First Trailer for Film vs. Digital Doc SIDE BY SIDE Featuring Interviews with Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, and More

     January 18, 2012


A little over a week ago, a curious little documentary was announced called Side by Side. The project, spearheaded by Keanu Reeves, features interviews with a number of master filmmakers regarding the film vs. digital debate. Now the first trailer for the film has popped up and Side by Side is officially one of my most anticipated movies of 2012. The trailer showcases Reeves having candid conversations about the death of film (and the advent of 3D) with people like George Lucas, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, and Steven Soderbergh. It looks incredibly intriguing, and I can’t wait to hear today’s foremost filmmakers weigh in on the future of moviemaking.

Hit the jump to watch the trailer. Side by Side will be released sometime this year.

Trailer courtesy of James on Screens (via The Playlist):

  • darrin

    i know this isnt based on a comic or a novel or a game, but did anyone else geeked out when they saw this trailer or am I the only one

    • Louis

      You’re not the only one!

      • Mike

        Totally geeking out.

  • Bonobo

    Very interesting. I really hope they have Tarantino somewhere in there, as he is probably the most prominent director to take a hard never-ever-going-to-do-it stance on digital recording (the he is so vehement about it that I guess it goes far beyond any rational, let alone technical, argument for film – he is just deeply emotionally attached to celluloid (or polyester, or whatever it’s made of these nowadays).

  • Mike

    Some days I think James Cameron might be the worst human on Earth.

    • Mark

      And then you see George Lucas….

      • justin

        STFU, both of you.

      • MisterEd

        Oh great… we got a couple of fugitives from “Ain’t It Cool news” here.

        With their characteristic hatred for Lucas, Cameron or some other successful film maker that somehow destroyed their childhood.

      • Bradley

        You’re right MisterEd, you’re absolutely right. The reason we dislike Lucas isn’t because he substituted stylistic visuals in the place of dynamic characters and plots that enthralled. It’s not that he paved the way for movies such as Transformers that were hollow and racist to become major mainstream successes. It’s that he made me sad about things that made me happy as a kid.

  • Bill

    Is that Larry/Lana Wachowski in the picture next to Scorsese?

  • Mars

    I’m guessing Chris Nolan is gonna sit there loathing about how terrible he thinks digital is for an hour because he only likes the same old conventional methods.

    • tom

      haha he certainly seemed to be the only one still using film

      • Nick

        Is that a bad thing?

      • tom

        Nick, not at all. i was merely pointing it out

    • JandS

      How facetious.

    • sed

      Steven Speilberg still prefers to shoot on film. He only did tintin because it was a cg motion cap movie.

  • Bonobo

    Very Interesting. I really hope Tarantino gets a say in this film, as he is probably the most prominent director to take a hard absolutely-never-ever-gonna-do-it stance on digital recording (besides having no love for digital projection – though his love for film probably goes beyond any rational, let alone technical, argument – he just has a unquestioning love for and emotional attachment to celluloid (or acetate, as they use nowadays).

    I do belief that no one will be shooting film in ten years time, and by then (sooner, most likely) film won’t be able to claim any technical, measurable superiority. But there is always that unbeatable, culturally conditioned, warm “feel” of film…

  • 3rsSt

    It’s just like what was stated in the trailer. Digital film “democratizes the entire film making business.” Digital technology allows us ALL to be film makers because it drastically slashes the amount of money it takes to shoot a film. It’s also more accessible / user friendly, as one of the interviewees said. The monopoly Hollywood has had on making movies and their distribution is crumbling FAST with the dawn of digital technology and the internet. It seems so many industry elites can’t accept the fact that this power is slipping through their hands no matter what they do. Get on board guys or be left behind.

    • MisterEd

      Well that maybe true from the point of view of the people wanting to make movies.

      But from the point of view of someone that watches films, I think going digital is indeed the best option.

      I would be watching an old movie or even one from the 80s (like Gremlins for instance) and in most cases, I’m having to deal with a very grainy film. Even watching a remastered version on Bluray, you still notice a lot of damage on the film. And that certainly takes away from the experience. Since that damage can be very distracting.

      Yet none of that happens with movies made digitally.

      Decades from now, movies made using digital technology will look exactly like they did on day one. No need to spend thousands or even millions of dollars restoring it, like it happens today with film-based movies.

