In January 2012, things could not have looked worse for Kodak. After 123 years of filmmaking, the company, created by George Eastman, had applied for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and looked destined for ultimate failure. Surprisingly, though, Kodak was able to stay on its feet and continue production a little over a year and a half later behind the supervision of Chief Executive Jeff Clarke.
Despite its perseverance, Kodak faced challenges from ever-improving and cheaper technologies. Film, which had been Kodak’s bread-and-butter for so many years, was falling to the wayside, being replaced by cheaper, lighter, and easier-to-access forms of HD technology. Thanks to the hard work and generous words of multiple directors and film agencies, however, Kodak is in the final stages of cementing agreements to keep film a part of the movie industry for years to come:
“After extensive discussions with filmmakers, leading studios and others who recognize the unique artistic and archival qualities of film, we intend to continue production. Kodak thanks these industry leaders for their support and ingenuity in finding a way to extend the life of film,” stated Kodak Chief Executive Jeff Clarke.
Among those directors who voiced their opinions in support of Kodak and its continued production of film were Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams Judd Apatow, and Martin Scorsese. Today, Scorsese released a statement expressing why his continued support of film as a medium is so important to the movie industry:
We have many names for what we do – cinema, movies, motion pictures. And…film. We’re called directors, but more often we’re called filmmakers. Filmmakers. I’m not suggesting that we ignore the obvious: HD isn’t coming, it’s here. The advantages are numerous: the cameras are lighter, it’s much easier to shoot at night, we have many more means at our disposal for altering and perfecting our images. And, the cameras are more affordable: films really can be made now for very little money. Even those of us still shooting on film finish in HD, and our movies are projected in HD. So, we could easily agree that the future is here, that film is cumbersome and imperfect and difficult to transport and prone to wear and decay, and that it’s time to forget the past and say goodbye – really, that could be easily done. Too easily.
It seems like we’re always being reminded that film is, after all, a business. But film is also an art form, and young people who are driven to make films should have access to the tools and materials that were the building blocks of that art form. Would anyone dream of telling young artists to throw away their paints and canvases because iPads are so much easier to carry? Of course not. In the history of motion pictures, only a minuscule percentage of the works comprising our art form was not shot on film. Everything we do in HD is an effort to recreate the look of film. Film, even now, offers a richer visual palette than HD. And, we have to remember that film is still the best and only time-proven way to preserve movies. We have no assurance that digital informaton (sic) will last, but we know that film will, if properly stored and cared for.
Our industry – our filmmakers – rallied behind Kodak because we knew that we couldn’t afford to lose them, the way we’ve lost so many other film stocks. This news is a positive step towards preserving film, the art form we love.
— Indiewire (@indiewire) August 4, 2014
Due to pledges to continue to support film as a medium from directors such as Scorsese, and from commitments from Warner Bros, Universal, Paramount, Disney, and Weinstein Co. to buy certain amounts of film in the upcoming years, Kodak has agreed to produce 450M linear feet of film over the next year.
The only question that remains at this point is whether or not Scorsese will film his latest project, Silence, on film. The movie has been in Scorsese’s mind since 1989 and is based on a 1966 novel of the same name from Japanese writer Shusaku Endo. The novel discusses the fate of two Jesuit priests as they travel to Japan to discover the whereabouts of their mentor and spread the word of Christianity to the Far East. Scorsese’s adaptation of the novel will star Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver and is set to be released in late 2015.
Image via Wikimedia Commons