The following is an e-mail I received back in April 2013 from Molly Thomas, a young actress that appeared in our short film, Threat to Society, as Priscilla. She was doing research for a film related school project and sent me a set of questions. I thought I'd share since it provides some insight...
April 25, 2013
Aztek Studio Films
Dear Mr. Nava:
I am a middle school student in Berkeley, California and would like to ask your opinions for my research project on the differences between film and digital cinematography for motion pictures.
I have prepared a list of specific questions where your input would be greatly appreciated. Several goals of my research is to understand if movie viewers can see a difference in a movie depending on how it was filmed and how the director, cinematographer, actors, and other people working on the film feel about the two different methods and what they prefer. I also have some questions targeted specifically at being a young filmmaker.
My questions are listed below. Thank you in advance for your time and knowledge. I cannot wait to add your answers to my research!
THE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS + MY ANSWERS
1. As a young filmmaker, do you prefer shooting with film or digitally?
Digitally, because it is cheaper and faster to work with and a good digital colorist can actually add film grain to your film to make it look like it was shot on film (if preferred for artistic purposes).
2. Not having as high of a budget as Hollywood movies, what advantages does shooting digitally provide you?
It is much more accessible nowadays to make films digitally and not have to spend so much on cameras, film rolls, and film development. Even with the simple, pocket-sized 720p HD Flip Cam, a kid can go out, shoot, upload the digital files to their computer, and edit their movie on provided software such as iMovie on Macs or Windows Movie Maker on PC’s!
3. Digital cameras are much cheaper and easier to handle than film cameras, have you ever been faced with a time when you were able to shoot something with digital that you wouldn’t have been able to do with film?
I want to say all the time! With time constraints and deadlines, who wants to shoot on film and not be able to play it back immediately? You have to send it out to the lab, wait to have it developed, and not see what you have until you get the footage back.
4. While shooting Threat to Society, there were many shots from interesting places, such as from inside the car, a convenience store, and running through the street. Do you think that you would have been able to get those shots with a film camera?
Yes, it would have been possible.
5. When writing a script, do you have a certain method of shooting in mind before hand?
I start editing in my head ahead of time and imagine how each scene can be shot.
6. Have you ever worked with film before? If so, how is it different from working with digital?
No, I started filming my short films on my parents’ videotape camcorder and moved on to digital camcorders as I got older and they became more available.
7. Do you ever want to work with film someday?
Yes, it would be an interesting challenge for me. It would be cool to say that I shot on film at least once.
8. How would working with your crew be different if you were shooting a movie on film?
We would have to be more careful not exposing the film to light, be more conservative with the film rolls, and we would have to trust our cinematography team with the shots since instant playback is impossible.
9. Of the films that you have done, do you wish any of them had been shot on film?
I have to say that shooting digitally is just much more convenient than shooting on film, so I would have to say no.
10. What directors and filmmakers do you look up to and why?
Robert Rodriguez taught me that I am a filmmaker, not that I want to be a filmmaker. His work has inspired me to learn every aspect of filmmaking and be a rebel to get the job done. I also look up to all the established directors such as James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Brian de Palma, Christopher Nolan, and many more - their life stories and body of work are very inspiring.
11. As an actor as well, how does shooting with a digital camera affect your performance?
It affects it in a major way because I can see my performance right after each take and see what I can change in the next. It is very convenient.