out.. lets face it.. just look at the last 20 years of professional production.. from corporate video,s to the biggest budget feature films.. the percentage shot on film has taken a massive nose dive..this is an undeniable fact.. there is only one company even manufacturing it.. and that was a very close call... no company is permanently solvent BTW.... yes technology advances.. and a good thing too.. I like the look of film.. but its no more permeant than digital .. where did that idea come from... it would make zero sense for a 20 year old freelancer starting their career to invest in a film camera .. as their main money maker.. and another major move forward.. look at the price of camera,s these days ! .. just over $40k for a Sony Venice !!..way less than a digibeta 15 yrs ago.. under $10k for a Fs7 II.. film is already a niche market.. and its on a very tight rope even now.. yes its a bit sad.. people hated close ups ,people hated talking movies, people hated color movies.. people hate digital even when they can't even tell them apart.. its nostalgia for some . and fear of the unknown to others ..but really empirical logic has it writ large .. the age of film is on the way out.. already a niche market.. it only takes a couple of new directors on the board of Kodak, down turn in the film industry ..big theatre chain goes bust..

 

Sorry guys but already in only a few years Netflix et el have taken over the industry.. times are changing.. for good or bad but they are.. when the already few big hitters who demand to shoot on film retire to Palm Springs .. sun sets.. roll credits ..

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Film is on the way out.. lets face it.. just look at the last 20 years of professional production..

Three things that killed film:

 

- AFTRA merged with SAG, which meant films could be shot with "video" cameras which wasn't the case prior.

- 3D films happened, which forced theaters to buy digital projectors, negating the necessity of film prints. The studio's put a hard date on film prints ending, which wasn't fought hard enough by Kodak. Management at the time wasn't strong enough to keep things going like they are today.

- Kodak filed bankruptcy, which scared everyone into thinking film would die.

 

Kodak was unhealthy from years of horrible management. They never consolidated their assets until AFTER the bankruptcy.

 

Today Kodak is super healthy and for the first time in years, we saw 45 theatrically released films shot on film in 2018 (up from 33 in 2017) world wide, 17 of them US features. Plus a myriad of television, promotional, commercial, industrial and music video products. I have my finger on the pulse of the labs and frankly, all of them are doing pretty good. None fantastic, but that's because the print business is dead. If that were ever to come back, even in a small form, everyone would be doing great.

 

no company is permanently solvent BTW....

Well yes, an act of god could happen. Kodak no longer needs contracts with the studio's to stay alive. They've got a lean and trim business model which is working. They aren't going anywhere.

 

I like the look of film.. but its no more permeant than digital ..

Film has more dynamic range, with softer roll off and far better natural/smoother skin tones then any digital camera. If all you do is manipulate the crap out of your image, like every single show you've enamored about that shoots on the Sony cameras, then who cares what you use for a capture device. Soderbergh uses iPhones, for his heavily manipulated shows. I've seen both of them, they look no different on my display streaming online then anything shot with a fancy digital cinema camera. It's all about how much time is put into lighting and grading in post.

 

May I remind you that when they went to re-master Star Wars Episode II and III, they couldn't do so off the digital masters. The BluRay's are off film prints because in what, in the last 15 years, technology has advanced so rapidly, they couldn't even re-constitute the tape's. Today, technology is moving WAY faster then 15 years ago. Who says DNX, XAVC or even Pro Res will be around 20 years from now? I can tell you right now it won't be. Plus, do you know how many shows original masters are being saved? Try 5 - 10%.

 

With film, it sits on a shelf forever and unless you purposely throw it away, in 100 years the medium will be seen by the naked eye. So digitizing it is still possible because it's analog. Same can be said with any physical analog medium like Records.

 

it would make zero sense for a 20 year old freelancer starting their career to invest in a film camera .. as their main money maker..

