Keanu Reeves Documentary SIDE BY SIDE Tackles Film vs. Digital Debate; Includes Interviews with Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, and David Fincher

     January 9, 2012

A curious little website has popped up announcing a new documentary produced by Keanu Reeves that tackles one of the foremost issues facing filmmakers today: the advent of digital filmmaking. Entitled Side by Side, the documentary takes an in-depth look at the issue of film vs. digital, and “examines all aspects of filmmaking – from capture, to edit, to visual effects, to color correction, to distribution to archive.” Through interviews with numerous well-respected masters of the medium, Side by Side “explores what has been gained, what is lost and what the future might bring.” Take this sample quote from Christopher Nolan:

“No credible source really has been claiming to have invented something that is aesthetically superior to film at this point.”

The documentary will feature Reeves interviewing filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Lana and Andy Wachowski, George Lucas, James Cameron, Steven Soderbergh, and many more. Hit the jump for more details.

While the website is currently only one page, it includes a few interesting pull quotes from some of the filmmakers Reeves has spoken with. The Matrix co-director Lana Wachowski says:

“Digital cameras are the new aesthetic…and at the same time we are going to mourn in the loss of film.”

Predictably, George Lucas also has some pro-digital thoughts to share:

“It’s magic now. It’s just, whatever you can think of, you can do, and that’s the whole idea.”

The list of interviewees also includes David Lynch, Lars von Trier, Robert Rodriguez, Danny Boyle, Lena Dunham, Greta Gerwig, and director of photography Wally Pfister (The Dark Knight, Inception). Needless to say, I’m incredibly interested to check this thing out. With the increasing frequency of 3D and the fact that most multiplexes are converting to digital projectors, the “film vs. digital” debate is more relevant now than ever. The future of filmmaking is at a turning point, and Reeves has rounded up a stellar group of filmmakers to discuss the issue at hand. No official release date is given, but the website claims that Side by Side is “Coming in 2012”, so hopefully we’ll get to see it sometime this year.


Around The Web
  • varagor

    What about actually posting the link to the film’s site?

    • joe kerr

  • charlie

    Uhh, Greta Gerwig? Am I the only one who thinks shes extremely out of place here?

    • abe

      Mumblecore shoots on digital, for the most part.

  • henri

    I like both,they both have strengths.

  • Angmal

    Lana Wachowski, eh? It’ll be interesting to see at last what she looks and sounds like these days…

    • Stephen Staunton

      She’s pictured in that little banner at the bottom of the article, opposite Scorsese.

  • Angmal

    So she is, thanks. But I meant video footage – we’ve seen an occasional still before. Nice to see that she’s found the confidence to be interviewed and photographed since such a significant life change. Now let’s hope that if Wachowski is happier in her personal life, the quality of her films will improve a bit…

    • aaronsullivan

      But Speed Racer was awesome. I’m serious, too.

      • Sam

        Seconded. Never seen a movie like it.

  • KJ

    Keanu Reeves is such an awesome star. He is always doing interesting and surprising stuff. This documentary sounds fascinating.

  • abe

    “No credible source really has been claiming to have invented something aesthetically superior to film at this point.” – C. Nolan


    I’m sure he elaborates on it in the doc, but I wonder: how can a credible-source-slash-inventor ever really claim aesthetic superiority? By doing so, wouldn’t they be taking credit from those who best used their invention in the making of their aesthetically superior films? And who are these credible-source-slash-inventors who could conceivably make such a claim, anyway?

    Those who evaluate aesthetics for a living — critics, academics, industry pros — have been impressed by Fincher/Cronenweth’s work in The Social Network and Dragon Tattoo, both shot on RED. Is it aesthetically superior to The Godfather? Maybe not, but do we need to wait for the Gordon Willis of Digital to show up before making the transition?

    I have no problem with Nolan using film, by the way. He can use it forever. I agree with Scorsese’s quote completely.

  • Sandy

    Love documentaries! I think he’s talent will shine through in this format. Hope they plan on doing more docs – there are so many subjects waiting to be explored.

  • Tina

    Website’s been expanded – has a few pages now and a twitter feed…

    This is an interesting topic and a doco I would probably see anyway, with or without the KR ref (although it absolutely worked… that’s how I found this article so can’t complain!). Can’t see Australiasia on the release list… that’s OK… it’s not like Aus has a thriving mainstream & arthouse movie industry or engaged audiences or anything…

    • Tina

      Sydney Film Festival, 6-17 June 2012, deadline for submissions 27 Feb ’12.


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  • ztmatos

    This is an Anthropological look!

  • Marcus

    David Fincher was one of the first pioneers of digital film-making. Nuff’ Said.

  • Peter Walukiewicz

    I started as a Motion Picture projectionist, way back in 1980. I trained on a 70mm print of “The Empire Strikes Back.” Nothing compares to a good 35mm or 70mm film presentation. Steven Speilberg over-ruled George Lucas on “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the crystal skull”, when he insisted on shooting it on 35mm stock, instead of digital. Christopher Nolan stuck to his guns, and “The Dark Knight rising” was also shot in 35mm. I was part of the TAP (Theater Alignment Program) from Lucasfilm in the 80′s and into the1990′s. If you kept your projection booth in good shape, the quality of the 35/70mm presentation was assured. Most ‘traditional’ projectionists, have lost their jobs, as the result of Digital. After devoting your entire life to ‘putting on a good show’, this is how Hollywood thanks them? If motion picture film goes away, I will wait for the DVD/Blu-Ray release. How can you call it a ‘Film by Ridley Scott’, if no film is used in the process?…..Popcorn, anyone?