Famed DP Expresses Doubts About Infastructure for 35mm Stock

Scarlett Johansson and Josh Brolin in Hail, Caesar!

Kodak won't be sending Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, CBE, any valentines this year — not following comments he made to Variety reporter Kristopher Tapley about his aversion to shooting 35mm film.

"It's fine," he responded when asked about his anxiety level when shooting film for Joel and Ethan Coen's new Hail, Caesar! (pictured, top of page), but then elaborated:

We did have some problems. We had some stock issues and stuff like that, which was really disconcerting. And I’ve heard that’s happened to a lot of people lately, you know — stock and lab problems. That’s unnerving. I mean, I never really remember having those kind of problems before. But it makes me nervous now. I don’t want to do that again, frankly. I don’t think the infrastructure’s there.

Deakins did say that when working with the Coens he'd be willing to shoot one of their movies on anything from film to a cell phone — which is the bottom line for any cinematographer hoping to collaborate with a favored director. But he made his point again: "As I say, just the technical problems with film, I'm sorry, it's over."

The negative remarks come after Hollywood's concerted effort to keep Kodak's film production lines running, with supply agreements brokered with six studios at the urging of directors including Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino. And film still has artistic credibility — DP Robert Richardson, ASC, earned an Oscar nomination for shooting Tarantino's The Hateful Eight in 65mm anamorphic, as did Edward Lachman, ASC, for shooting director Todd Haynes' Carol on Super 16.

Moreover, there is renewed interest in exhibiting film, with rumblings that Warner Bros. may be considering a 70mm release of the shot-on-film Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice. And given their past preferences, it seems likely that film-friendly directors Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson must already be in the planning stages of yet-to-be-announced but high-profile film projects. Let's see what happens in 2016 to keep all those once-abandoned film projectors brought back into service for The Hateful Eight from gathering dust.