This I agree with, but then again, I wouldn't suggest anyone spend more than 2 grand on a digital cinema kit when they start out. I think having a digital camera to start with is much better because you can see instant results and it's not about a particular "look", it's about shooting a lot without spending a lot so you can get your skills down.

 

Sorry guys but already in only a few years Netflix et el have taken over the industry.. times are changing.. for good or bad but they are..

Where I agree streaming is the future for the average consumer, I also think film in theaters will come back once someone can figure out how to market/amortize it as something "special". Here in So Cal every time there is a print showing of a new movie, it's sold out screenings. It's simply taking that and pushing it across the country with advertising and making sure projectionists are trained properly to give excellent presentations. Netflix is in serious financial trouble BTW and Amazon video isn't too far behind.

 

when the already few big hitters who demand to shoot on film retire to Palm Springs ..

WOW, I guess you have no idea who shoots on film. Why don't you take a second and google search the people who shoot on film. Nearly all of them are young filmmakers and the list is growing fast. I know this because well... I rent my cameras to those shows. My XTR Prod is on a theatrical bound feature right now, done by young people, the DP is 28 years old and only shoots film.

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Yeah no technology humans have invented has ever really disappeared and certainly there is quite a demand for film and as long as there is human civilization there will be film.

 

Kodak is doing ok and there are now several other film manufacturers.

 

And people are building new film cameras.

 

And on and on.

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Well its not only an act of god that will make a company go bust !.. I don't think you will find the term "permanently solvent " in any economics study.. less still in our great capitalist system :)

 

But to the point .. digital now has the same DR as film.. the image can be manipulated way more that film.. rent out a Sony f5/55 with the recorder ..16 bit Raw !!.. I mean really this old drum beat is now a thing of the past.. it just doesn't stand up to scrutiny .. Im not arguing that film is better than digital or not.. just that its very obvious that film is very much on the decline.. I would guess 98% of TV is shot digital .. and 100 % of corporate .. I have no dog in the race.. its great you guys are shooting film.. all power to you.. but you have to be living under a rock to not see that globally.. there is absolutely no denying ..film is on the way out.. Ive seen it myself from my very first job as camera dept runner in the 70,s.. as soon as its not economical it will go ..a cheaper more efficient,easier technology has taken over and constantly being refined.. the fact you know a 28 year old DP who only shoots film is not really going to be of any concern.. except to him/her who will have a pretty short and or limited career ..

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Film is a niche thing but it will not go away as soon as some are predicting. Anything that needs archiving is recorded on film for posterity because it is the only lasting medium that you can rely on. Last week I saw a brand-new 65mm camera at the BSC being introduced. on the lab front there were two companies, Kodak and Cinelabs offering their services. Last year 6 million feet of film was shot professionally. Whilst that is nothing compared to the old days, it is enough to keep going. I'm sure this same conversation will crop up again in ten years time, just as it did ten years ago.

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But to the point .. digital now has the same DR as film..

Yea but does it really or are we limiting the dynamic range of film through the scanners we use to capture the image. There is no arguing the crisp blacks of digital are amazing, if you like underexposing, digital is the way. If you over-expose to get a more contrasty image, digital is not the way to go.

 

the image can be manipulated way more that film..

I shoot and edit more film today then I've ever expected and our scans aren't the best. Yet during the initial scan, there is so much more data there then digital. I've always been shocked how much recovery in the scanner I can do. Literally shots that are 8 stops + over exposed in the highlights (by accident) have detail. That's not possible with digital at all. Once you over-drive the imagers pre-amp's, your image is toast.

 

Big crew, lots of effort to make the image perfect with monitors on set, fine... digital looks great. Little to no crew, no time and gorilla filmmaking style, it's a toss up.

 

I would guess 98% of TV is shot digital .. and 100 % of corporate ..

Yea I mean what's the point? The cost to shoot film is silly for television and corporate. I for sure wouldn't bother. Nobody is going to care in the long run and most industrial/corporate films have a super short life span anyway.

