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PM (Manila Time) | December 17, 2001
By Rachel Nalus
Inquirer News Service
THE DIGITAL revolution is upon us and it’s changing the face of cinema
as we know it. It’s modifying the rules of the game and allowing those
little players in the sidelines a crack at their big break. Now, film
rookies, indie directors, and major studio players can jostle it out in the
Digital filmmaking first entered the scene in 1996 on the heels of exciting
technological innovations. Film mavericks caught the digital vibe, churning
out well-made films shot on digital cameras that are smaller and cheaper
than the typical 35mm camera. It heralded a new, radical era in filmmaking,
a movement tagged as the Digital Revolution.
Technology provided filmmakers with powerful new tools that allowed them to
create high-quality films on a low budget. Nowadays, renegade filmmakers are
shooting images and recording sound with digital video cameras, and using
the latest software to edit, mix and create special effects on home
This stripped-down, bare-bones approach to making films is a far cry from
the dominant Hollywood paradigm of huge production bills and expensive,
bulky cameras. The arrival of affordable Digital Video (DV) camcorders has
created unprecedented ultra-low-budget production possibilities.
Beyond the low budgets and new cameras, what the digital revolution really
means for the average man dreaming of becoming the next Lino Brocka or plain
tired of the run-of-the-mill cineplex fare, is a crack at making the movie
he’s always wanted to do or see. Anyone can be a filmmaker. The digital
medium amplifies the possibilities for those who have no access to
professional, accepted filmmaking techniques and equipment, or those who
simply cannot afford to shoot in 35mm, or even in 16mm.
Speaking before a Cannes Film Festival forum, Iranian filmmaker Samira
Makhmalbaf remarked about this significant implication of the digital
revolution: “Twenty years ago, if someone wanted to enter the profession
of filmmaking she would have been asked if she knew its technique. If she
did not, she would have been told that she was illiterate about half of the
art. Some 20 years later, the only question she needs to answer is if she
Free from the burden of financing and figures, more than at any time in the
history of film, filmmakers can own and control the means of production and
post-production. Digital also allows filmmakers, whether first-timers or
experienced, to experiment with the art form and perfect the craft.
With DV, a filmmaker can shoot more footage, or shoot again and again until
he makes its right, at very minimal cost. Something you cannot do with
traditional film stock which costs a thousand times more than a digital
The impact of digital production is also seen in the realism of the
performance. Small and unobtrusive, digital video has a markedly different
psychological effect on the performance. Compared to acting before a
traditional film camera with the unavoidable phalanx of assistants hovering
next to it, digital video liberates the actors.
Minus the gawking crew and obtrusiveness of the studio camera, actors
aren’t acting for the camera but for each other. The end result is a work
less make-believe and with a lot more realism and spontaneity.
The Digital Revolution has only just begun. Its other significant and
wide-ranging effects are yet to unravel. So hold on to your seats and keep
your eyes on the screen.
Digital is coming at you.
The very first digital film festival in the Philippines, “.MOV,” will
showcase some of the landmark films in the history of digital filmmaking,
including the works of Rob Nilsson, Kidlat Tahimik, Todd Verow, and Dogme
95. The festival will have its run on Jan. 23-30 at the Greenbelt Cinema 1,
Makati. Call Filmless Films at (+63 2) 433-3496, 921-8434, & firstname.lastname@example.org.
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