      I understand that some directors love film. Tarantino’s whole movie style depends on that particular ‘dated look’ that only gets better with age. But that doesn’t work too well for most movies made using film. With age, they lose a lot of their luster.

      And with more and more people watching movies at home using HDTV sets, the demand for pristine looking movies will only increase.

      Therefore, digital is the way to go.

      • Agent_Black

        It’s a fair point however you’re comparing an old medium that has existed for decades to something relatively new. You don’t know what the long term effects of digital technology will be… obsolescence, degradation, pixelisation. The DVD is already making way for Blu-ray. Even now I watch digital TV on my 42″ screen and some of the channels are piss poor quality as my ‘new’ tv exposes the poor digital streams. I’m not saying your wrong, we just don’t know.

        I liked all of David Lynch’s movies prior to Inland Empire because they looked luscious and had a beautiful cinematic quality whereas Inland Empire looked awful and I couldn’t concentrate on story because I was too distracted by the picture which looked too real, documentary like or resembled a cheap, Australian soap opera. Ultimately, I hated that film because of that.

      • Agent_Black

        PS – I think it depends on the film-maker and the movie

      • Jamjumetley

        I must admit I like grainy (of course to a certain point) picture.

  • Mavro

    Tarantino is supremely superstitious. That has a lot to do with it. He doesn’t even use a video village onset. Doesn’t allow anything digital on set. Camera phones confiscated and everything.

  • excpired

    This is semi-interesting, by and far the most interesting debate will be between those who like digital for its 3D capabilities and those who like it for other reasons, or see other advents to it in the future.

    Personally I think 3D is disgusting, at least right now. The glasses strain my eyes, detract from the enjoyment of the film, take away from any real good feeling I can derive from a movie and make it a cheap trick. Avatar did a decent job of calming some of those issues, but after seeing several films since in 3D both post-converted and filmed in 3D I can honestly say that 3D is not at the place where I’d feel good about seeing it like that in theaters, and I would not go to movie theater ever if all films were in 3D.

    So unless 3D really improves vastly, its not worth the extra money, the strain on my eyes, and the blochy look it gives a film anyways.

  • Northern Star

    35mm has a richness and texture that digital still cannot replicate (it’s a repeat of the old vinyl vs. compact disc argument), but digital has a sharpness and vividity that is simply astonishing, plus it frees up filmmakers to do high-quality images quicker and more cost-effectively. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but it’s nice to have the choice if you’re a director…

    • Dirk Diggler

      “th have their advantages and disadvantages, but it’s nice to have the choice if you’re a director…”
      Exactly. For some reason I think this documentary is just going to be a pissing contest between all these egos, arguing why their medium of choice is “better”. This really shouldn’t even be a discussion. Filmmaking is an art form. You wouldn’t tell a painter what paint to paint with, so why tell a filmmaker what to film with? A director should have the right to use whatever he or she thinks is best. The studios don’t necessarily want to hear that though. They want everything to be 3D and digital so that they can make more money with the ticket inflation and spend less money because you don’t need to make a film print for a digital movie. All you have to do is make a DCP and that can be copied thousands of times for a fraction of the cost.

  • James Ramirez

    The sad fact of the matter is that very soon filmmakers WON’T have a choice. Digital will be the only form of cinema. All that digital can do is try to replicate the look of film. Whenever I see something shot digitally (with a few exceptions) I feel somewhat cheated out of my cinematic film going experience. Nine times out of ten shooting your movie digitally will give it a cheap, amatuerish “I couldn’t afford to shoot my movie on film” kind of quality.

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  • Scott McClaRIN

    your grandchilden’s grandchildren will still be able to enjoy a Tarantino film in all its glory. Film is more stable and cheaper to store.

    Film = Quality with greater Tonal range and FAR greater Archival survivability and you can’t Hack a DCP with film you simply have to posess a physical copy which will go up in value over time!

    Digital = mass marketed Macdonalds instant gratification of Imagery aquisition. Besides any security code can be hacked.

    the studios could care less about movie longevity, the public theatres should care about longevity of their product but they too only care about the fast buck as well.

    somewhere someday there will be a market for showing classic reel movies in a theatre venue. imagine “Gone With the Wind” on bigscreen, or any humphrey bogart / Lauren Bacall movie could still being a crowd of enthusiasts and that income could be more long term so long as the remasters can be made and used from the originals.