 

but you have to be living under a rock to not see that globally.. there is absolutely no denying ..film is on the way out..

Film died in 2013 when Kodak filed bankruptcy. Since that date, film has been on the rise again. Rental houses are re-buying cameras. There is a whole movement of new technicians servicing film cameras. There are more professional film cameras in the hands of people like me, who rent them to young people who wish to shoot film, then ever before.

 

It's hard to see these things if you aren't here, so at least I give ya some credit, nobody cares about old technology in Japan. Fuji sure doesn't, they closed down all their film manufacturing, it's just not cost effective. Still, Europe and America has been having a renaissance and the amount of shows being shot on film, commercial or consumer, is increasing. Will we ever get back to the pre 2013 days of shooting on film? I doubt it, but it's not dead.

 

Ya gotta remember something. Economics have nothing to do with passion. If a passionate filmmaker wants to shoot on film, nobody is going to say no if it's cost effective and funny enough, it really isn't that expensive at all. People make a big stink out of it, but reality is the cost is just down to efficiency. If you shoot like most digital shows do, endless forever takes, ya it's going to cost a lot to shoot on film. If you get into the 12 - 10:1 ratio's, it's very doable.

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Last year 6 million feet of film was shot professionally.

In europe! In the world, Kodak had their best year for over a decade.

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Yes no doubt there are the people who love film.. there are people who are nuts about valve radios.. and steam engines.. and I think that's a very good thing.. but they dont make them anymore.. its the film business.. not the film passion.. I hate to break the bad news but yes.. it is all about money.. down to the last cent.. I agree it could be a niche market for many years.. maybe only 65mm .. there are still vinyl record shops.. (actually huge ones in Japan) but they are all old records.. but you can't shoot without the film.. and the labs.. there is a reason fuji stopped making film.. they dont give a flying melting banana about DR ,film weave.. or Chris Nolan,s a great guy... they just see ¥en signs.. and really I,d say the board of Kodak is the same.. these are business people not film fans..at the pointy end ..

 

And purely artistically .. yes Beta SP was not as good as 16mm.. your grandmother could see that.. but thats all changed now.. every one shoots log or Raw.. (better to over expose FYI) Cineon goes well beyond 14.5 stops.. its only sensors that is holding that back.. REC 2020 is around the corner.. sensors are advancing by the month ..thats where the changes will come.. its the way forward there is no doubt.. I know I bang on about Roger Deakins.. but wow if ever there was an example of a film guy who was not scared of the new.. and embraced it to full potential .. who has said himself he often cant tell.. I mean there is hardly any need for more proof if the best living DoP on the planet says it.. no ?

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I don't know. I think there are some assumptions being made about "progress". Many tend to assume a progressive outlook on life ... things advance. However I think that very sentiment is becoming outdated. Evolution? Everything evolving all the time? Good God that's a boring idea.

 

Some things are just cool. They stick around. Thank heavens.

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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I don't know. I think there are some assumptions being made about "progress". Many tend to assume a progressive outlook on life ... things advance. However I think that very sentiment is becoming outdated. Evolution? Everything evolving all the time? Good God that's a boring idea.

 

Some things are just cool. They stick around. Thank heavens.

 

 

I think your reading a bit too much into it Jon.. :).. its just economics and the march of technical progress.. but yes everything does evolve all the time .. what's boring would be that it doesn't .. not that it does ..

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After years of decline, film seems to have stabilized into a fairly reliable, if niche market. It's bounced back from the low points, and more people seem to be using film, both still and moving, than was the case a couple of years ago. Left alone, I think the market would remain profitable for many years.

 

Any problems are likely to come from outside forces, which may have little or nothing to do with film itself, such as Kodak's ongoing liabilities to its pension fund and the financial horse trading that's going on behind the scenes. Just last week, it was reported that Kodak Alaris is up for sale. It's a profitable business, but who knows what the new owners will do with it?

