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#1 Hrishikesh Jha

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Posted 11 September 2015 - 01:39 AM

 A film shot on 16mm may fail to get distribution if because of the cost of a blow up plus say 50 prints (for a limited theatrical distribution), doesn't look viable (ref. Miramax)

 

I ask because I was talking to a local distributor here on various aspects of finances. He said something which shocked me, discouraged me. He said I must shoot my feature on digital. If its 16/35mm, he personally won't buy it. I couldn't carry on the conversation on the phone but this got me worried. I want to shoot on film. Even though this will be my first film. I have done all the financial calculations of the use of stock usage. Digital(if I am renting a camera daily) will actually run more expensive.

 

 


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 September 2015 - 02:15 AM

Most distributors just want the final deliverable in the format they need, they won't pay for what it takes to get there -- or if they do, they take out the finishing costs from what they were going to pay you, so you're paying anyway.

 

I haven't heard of a distributor insisting on a shooting format, though some broadcast / cable markets don't want 16mm.  

 

But the distributor may want a DCP so you'll have to finish your film project to a digital format.  But it would be odd for a distributor to turn down a 35mm project on principle -- does that mean if J.J.Abrams offered him the new "Star Wars", he'd refuse to take it?  If your film had Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp in it but was shot in film, he'd turn it down?

 

I'd talk to another distributor.  Ultimately if the film is marketable and has a potential audience, then that's all that a distributor is interested in.  But don't forget to budget all the way out to a digital deliverable.

 

Hopefully Richard Boddington will weigh in, I'm sure he's talked to this Canadian distributor before.


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#3 Hrishikesh Jha

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Posted 11 September 2015 - 02:25 AM

Most distributors just want the final deliverable in the format they need, they won't pay for what it takes to get there -- or if they do, they take out the finishing costs from what they were going to pay you, so you're paying anyway.

 

I haven't heard of a distributor insisting on a shooting format, though some broadcast / cable markets don't want 16mm.  

 

But the distributor may want a DCP so you'll have to finish your film project to a digital format.  But it would be odd for a distributor to turn down a 35mm project on principle -- does that mean if J.J.Abrams offered him the new "Star Wars", he'd refuse to take it?  If your film had Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp in it but was shot in film, he'd turn it down?

 

I'd talk to another distributor.  Ultimately if the film is marketable and has a potential audience, then that's all that a distributor is interested in.  But don't forget to budget all the way out to a digital deliverable.

 

Hopefully Richard Boddington will weigh in, I'm sure he's talked to this Canadian distributor before.

 

 

Well yeah. I won't take names but he also happened to be a filmmaker and has an indepth knowledge of formats and films in general.

and he HATES film as a format so maybe that. Which is understandable, in Ottawa as students we were shown a 16mm camera as an antique, and shot stuff on P2.

 

I have one question which has always bugged me. Tarantino says that it is sad that films are being shot digitally and projected digitally.

I can understand the shot digitally bit. But what is the harm in shooting it on film and projecting it digitally? That's a whole different arena and that's more the theaters/distributors concern. Does film projection also look different? All the films I've seen are from DVDs. I can clearly make out a digitally shot film and a celluloid one.


Edited by Hrishikesh Jha, 11 September 2015 - 02:25 AM.

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#4 Phil Connolly

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Posted 11 September 2015 - 04:26 AM

I agree with David, I don't see how shooting on 35mm would impact distribution options - as long as you were able to do a quality DI and make a good digital master for DCP and TV.

 

16mm is more tricky as the extra grain doesn't compress well - many super 16 shot films don't look that great on TV channels or VOD services that use low bit rates. For that reason these outlets avoid 16mm and its a tougher sell. Its not that 16mm is banned totally(it is for some channels), just that it creates more potential problems and might need money spending on noise reduction etc... If you use really slow 16mm stocks and sharp lenses - then your film is going to survive broadcast compression better. 

 

But I can see how a distributor would push you away from 16mm, incase you shot in low light with fast stocks and came out with a grainy look. The film would then fail a broadcast tech QC and make sales more difficult. 16mm is tricky because it can be perfectly acceptable for HD broadcast, if shot well, with an high quality scan and post chain. 16mm is unforgiving, everything has to be perfect all the time. Digital and 35mm have more margin of error - a low light shot has more latitude to fix.

 

If your film is high profile enough tech QC matters less - when I worked at Channel 4 in the UK. I failed "Super Size Me" when I QC'ed it (4:3 NTSC Mini DV, cropped to 16:9, then standards converted to PAL) - it didn't meet our technical spec. Still we broadcasted it because the film was high profile enough that we could exempt the film and approve the broadcast. In the UK for instance OFCOM can technically fine you for poor technical standards, almost never happens. But when you transmit substandard material you have to have a reason. 

 

If you film wins awards at festivals and people want it, the shooting format doesn't matter so much. But if your film isn't so high profile and sales are more tricky then failing QC by shooting 16mm might reduce your sales potential.


