Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK VS. THE TWILIGHT HOUR OF FILM

Hulk mourns the waning days of film.

Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK VS. THE TWILIGHT HOUR OF FILM

THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL... FILM IS DYING.

LAST WEEK DEVIN HAD A GREAT TAKE ON A RECENT L.A. WEEKLY ARTICLE WHICH EXPOSED THE SIGNIFICANT, OFTEN-UNSUNG PROBLEMS OF THE INDUSTRY'S RUSH TOWARD THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION. IT SPAWNED A LOT OF GREAT INFORMATION, CONSCIOUS THOUGHT AND... ARGUMENTS.

YUP, IT SEEMS LIKE EVERY FEW WEEKS WE SEEM TO BE GETTING INTO AN ARGUMENT ABOUT THIS, FROM THE PREFERENCES OF EACH FORMAT, TO THE COMPLICATIONS, TO THE LOGISTICS OF COST. BUT THE TRUTH IS THAT NO MATTER HOW CONCRETE OR VALID THE PUSH-PULL OF THE FILM VS. DIGITAL DEBATE CAN SEEM, IT IS ULTIMATELY A MATTER OF TASTE. THAT MAY SOUND BELITTLING, BUT IT'S NOT MEANT TO BE. EVEN HULK FEELS PASSIONATELY ABOUT ONE SIDE OF THIS PARTICULAR ARGUMENT, BUT IT SHOULDN'T MATTER IN THE WAY THAT WE THINK IT MATTERS. IT SHOULDN'T BREED A WAR FOR THE FUTURE.

AND THAT IS BECAUSE IT IS AN INESCAPABLE FACT THAT THE NEBULOUS "PEOPLE IN CHARGE" HAVE MADE IT THEIR PREROGATIVE TO MOVE IN THE DIGITAL DIRECTION, WHETHER OR NOT IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO (RESULTS BE DAMNED) AND THAT'S WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.

WE CAN FIGHT IT. WE CAN STAVE IT OFF. WE CAN DO OUR BEST TO AUGMENT AND HANG ON. HULK TRIES TO HANG ON DESPERATELY IN WHATEVER CAPACITY HULK CAN, BUT IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.

SO WHAT ACTUALLY BOTHERS HULK IS THAT IN THE RUSH OF SOME PEOPLE TO ADAPT, TO EMBRACE AND TO SUBSEQUENTLY DECLARE A FORMAT "DEAD," WE ARE EFFECTIVELY DANCING ON THE GRAVE OF A MEDIUM THAT WE'VE BEEN LOVING FOR OVER 100 YEARS.

AND THAT JUST MAKES HULK PRETTY SAD.

NOT ONLY THAT THE FORMAT IS DYING, BUT THAT WE CAN'T EVEN SEEM TO MOURN IT CORRECTLY. WE JUST KEEP FALLING INTO THIS UNFORTUNATE ARGUMENT OF FILM VS. DIGITAL, AND THUS COMPLETELY MISSING THE POINT:

THE NEXT YEAR OR TWO WILL BE OUR LAST PROFESSIONAL CHANCE TO EVEN WORK WITH FILM.

SERIOUSLY. HULK NOT KIDDING. THE NUMBER OF TV SHOWS THAT JUMPED TO THE ALEXA IS STAGGERING. THE NUMBER FOR FEATURE FILMS EVEN MORE SO. SO UNLESS HULK IS CRAZY, DOESN'T THAT JUST MEAN WE SHOULD EMBRACE THE TIME WE HAVE LEFT? HECK, EVEN IF YOU'VE COME TO PREFER DIGITAL, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE LAST CHANCES TO WORK WITH IT HERE. SOON IT WON'T EVEN BE A CHOICE.

IT ALMOST SOUNDS LIKE HULK HAS SOME SORT OF REVERENCE OR AFFECTION FOR FILM THAT'S AKIN TO WHAT ONE HAS FOR A FAMILY MEMBER. WELL, IT SOUNDS LIKE THAT BECAUSE IT'S EXACTLY HOW HULK FEELS.

THAT'S BECAUSE LITTLE HULK GREW UP MAKING SUPER 8 HOME MOVIES. HULK REMEMBERS EVERY MOMENT. EVERY PROP. EVERY SILLY LITTLE PLOT (THEY WERE MOSTLY INDIANA JONES RIFFS). EVEN WHEN THE TIME CAME TO TRANSITION TO V/H/S CAMCORDERS AND EVENTUALLY HIGH 8, THERE WAS STILL SOMETHING MISSING IN THAT MAGICAL PROCESS OF FILM EXPOSURE. GONE WAS THE DEVELOPMENT. THE UNDERSTANDING. HULK HAD EVEN MADE A LITTLE HOMEMADE DARKROOM IN THE BASEMENT (MOSTLY USED FOR PHOTOGRAPHY) AND JUST WENT NUTS. AND IT'S NOT LIKE THIS EVER CHANGED FOR HULK. THE 35MM PHOTOGRAPHY OBSESSION STUCK (ALONG WITH A MIND-CRUSH ON RICHARD AVEDON. HULK TOOK PICS OF EVERYONE HULK KNEW WITH BRIGHT WHITE BACKGROUNDS). AND HELL, HULK ACTUALLY CUT COLLEGE FILMS ON A STEENBECK. YES, A STEENBECK. FOR THOSE OF YOU UNAWARE, YOU HAND-CUT FILM ON THEM WITH FUCKING TAPE AND THEY LOOKED LIKE THIS:

AND THEY WERE ALSO AWESOME. THEY BRED SPECIFICITY AND UNDERSTANDING. UNDOING A SINGLE CHANGE WAS A MAGNIFICENT PAIN IN THE ASS. THEY FORCED YOU TO BE SPECIFIC. IT'S HOW HULK DEFINED THE NATURE OF HOW FILMS ARE CONSTRUCTED.

THE POINT OF ALL OF THIS IS THAT HULK'S SENTIMENT GOES FAR BEYOND MERE AFFINITY. THE ENTIRE PROCESS WAS SO ABSOLUTELY INFORMATIVE OF HOW HULK CAME TO DEFINE THE MEDIUM. HULK WAS EFFECTIVELY STUDYING THE ART OF LIGHT, OR AS TARKOVSKY SO WONDERFULLY PUT IT, HULK WAS "SCULPTING IN TIME."

FILM ITSELF JUST HAD THIS WONDROUS ALCHEMY TO IT, AND EVEN IF IT WAS VERY MUCH BASED ON SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES (LIGHT, EXPOSURE, CHEMISTRY), THEY WERE THE SAME SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES THAT HAD BEEN IN PLACE AND USED FOR A HUNDRED YEARS. THERE WAS A SENSE OF MASTERY TO SHOOTING, EXPOSING AND DEVELOPING A ROLL OF FILM. AND NOW WE'VE GONE FROM TALKING ABOUT THE NATURE OF PHOTONS TO THE EVER-CHANGING SHAPE OF PIXELATION AND RENDERING. AND AGAIN, IT IS WITH ONLY SADNESS THAT HULK CAN THINK OF IT.

REALLY. PLEASE DO NOT MISTAKE THIS SENTIMENT FOR HULK'S BEING SOME SORT OF LUDDITE OR SOMETHING. THE CHANGE DOESN'T MAKE HULK ANGRY OR DESPONDENT... JUST WISTFUL. AND TO BE WHOLLY HONEST, HULK LOVED BEING ON THE FOREFRONT OF THE DIGITAL TRANSITION TOO (THANKFULLY AT A SOMEWHAT EARLY AGE, WHICH WAS TREMENDOUSLY ADVANTAGEOUS). HULK ACTUALLY FOUND THE BURGEONING DIGITAL FILMMAKING WORLD TO BE WHOLLY FASCINATING. AND HULK STILL FINDS IT FASCINATING. THE WAY WE ACTUALLY DEVELOPED THE LATEST EPIC RED /  ALEXA MODELS RANK AMONG SOME OF THE FINEST FEATS OF CAMERA ENGINEERING THAT HULK HAS EVER SEEN.

BUT WHAT IS SO IMPORTANT TO NOTE IS THAT WE HAVE COMPLETELY RESHAPED THE DEFINITION OF WHAT "TECHNICAL FILMMAKING" ACTUALLY MEANS. WE HAVE SHIFTED FROM A CENTURY-LONG ART TO EMBRACE AN EVER-CHANGING SCIENCE.

AND THAT TRANSITION NOT ONLY MATTERS TO THE MEDIUM, BUT THE KINDS OF PEOPLE IT WILL ATTRACT.

THE LA WEEKLY ARTICLE NOTED THAT "In the last ten years of digitality we've gone through twenty formats!" AND THEN IT WENT INTO WONDERFUL DETAIL OF HOW MUCH THAT DISRUPTS THE PROCESS OF STORAGE AND EXHIBITIION. BUT THE ARTICLE WAS STRANGELY LIGHT ON THE OCCUPATIONAL EFFECT OF THIS SHIFT. MEANING IT MISSES HOW THE BASIC SHAPE OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A "TECHNICAL FILMMAKER" HAS COMPLETELY SHIFTED FROM THE PURSUIT OF MASTERY TO BEING DEFINED BY OUR ABILITY TO ADAPT ON THE FLY.