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Yes no doubt there are the people who love film.. there are people who are nuts about valve radios.. and steam engines..

Guilty as charged.

 

But valve radio's and steam trains are more nostalgic/historical, rather than practical. If manufacturing of film stopped entirely, if all the labs closed, then yes film would turn into something more nostalgic. As a side note, they still make tubes, record players AND there have been 2 completely new from the ground up steam engines made in the last two decades. So yea... umm, if there is a will, there is a way.

 

I hate to break the bad news but yes.. it is all about money.. down to the last cent..

Well yea, but when you hit a certain threshold, film isn't that much more than digital. Film camera rental is less expensive, no DIT or video village crew, people take shooting on film more seriously so they shoot less AND actors tend to perform better. Then in post production, with fewer takes, editing takes less time. With an image that's easier to grade, color takes less time as well. So the costs of your stock, processing and transfer, sure it's going to be more than digital. However, if you actually do the math on paper, it's not much more, especially with low ratio's like 12:1 or 10:1.

 

there are still vinyl record shops.. (actually huge ones in Japan) but they are all old records..

Here stateside it's hard to find old records that are inexpensive and readily available. Nearly every record in the store is a new pressing and there are thousands of them. Out of my collection, I have probably 8 original pressings and around 50 new pressings. The new pressings are far superior because back in the day, the record companies got 1/2 15ips 4th generation reel to reel tapes of the "masters". Today, the mastering is done in 24bit 192khz uncompressed, using extremely high end D/A converters and much better compressing tools to make sure the maximum amount of information is cutting the groove. Plus positive masters are used less and re-made on a regular basis to keep the pressings sounding better. This push towards vinyl is exactly the same thing that's happening in the film industry. New labs are starting up, new film companies, new camera companies, in the next 5 years film will be just like vinyl, with a slew of options from around the globe.

 

but you can't shoot without the film.. and the labs.. there is a reason fuji stopped making film.. they dont give a flying melting banana about DR ,film weave.. or Chris Nolan,s a great guy... they just see ¥en signs.. and really I,d say the board of Kodak is the same.. these are business people not film fans..at the pointy end ..

The truth about Fuji is that Kodak snuffed them out. The studio's signed multi-year contracts with Kodak to keep them afloat and Fuji was left on the vine. How do you make money in a monopoly? Fuji decided to close down their factory because they literally had no market. They kept the black and white division up until the end of 2017, but with fewer separation and restoration prints being made, even that closed down. There is a growing movement to bring Fuji back however. The Chinese have invested quite a bit of money in building a film manufacturing facility so I've been told through the grapevine. What they will be making, who knows.

 

its only sensors that is holding that back..

You're right that codec's are pretty solid. However, it's not just imagers holding us back. It's also the gross expense of post production at high resolution. To manage 50 - 100TB of 6 - 8k raw camera media, playing it back in real time with what, dozens of power windows per frame, is a cost that only a few facilities can manage. To me, that PLUS how to store digital for long term, are two huge issues we have not resolved. The studio's themselves are spending $7,000 per title, per year on storing the master files on LTO tape. So far 12 features shot on digital cameras have been lost and the 35mm separation masters are the only things that remain. Yet the studio's are cutting back on making separation masters because of the cost. So we're living in a time where archivists 50+ years from now, will have basically no way to restore movies back to the way they were seen originally. We're looking at a time where a click of a button and you've lost all of your valuable work. Where a little card that fits in your jacket pocket, holds your entire shoot data. If you calculated how much lost data there is across the globe thanks to digital technology, I think you'd see the number is pretty high and that number isn't getting better. It's only getting worse as solid state media prices plummet and now we can fit even more data onto each disk. It's a never ending battle between how many gigs do you wanna loose.

