Side by side by side

Published May 14, 2013

A couple of weeks on from watching Mission to Lars, Mr C and I settled down to watch another documentary film. This time, it was Side By Side - a film in which Keanu Reeves talks to a lot of directors, cinematographers, producers, actors and the like about the evolution from film to digital when it comes to making movies.

Once again I didn’t think I was going to like it, so I was reading stuff on my iPad rather than paying attention. I wanted to see what it was like, because, you know, Keanu Reeves, but I didn’t think it would suck me in the same way Lars did. Thankfully, I was right this time. I picked up some bits and pieces here and there, and was half-listening for most of it, but I wasn’t in tears by the end.

So that’s something.

Here are a few things I learned from Side by Side:

  • The word pixels is a shortened version of picture elements. Who knew?
  • Reeves was really good at chatting to the people, seemed to have good notes and asked the right questions. He is not so good at the voiceover part.
  • Christopher Nolan went way down in my estimation. There were, naturally, arguments both for and against the move towards digital filmmaking. Both sides had a lot of good points, and both tended to be open towards the discussion. Nolan came across as a total film snob.
  • The Wachowski Brothers are no longer The Wachowski Brothers because one of them has become a woman.
  • Danny Boyle’s accent seemed totally normal during all the Olympics stuff. In amongst all these Hollywood types, it may just be the best thing in the world.
  • Storage is a problem for both media. Film has to be in a specific container at a specific temperature else it will rot. Digital is more hardy, but you have to pack away a player with each archive, because the formats change so much.
  • Manufacturers have stopped making film cameras.
  • The concept of the “dailies”. Where they would extract the day’s work from a film camera, and piece it together for the director to see. Now they don’t need to wait to see it, and can reshoot on demand if necessary. Although I wonder if there is something to be said for looking at the shots with fresh eyes. Kind of like walking away from a first draft for a few days and returning to it later.

It was an interesting film, particularly as the transition to all-things-digital is something we have focused on over the last few years. It opened my eyes to a few of the benefits I hadn’t realised of film, but equally made me happy to hear those who were enthusiastic about the promise of digital.

If this has sparked your interest at all, here’s the trailer, with nowhere near enough Keanu.

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