Wisdom and Perspective from David Mullen:
I think there is a bit of ego wrapped up in using technology, on all sides, whether digital or film. People want to perceive themselves as being ahead of the pack in some way or the other, or bigger or better or more artistic than their competitors. 10 years from now when everyone is shooting digital, and film is likely to be gone, there won't be anything to brag about by shooting digital, instead it will be something else that will be used to make oneself seem to be visionary and everyone else to be old-school.
"You're shooting 2D but I'm shooting 3D", "you're using a five-year-old camera but I'm using a camera that hasn't been released yet", etc. This will never end because people form emotional attachments to things, to pieces of technology. So for some reason, if their choice in technology becomes successful, it means they were "right" and somehow that makes them more successful or better, whatever. I just don't get it.
Technology keeps changing, making some things easier, faster, cheaper, whatever. That's great, and it's fun as well. But fundamentally, do important things change? Does art therefore become more meaningful, deeper, do human relationships improve across the planet, do we treat each other better because now we can control our TV set from our iPad or because the home movie we shoot with our friends on the weekend has the same resolution as "Lawrence of Arabia"? These are all just tools for artists, and tools are important as a means to an end, but they are not the end, the art is the end, the IDEAS are the end.
Last century, film was the primary tool for transforming visual ideas into concrete images; now it's becoming something else. Technical change is somewhat inevitable. But what I'm asking is how much that matters in the big picture so to speak. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Are the movies I have a choice to see this weekend fundamentally better than the ones I would have had to choose between on a December weekend in 1979 or 1939? After all, we've had digital tools for this past decade. So was "The Social Network" a fundamentally better movie because it was shot on the M-X Red One rather than in 35mm? I'm just asking for some perspective here. What does it really mean, or matter, if more Disney films this year are being shot in 3D Digital? Does it mean they will be better movies than what I saw a decade ago?
Technical innovation is important and helps enable creative ideas, but it's important to be honest about what technology is doing to the process, pro and con, by asking if some other technology had been used for a particular project, would the artistic intent have been lost, or merely altered cosmetically? Will Terence Malick's digital movies be "better" than his movies shot on film, or just different?