 

As a cinematographer who works for other people, knowing where your product is in 50 years is probably of least concern. As a professional filmmaker, I care about where my product is long after I'm dead. I can't control digital, but I can control film. It costs $200/month to store around 50,000ft of 35mm film (basically 50 boxes on shelves) in a building that's secure and fire resistant. Yes, we've had a lot of vault fires, we've lost a lot of movies. However, many of them were clearly purposely set for insurance purposes and luckily many of the IP's and IN's were saved, even if the camera negatives were destroyed. Our film stock today is also a lot better and non flammable. There is no denying storing and archiving digital is a problem and film is a very cost effective solution.

 

I know I bang on about Roger Deakins.. but wow if ever there was an example of a film guy who was not scared of the new.. and embraced it to full potential .. who has said himself he often cant tell.. I mean there is hardly any need for more proof if the best living DoP on the planet says it.. no ?

Roger doesn't like film, he never has. He had an issue with sleepless nights, waiting for dailies and not being happy with them. With digital, he can see the shot on set and know exactly what he has. It's then down to the DIT crew to insure it's safe travel, so he can sleep without worry.

 

Lets face it, when ya shoot film, there are a lot of sleepless nights because you really never know what you're going to get. Sometimes ya get back from the lab and it's a problem, but most of the time it's fine. Roger also stated that Kodak and the labs consistency was weining. Tho I've physically seen no evidence of that. Yes Fotokem botched the 15/70 prints of Dunkirk, but the 5/70 prints of Dunkirk and Phantom Thread looked amazing. So yea it's not a perfect science and Roger doesn't like that. He wants perfection and rightly so, who doesn't.

 

I personally don't like the look of digital cinema very much. There are times it looks good, but most of the time it looks plastic. When ya watch film prints all the time like I do, it's not hard to see all the qualities that reside within them. Does anyone really care about them? Maybe? But it's about marketing/advertising to make people care.

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Any problems are likely to come from outside forces, which may have little or nothing to do with film itself, such as Kodak's ongoing liabilities to its pension fund and the financial horse trading that's going on behind the scenes. Just last week, it was reported that Kodak Alaris is up for sale. It's a profitable business, but who knows what the new owners will do with it?

As far as EK is concerned, Alaris is just a customer for stills film. It doesn't have anything to do with MP products. Alaris effectively just licenses the brand.

But I agree, if EK were to lose Alaris' business it would be hurt, just as any business losing a big customer would be. But the impact would be indirect.

I don't know about EK's pension fund, but Alaris is owned by the Kodak UK pension fund KPP, and it's for sale because KPP can't reduce its deficit and is about to go into our government pension protection scheme. To be eligible for that it has to realise the best possible price for its asset, which is the stills film business.

Edited by Mark Dunn

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I agree, if EK were to lose Alaris' business it would be hurt, just as any business losing a big customer would be. But the impact would be indirect.

 

My point is that the resurgence of the Still Film industry has had a benefit on the Movie Film industry, as it's all manufactured by EK in the same plants, and the technologies feed into one another. Take the still market away from EK, and who knows what kind of effect that would have on the motion picture imaging division. Is one profitable without the other?

 

I don't think it's likely that Alaris would cease to be a Kodak customer, after all, who else can they turn to to make "Kodak" products, but there have been many strange decisions made over the years by those involved with Kodak...

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Here's another aspect to consider. The current younger generations are, from what I've seen and heard, very interested in art, and the more traditional techniques/tools for producing it, even though of course they're an extremely computer-savvy group and are heavily into games and phones/apps etc, but there seems to be enormous interest among them for photochemical film. They are a more artistically informed generation than earlier ones. This is because, in a sense, knowledge has increased generally. As they age they will likely develop further discernment and 'culture'. I see the current love affair with digital cameras as not necessarily growing exponentially much further. I think it will level out and interest in film will grow. As it seems to be doing. Keep those film cameras.

 

Plus, there's a factor that people sometimes forget in the race to higher tech. There's prestige in a 35mm feature production. There just is. That will never go away.

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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