Updated: Jul 12
All right! This is the last post in the “A Look Into The Industry” series! I’m excited because this one discusses the art form of film. What that means is we’re going to be looking at how different elements of the film production process affects the style and look of a film, to make it a piece of art.
Now, I’ve already mentioned before that film is both an industry for business and an art form, but it depends on who you talk to, and what films you’re watching which one is which. I’ve written it in a previous post, and if you haven’t checked it out, check it out now!
Also, if you’d like to check out why films are also stories, check out here too:
Ok, so you’re all caught up, right? Today, we’re looking at what makes up the art form of film production. What that means is, there are two different aspects of film. You have the Film FORM and the Film STYLE. These are two completely different things, and as Bordwell and Thompson (2010) explain, Film FORM is the form in which you create a movie, so the physical reel of film, used by vintage cameras, or the digital formats that you find all over the place. While Film STYLE is the way in which the filming process make up the “final cut” of a film. That means taking into consideration the way in which the film process, from development and pre-production to post-production and exhibition, give the story in the film the artistic expressions it has.
That’s a very theoretical way of putting it right? Don’t worry, I’ll go over this in a little more detail, so you’ll understand it a little better. And yes, I will be referencing Bordwell and Thompson pretty much throughout this article (or essay really), because their book Film Art: An Introduction (Ninth Edition) has the best references to what each aspect of film is. So, expect their names to come up every now and then. Anyway, let’s move on.
Film Form – The Physical Or The Digital
Ok, so let’s look at Film FORM. It’s exactly as you see it, “form” literally means a version of something. So, film form means the form in which the film was made. There are literally only two forms of film:
Physical and Digital
The physical form is literally called film because that’s what it was. When it was first made, film was literally a long transparent plastic ribbon, coated with chemicals that would be sensitive to light so it could imprint an image onto small frames in succession, to create the illusion of a moving picture, once passed through a projector (Abreu, 2020).
Now, there’s a whole science behind the illusion that these frames create, but I won’t bore you with it. Essentially, the physical reel of film is a form in which films are made. It was the original form, since computer technology, and digital technology didn’t exist at the time. It was used throughout the entire 20th Century, even as the digital form of film began to develop.
Today, most, if not all, film production companies no longer use physical film reels since it’s easier to use digital technology to film. You can shoot as many takes as you want, you won’t lose any shot, because they’re all stored on memory cards and hard drives, and there is very little risk of damaging the images that have been taken, even if the camera itself is damaged.
This is where we start talking about the digital form of film. Generally, you’d think that there is only one form of digital film, but have you ever used one of those professional cameras yourselves? Have you seen what formats they use? Have you ever come across these file extensions…
…To name a few? These are all digital formats of film, and depending on what type of camera you’ve used, or what type of software you edit with, some of these formats will be unusable. Why? Because some of these digital formats are either old and redundant or will only work with certain technologies because the brands, who made them, wanted them to only be used by their technology. Basically, it’s a trap for filmmakers to pay a franchise or business, to make the film they want to make.
Most of the time, there are cameras, computers, software, and other technologies that will let these different formats be compatible with each other. But sometimes, if you’re shooting with a certain format, it can be a headache to find compatible technologies, especially if you’re using outdated hardware, with updated software (I should know, I’m working with an 8-year-old laptop).
Essentially, film form defines what a film is made with, whether it’s the old-school physical reel, or with digital technology. Both have their pros and cons, but that doesn’t stop filmmakers from achieving perfection with the resource.
Film Style – Artistic Expression
This one is a very heavy topic, and we will discuss it in later posts, but for now, let’s look at what Film Style is overall. It is essentially the artistic expression in the film, by its filmmakers (and when I say “filmmakers” I mean everyone from the producers, to the production runners, from the cast and their personal assistants). The artistic expression in the film is defined throughout the filmmaking process. It begins from the development of the film, to the exhibition.
What this means is the way the film looks, as in what we see on the screen, is defined throughout the process from the moment the filmmaker decided to make the film, to the moment we see it and fall in love with it. For example, I love Labyrinth (1986), which was originally conceived by Jim Henson, and yet it took many people to actually make the film, including its main stars Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie. Even George Lucas helped out at one point.
However, the film style is unique, because it uses both puppetry and live acting to make the story believable, and it is one of the first, if not the first, film to use a fully digital CGI animal. But the artistic expression goes even past what you see in the film, it extends to the inspiration that made the film and the inspiration that the film gives to those who watch it.
So, film style is all about the way the film looks and the way the film process develops that look. It’s essentially the thing that makes you love a film, the moment you watch it. The rest of it is what influenced the film’s look, and enhances that film’s unique style.
Welcome To The Industry
Ok, so there’s still so much more to learn about film production and film theory, but we can discover that later. For now, I hope I’ve given you guys a good overview of what the film industry is about. As a film theorist (from my academic experience), I know that there is more to film production and the film industry than what you see in those DVD features, those behind-the-scenes exposures and the interviews the cast and crew give. It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of research, a lot of world-building and a lot of practice to create a film that everyone will love. Of course, not everyone will love every film that’s made, and even if they don’t at least they’re talking about it, but that is a story for another time.
Well, that’s it from me today, I’ll see you guys next time. For now, don’t forget to like, subscribe and follow for more updates and the latest posts here on Feather’s Charm and on my social media accounts. Oh, and share these posts with family and friends, those who you’d think might enjoy these topics and tips! I’ll see you later!
Bordwell, D, Thompson, K, (2010) Film Art: An Introduction (Ninth Edition), McGraw Hill, New York
Abreu, R, (2020), What is Celluloid Film — A Brief History of Motion Picture Film, [Online], Available at: https://www.studiobinder.com/blog/what-is-celluloid-film-stock/ [Accessed 27th April 2021]
Image Source: Oleksinski, J, Behind-The-Scenes Secrets From Bowie's Classic Cult 'Labyrinth', [Online], Available at: https://nypost.com/2018/04/26/behind-the-scenes-secrets-from-bowies-cult-classic-labyrinth/ [Accessed: 27th April 2021]