Six America-Based Filmmakers Who Still Shoot on Film

Paul Thomas Anderson: Film is dead. Or it seems that way: Film cameras are no longer being made, stock is hard to come by and even Martin Scorsese—in addition to Steven Soderbergh, David Lynch, David Fincher, Ridley Scott and many others—has succumbed to the throes of digital cinema. At this point, it’s a special event when a major filmmaker goes analogue. And if one required another reason to get antsy for PTA’s forthcoming The Master, there’s this: It was shot on Panavision Super 70.

Wes Anderson: For Moonrise Kingdom, his first film set in the past (1965, specifically), the other great Anderson (sorry, Paul W.S. Anderson) turned to Super 16mm, whose natural grain is a perfect fit for a look this drunk on yellows and blues. Unfortunately, the proliferation of digital projection means it’s hard to see in its intended format. Make sure you know you’re seeing it projected on film.

Rian Johnson: Quentin Tarantino and Darren Aronofsky sticking with 35mm is a no-brainer; a youngish upstart like the director of BrickThe Brothers Bloom and the forthcoming Looper means simply impeccable taste.

Christopher Nolan: While many are banking on 3-D as cinema’s future, others turn to another longtime gimmick: IMAX. And to really take advantage of the format, you need the high resolution of film, not some digital Xerox. Brad Bird earmarked 30 minutes of IMAX footage for Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol. Nolan doubled down: The Dark Knight Rises includes a full hour, with the rest “settling” for film.

Alex Ross Perry: Despite all the hoopla about how digital cinema makes moviemaking more affordable, some genuine independents still prefer to spring for celluloid. Andrew Bujalski shot his first three features (at least) on grainy 16mm, and Matthew Porterfield (Putty Hill) saves up for film. In his new The Color Wheel, Perry summons a bygone era of cheap B&W 16mm filmmaking, and the ramshackle beauty that comes with it.

Steven Spielberg: While waiting for his wholly digital The Adventures of Tintin to render on computers, Spielberg went and paid reverence to the past: His war saga is so dedicated to being old fashioned that it was even lensed in glorious 35mm.

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