Beyond the Camera (Digital Film-making Vs Celluloid Film)

Although our first collective feature film isn’t fully completed yet, a couple of us have already begun shooting new films. However, this time we’ve opted to go for a much rawer and natural method of production.

Our film’s up until now have all been shot with professional equipment, and while cinema rigs, multiple lenses and boom mics have allowed us a lot of creative freedom when working as a collective, they don’t lend themselves much to lone shooting.

Matt is currently shooting on a consumer camcorder for his film, and I’ve gone for an even smaller, pocket camera to shoot mine. This isn’t a competition to see how good our films can be with a crappy camera. It’s purely about using the right tool for the situation.

I remember speaking to Cristi Puiu back in June, where he mentioned that he doesn’t care what is used to make the film (we were talking about shooting digital or film) it’s simply a tool to use, just as a painter would choose to use oils, water colours etc. There is such a profound truth to this, which I only fully understand now.

The film I’m currently making is loosely based around distorted memories, and requires me to shoot things people see everyday in all sorts of situations. So I caught the underground the other day, while I was in Rome, and saw something I thought would compose nicely on camera.

As returning the following week with a cinema rig was out of the question, I reached for my pocket camera and started shooting. The beauty of it was that it was ‘in the moment’ and not setup. This is using the right tool for the situation.

Of course just as shooting with large unwieldy equipment has its drawbacks, so does this method, but if you know what you want, it’s not an issue. The situation I’m faced with now however is hours of footage, and a mass jigsaw puzzle that needs assembling.


– Manjeet S. Gill

Manjeet S. Gill


Film maker and writer for the Black Country Cinema collective. My work often revolves around Asians living in contemporary Britain. Main influences include Ozu, Koreeda and Hou.

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