At a press conference at the Sundance Film Festival on Thursday, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow said he will shoot his upcoming movie Star Wars: Episode IX on film instead of digital. Trevorrow made the comments during a panel discussion on the ever popular film versus digital debate. Currently, many theaters across the country are switching over to digital projectors while studios are pushing directors away from shooting on film to embrace the now ubiquitous digital format.
The panel featured Trevorrow, fellow director and celluloid proponent Christopher Nolan, Fruitvale Station cinematographer Rachel Morrison, and director Alex Ross Perry.
Nolan, one of the loudest pro-film voices in the general debate other than big-time auteurs like Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson, attempted to shoot down the idea that the rise of digital filmmaking is due to the fact that digital is somehow cheaper than shooting on film.
Per Variety, Nolan called that notion a “corporate conspiracy” and “based on a culture around wanting to kill film.”
Nolan cited the waves of bad press Tarantino’s most recent film, The Hateful Eight, which was presented in 70mm film screenings that involved retooling outdated film projectors, got because of a string of poor technical problems during screenings. Nolan criticized commentators (Inverse included) for emphasizing “some little technical glitch as if it was his fault. As if he built the projector.”
But that hasn’t stopped Trevorrow from using the film format on the upcoming Star Wars sequel, who told the Sundance audience that filmmakers needed to emphasize the benefits of film because “there’s a danger to it turning into vinyl.” Trevorrow also shot Jurassic World on film as well.
Trevorrow reasoned that he should be obligated to shoot Star Wars on celluloid, saying, “There’s something in my brain that says, ‘well they didn’t have video cameras then,’” and continued by explaining, “It’s a period film. It happened a long time ago.”
Before you chide him for saying a sci-fi fantasy story is a period piece, remember that these movies have always begin with the title card “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” The inherent contradiction in Star Wars is that there’s a backwards nostalgia in the narratives of these movies that still use the newest cutting edge technology to create them. Trevorrow’s decision to follow in director J.J. Abrams’ footsteps in shooting the new Star Wars movies on film is another easy connection to the original trilogy. It’s a definitive move away from the overly digital and widely despised prequels. George Lucas’ prequel, Attack of the Clones, was the first Hollywood production to be shot digitally when it was released in 2002.
Film fans like Nolan and Trevorrow should feel safe that the biggest franchise in history is leading the way in keeping film alive.
Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled for release sometime in 2019.