Monday, July 30, 2012

Film is dead. Long live film.

IMAX film negative. Copyright 2012 Company Films LLC.

Is it time to stop referring to movies as “films”? This is a question I’ve been pondering since June, when I read that movie studios will cease producing film prints for major markets by the end of 2013. At the very least, should we stop referring to new movies as films? In most cases, what we’re watching these days was recorded digitally – no celluloid involved. Hardly anything in theaters or on TV is “filmed” anymore; it’s recorded to hard drives. (There are exceptions, such as ABC’s Castle, which we noted here: So this leaves me wondering if we need a new term for digital movies, or if we just refer to them simply as “movies.”

My only hesitation is that, for as long as I can remember, I have differentiated between movies that simply were made for entertainment (“movies”) and those also made with the intent to educate, inform, document and, perhaps, change the world in some small way (“films”). How would I make this distinction in the future? Fast and Furious 20 certainly is not the same form of entertainment as March of the Penguins

I posed this question recently on Quora. (Please add your two cents: Chris Keath, director of production workflows at Current TV, was kind enough to answer. He said: “I see no need. ‘Movie’ and ‘Film’ are already more or less inter-changeable terms for a general public point of view. It may fall out of fashion over time, but I find the whole notion of being able to intentionally remove a common definition from the public lexicon to be pretty suspect.”

I am inclined to agree. For now, let’s leave well enough alone. I suppose we may not need an ideological push in the direction of referring to all films as movies; it may eventually happen without our consent. As our technologies change, so does our vocabulary. For example, we don’t tape our favorite music or TV programs anymore; we simply record them. And many people have taken to using the acronym DVR as a verb. (“I DVR’d that show so I can watch it later.”) So until we’re all DVR’ing documentary “movies” to our web-enabled wristwatches and eyeglasses, you can find me at the multiplex viewing the latest silent “film” from France. 

There are some in Hollywood looking to make a distinction as well – or least trying to make sense of how this digital transition will affect their business and their lives. For instance, actor Keanu Reeves produced a documentary titled Side by Side, which aims to investigate the history, process and workflow of both digital and photochemical film creation. According to the project's website (, "Through interviews with directors, cinematographers, film students, producers, technologists, editors, and exhibitors, Side by Side examines all aspects of filmmaking – from capture to edit, visual effects to color correction, distribution to archive. At this moment when digital and photochemical filmmaking coexist, Side by Side explores what has been gained, what is lost, and what the future might bring."

Monday, July 2, 2012

AFCI Locations Show 2012

The Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) hosted a great 2012 event in mid-June at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The annual show is designed to give the production community access to a vast range of incentives, production locations, and business and support services essential to the industry. This year, show organizers say the event featured more than $2.5 billion of incentives, services and support for film and television production. It also coincided with the opening weekend of Film Independent’s Los Angeles Film Festival.

Approximately 2,500 filmmakers and locations professionals were in attendance for Locations 2012, and they had the unique opportunity to engage with more than 170 film commissioners from more than 40 countries. The bottom line: If you're an independent producer or represent a small production company, the AFCI Locations Show is a must-attend. You'll make a lot of new contacts and you'll learn a great deal.

Those who attended this year can attest to the quality of the seminars and guest speakers. This year’s event offered 15 panel sessions and workshops featuring industry leaders, filmmakers and the creative teams behind some of the most talked-about films of the last two years, the AFCI says. I sat in on several sessions myself, including The Future of Film Incentives, a panel discussion about the next five years in film incentives may look like; and the LA Film Festival Keynote Speech, with Christopher McGurk, CEO of Cinedigm. He spoke about the future of independent film. I came away from both sessions thinking our industry has a very bright future.

Learn more about the show here: Perhaps I will see you there next year!