I am constantly hearing people say that working with film is really expensive so they have had to use digital instead; Clearly the high cost of film puts many off film, but are people simply dismissing the film option by making excuses that it’s too expensive and jumping on the digital bandwagon! There is certainly a growing trend amongst filmmakers choosing digital seeing it as the cheaper and easier option, but is digital always cheaper or easier? Digital offers the convenience of immediacy and the common belief is that it’s cheap, there seems to be an overwhelming tendency to just go with the flow, whereas film is seen as messy, cumbersome and old fashioned. I know film is expensive, but exactly how expensive is16mm?
Personally I feel if you want to work with 16mm you can, as it's still a very viable option, cameras are small and cheap and film is still being made. You have to work differently as there's no immediacy and if you're working to a small budget you haven't got the luxury to have a large shooting ratio as you might have with digital. You can even use an old 16mm camera, which can be bought for a few pounds and use it with modern film and get stunning results. 16mm cameras are easy to borrow [for free] and cheap to buy or rent, film stock is the only real expense, but it doesn’t have to be, as it depends on where you buy it from. I used to buy film from Fujifilm, it was very cheap, but they have stopped making film, Fujifilm is still available in the UK from Frame 24 and it is still quite cheap, I also buy film from DP's and even off Ebay at very good prices. Typically a 400 foot core of 16mm can be bought for £30.00 or less, that's about 11 or 14 minutes of screen time (24 or 18 frames per second), processing and digital scanning can be about £150.00. So using 16mm which is either 11 or 14 minutes can cost me under £200.00, it's not as expensive as everyone makes out.
High end digital systems like the Alexa and RED are difficult to get for free, they are expensive to buy and rent, a typical weekly rental package of RED or Alexa is normally in excess of £2000.00. Thus in my experience working with such high end digital systems can be more expensive than working with 16mm. Digital only becomes cheaper when working with pro-consumer systems such as the DSLR's, [unless you get the high end digital gear for free]. The quality from a DSLR is remarkably good and many try to make it look like film, though I don’t think this works well. In my opinion while the DSLR images look great on large television screens they don't always look so great on a large cinema screens.