The 16-mm magic reel

Nov 06, 2018, 08:27 IST | Snigdha Hasan

A city-based initiative offers filmmakers and cinematographers who have never shot on film an opportunity to get a taste of the medium

The 16-mm magic reel

When filmmakers in India switched to the digital medium sometime between 2008 and '13, the swiftness of the process was a welcome change. But what tipped the scales in favour of the new technology was the cost factor — the need to replenish physical film every time it got wasted because of a bad shot or other ambient conditions was no longer a worry. Closer home, contrast the deliberation that went into taking a photo on your roll-wala camera with the countless pictures on your cell phone of the same moment.

But you would also perhaps agree that those were the days when a badly captured image was sacrilegious. So, each one of the 36 photos was worth its place in the family album. This discipline that the physical medium calls for is why some filmmakers, including the critically acclaimed Christopher Nolan, still shoot on film, while many others are rediscovering its magic.

Karan Talwar (seated), who has shot several projects on film, conducts a workshop
Karan Talwar (seated), who has shot several projects on film, conducts a workshop

To give a taste of the medium to those who have never shot on film, Harkat Studios in collaboration with a leading photography company is facilitating the production of five one-minute silent 16mm films. Those interested can send their script extending not more than one page, and five selected participants will get 50 feet of 500T Kodak stock, a 16mm camera, and processing and scanning facilities. Participants will have to be available on the day of the shoot, on December 9 in Mumbai.

"The idea is to [help filmmakers and cinematographers] recognise the fact that the making of a film is also about the medium and not just what you want to say," says Harkat co-founder and filmmaker Karan Talwar. "Film is such a magical medium; in the brief moments of pause when the used film is replaced with new, it gives you time to reflect on what, why and how you are shooting.

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