In the digital age, I find myself back in the analog world. Who the hell would go back to using a medium that is slow to process and is only useable once? (in that you can only record once and then have to send off in the post). Although pedants will argue that you can do multiple exposures on the same film, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole today. If you’re Quentin Tarantino and JJ Abrahams, you can afford to use the traditional method of celluloid to make your creative dreams a reality. Most people use digital because you can do multiple takes and get instant results. This is why I switched from film to digital in the first place. So why on earth would you go back to it? What’s the appeal? This is where you expect me to draw some kind of conclusion. Well, the question isn’t which is better but rather, why film?
When we’re discussing visual stimulation and filmmaking, everything we use is a mere tool to achieve our creative goals and to engage the audience. Sometimes digital is the right format. You want to produce something cinematic in a shorter space of time, perhaps for a short deadline, with digital, you can achieve all of this. But if you have the time and a bit of money, using film can make your production stand out. Even if it is only for a few scenes, within a digital piece, it can lift the production value. To the viewer, once you start using 35mm it becomes more difficult to tell celluloid from pixels but using 16mm and 8mm are much more noticeable. I’m not going to go into an essay here in this post regarding the differences of each size of film formats, except to say that in terms of ease of use, for Super 8, you just pop in a cartridge and off you go filming. In this respect, it makes Super 8 a great starting point for getting into larger formats later on.
Like most people pre-digital, I learned how to use film photography growing up. I never had anything complicated to start with. My grandfather eventually gave me an Olympus camera that he had finished with and showed me how he put together family films using his trusty Bell and Howell Super 8 Autoload 308 Cine Camera. I was hooked on Super 8 filming. I eventually ditched the film in favour of digital cameras. However, about 20 years later I am now back using this technology. Now trained and professionally qualified, I intend to use my current skills to revisit the fun and visually appealing world of film and put my creative energies into producing content that people will find enjoyable and helpful and perhaps introduce a new generation to the possibilities of Super 8 and beyond.