'Florida Project' Director Sean Baker Urges Filmmakers to Keep Shooting on Celluloid

Sean Baker, Alexis Zabe, Edgar Wright, and Bill Pope - Publicity - H 2018
Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Kodak

Filmmakers including Sean Baker, Dee Rees and Edgar Wright on Thursday night called on celluloid fans to keep film alive during Kodak’s Motion Picture and Entertainment division’s 2nd Annual Kodak Auteur Awards at Crossroads Kitchen in Los Angeles.

Baker, who shot The Florida Project on film, testified, “I’m an advocate of all mediums — it’s a larger canvas for us as artists — but we have to keep in mind that celluloid film is what created this wonderful art form, and we have to keep it alive.

“It’s perhaps our duty right now to talk to our producers, to talk to our financiers, talk to our studios, and demand shooting on film,” he continued, to applause from the capacity crowd.

Digital cinematography is widely used in Hollywood today, but during the pre-Oscars celebration, Kodak’s president of motion picture and entertainment Steve Bellamy said that film use is on the rise, with nine of the Oscar-nominated movies — including Baby Driver, Call Me by Your Name, Dunkirk and The Florida Project — using celluloid for production. He added that 22 Spirit Award nominees, up from 10 a year ago, were lensed on celluloid.

During the evening, Kodak also honored four directors —  Baker, Edgar Wright, Luca Guadagnino and Dee Rees — who “are unyielding in their artistic process and who Kodak believes will be making cinematic masterpieces for decades to come.”

Several of the honorees and presenters used the event to urge support for film’s continued use.

Accepting his award from Baby Driver cinematographer Bill Pope, Wright said he chooses film from a creative standpoint, but added, “I believe it’s cheaper to shoot on film [than with digital cameras] because with digital, people spend so much money in the grade trying to make it look like film. I think that’s a false economy, because you can make it look a lot like film by shooting it on film. Not that I have anything against digital — I think every medium should be its own thing.”

Mudbound helmer Rees, whose award was presented by producer Cassian Elwes, made her Oscar-nominated film with digital cameras, though she said, “For all you celluloid lovers, the limiting factor now is not the film, it’s the processing. So you’ve got to get Fotokem in the conversation. You’ve got to get Deluxe in the conversation. You’ve got to get the processing to less than a dollar a foot — and we could have shot Mudbound on film.”

Baker was presented his award by his Florida Project DP Alexis Sabe, while Call Me by Your Name helmer Guadagnino received his trophy from James Grey.