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#5 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 11 September 2015 - 02:16 PM

The Academy nominated/winning films: 'The Wrestler', 'Hurt Locker', 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' and Emmy nominated/winning shows: 'Malcolm in the Middle' and 'The Walking Dead', were all originated on 16mm. So no, there are zero problems with making the format presentable.

Theaters don't project 35mm anymore, those days are long gone unfortunately. So there is no point to even discuss 35mm photochemical blow-up's as nobody is going to project them. Even as a master for the distribution company, they'd much rather have a digital file, takes up less space!

So now the problem lies in the quality of the digital file. This is really why anyone would reject something shot on film. A lot of smaller budget projects shot on film, can't afford to scan @ 4k and deliver a 4k master. In today's world that's what the distributors want. So when you talk to a distributor, it's really easy to say; "We're shooting on Super 16mm and will be delivering a 4k DCP and 4k MOV files for television." To the distributor that's music in their ears. For you however, it means some added expense.

I'm on the same boat you're on. I'm planning on shooting my feature narrative directorial debut on S16mm using 1.3x squeeze anamorphic lenses which create a perfect 2.40:1 aspect ratio. We're going to telecine all the negative at 1920x1080, edit the film on Avid in Pro Res and then go back to scan selects at 4k. We're also shooting MOST of the film with 50D, including many of the interiors (which have daylight in windows). This takes a bit more time due to setup and costs a bit more due to needing proper lighting. This actually raises the production budget substantially, but gives you a better result in the long run with a far cleaner negative.

I got my budget right in front of me and shooting in 16mm (vs 4k digital) costs an extra $40 - $50k, depending on how much stock you'll shoot (shooting ratio) and how long your final cut will be. When your entire budget is $100k or less, it's probably wise to shoot digitally unless everyone on set is donating their time and equipment for some food and credit. The other nice thing about digital is that you have instant results, so as a first time director, you can really make sure what you're shooting is acceptable before moving on.

Now, our budget is $265k and my guess is, it will go up another $20k or so before we shoot. I did all the math and on MY film, 16mm is costing us $50k. For 50k, I can buy a Blackmagic URSA Mini, cinema primes and all the ancillary equipment necessary to shoot not just this movie, but many more. So when you really look at the cost of shooting in 16mm, it doesn't make any logical sense. It's a completely irrational way to make a modern film, but the one thing it does that digital doesn't (besides have a phenomenal non-digital look) is give you some street credit. You tell people you shot digital and it's ho-hum, everyone does that. You tell someone you shot S16mm with anamorphic lenses and did a 4k finish, you get a lot more credit. It's disheartening that striking a 35mm print is so expensive, not just the photochemical blow-up process, but the licensing for digital sound track as well.

In the end, a films ability to be distributed comes down to star's draw, acting, script and directors ability to tell a story. The technical side of things is actually a very small portion of the over-all picture. People tend to focus too much on the technical aspects and not enough on what makes the film marketable. You have to run the festival circuit, you have to self distribute theatrically and once the film has good buzz, use VOD to capitalize on it. We're also hiring a full-time crew to shoot daily updates on production, to draw buzz that way. If the film is good, it will have legs without needing a distribution partner.
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#6 Bruce Greene

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Posted 11 September 2015 - 06:11 PM

I've co-produced a couple films where the distribution contract demanded 1920x1080 or higher camera original. We shot 720p/24 and delivered to them a 1920x1080 master. They never saw the difference and successfully sold the film worldwide.... :) Good luck!

Of course, at the premiere, on a very large screen, the most common question was: "Did you shoot on RED?"
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#7 Carl Looper

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Posted 11 September 2015 - 10:25 PM

I've just finished shooting 16mm film for a work.

 

I'm convinced that just the act of shouting out: "roll sound, roll camera , mark it, ... and ... action" converts a mediocre actor into an exceptional one.

 

C


Edited by Carl Looper, 11 September 2015 - 10:27 PM.

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#8 Mark Dunn

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Posted 12 September 2015 - 06:02 AM

 

 

 the act of shouting out: "roll sound, roll camera , mark it, ... and ... action" converts a mediocre actor into an exceptional one.

 

C

It concentrates minds to know that stock, process and print/transfer for that costs the best part of £10.

 



Edited by Mark Dunn, 12 September 2015 - 06:03 AM.

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#9 Mark Dunn

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Posted 12 September 2015 - 08:39 AM

 

It concentrates minds to know that stock, process and print/transfer for that costs the best part of £10.

 


 

... each take.


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#10 John E Clark

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Posted 14 September 2015 - 12:21 PM

I've just finished shooting 16mm film for a work.

 

I'm convinced that just the act of shouting out: "roll sound, roll camera , mark it, ... and ... action" converts a mediocre actor into an exceptional one.

 

C

 

Are you saying that when shooting 'digital' one does not perform this ritual oration of invocation?


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#11 Hrishikesh Jha

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Posted 31 March 2016 - 04:18 AM

 

Are you saying that when shooting 'digital' one does not perform this ritual oration of invocation?

 

I guess he meant they seem more prepared or diligent which is something I've heard from many people.


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