FOR INSTANCE, THE RELATIONSHIP OF EDITORS TO ASSISTANT EDITORS REALLY DID ONCE HAVE A KIND OF ARTISAN AND APPRENTICE FEEL TO IT. SURE, THE ASSISTANT ALWAYS GOT THE BRUNT OF THE BUSY WORK, BUT IT WAS SOMETHING TANGIBLE. NOW THE MOST USEFUL ASSISTANT EDITORS ARE BASICALLY TECHNICAL TROUBLE-SHOOTERS: THOSE WHO HAVE THE TIME TO DEAL WITH CONSTANTLY CHANGING TECH ISSUES AND COMPUTER BUGS, SO THAT THE EDITOR CAN JUST DO THEIR DAMN JOB. AND IT WAS ACTUALLY HOLLYWOOD'S ARMY OF ASSISTANTS WHO HAD TO ADAPT TO THE STUNNING INCONGRUITIES ON THE ALEXA'S BULLSHIT. AND YES, THE ALEXA HAD A LOT OF EDITORIAL BULLSHIT THAT IT TOOK EVERYONE (MOSTLY ASSISTANTS) A YEAR TO CORRECT. (CATTY HULK-NOTE: SURE, CINEMATOGRAPHERS DELIGHT IN THE IMAGE THEY GET IN VIDEO VILLAGE, BUT MAKING IT LOOK LIKE THAT IN THE END RESULT IS SOMETHING DIFFERENT ALL TOGETHER).

AGAIN, THIS ISN'T TO PAINT A PICTURE OF ONE OPTION BEING BEING "BAD" AND ONE BEING "GOOD." THIS IS MERELY TO ACCENTUATE JUST HOW DEEPLY AFFECTING THE SHIFT OF NEEDED SKILL SETS CAN BE ON THE FINAL PRODUCT. DEVIN ONCE QUITE ACCURATELY HIGHLIGHTED THE CHANGE IN ATTITUDE WITH THE SHIFT FROM PRACTICAL EFFECTS ARTISANS TO CGI ARTISTS, WHICH ISN'T TO SAY THERE ISN'T ARTISTRY ON CGI BUT THAT THESE TWO WHOLLY UNIQUE CRAFTS USE ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SKILL SETS. AND THE CGI ARTISTS INHERENTLY HAVE TO BE 50% TECHNICIAN, ALWAYS ON THE MOVE WITH THE CHANGING NATURE OF THEIR OWN UNIQUE TECHNOCRACY.

SO THE POINT ISN'T THAT FILMMAKERS HAVE TO MERELY FOCUS ON CHANGE, IT'S THAT IT'S ALL FILMMAKERS SEEM TO BE DOING.

LEARNING MASTERY OF EQUIPMENT IS SOMETHING THAT TAKES TIME. CONRAD HALL WAS STILL LEARNING THE INTRICACIES OF THE ART OF LIGHT IN HIS TWILIGHT YEARS (AND JUST HAPPENED TO BE SHOOTING SOME OF HIS BEST FILMS TOO). BUT HULK WON'T HAVE ANOTHER FEW YEARS TO WORK OUT THE KINKS OF LIGHTING WITH THE ALEXA BECAUSE THERE WILL BE A NEW CAMERA ALL TOO SOON TO FIDDLE WITH AND WORK OUT ON THE FLY.

SORRY IF HULK GOING INTO TOO MUCH DETAIL HERE, ESPECIALLY AFTER SAYING "THE DEBATE OF DIGITAL VS. CGI" IS WORTHLESS, IT'S JUST THAT HULK MAY AS WELL THROW IN HULK'S TWO CENTS, PURELY IN AN EFFORT TO SHIFT THE CONVERSATION FROM RIGHT OR WRONG TO "LET'S MOURN SOMETHING WORTHY OF MOURNING."

LIKE ONE OF THE THINGS HULK FIND BOTHERSOME IS THE CONSTANT INSISTENCE THAT DIGITAL CAN LOOK "JUST AS GOOD AS FILM." ... IT CAN'T. YES, IT CAN LOOK JUST AS GOOD AS FILM IF YOU ARE LIGHTING YOUR FILM IN A VERY PARTICULAR WAY.  FOR INSTANCE, WHEN HULK ARGUE FOR USING FILM THERE IS THE CONSTANT REBUTTAL FROM HIGHER UPS THAT "FINCHER MAKES IT LOOK GOOD!" NO. FINCHER CAN MAKE ONE PARTICULAR DIGITAL AESTHETIC LOOK GOOD. BUT DO YOU REALIZE HOW TIRED HULK AND HOPEFULLY EVERYONE IS OF THE OVER-USE OF THAT SINGULAR AESTHETIC? YOU KNOW WHAT HULK TALKING ABOUT. THE GREENISH, SOFT LIGHT HUES WHICH ARE THE ONLY THING THAT CAN SOFTEN INHERENTLY CRUSHED BLACKS OF THE EPIC RED FOOTAGE? LOOK HOW MANY MUSIC VIDEOS LOOK THE EXACT SAME THESE DAYS. AND THAT'S BECAUSE THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE IT LOOK GOOD IS TO MAKE IT ALL LOOK GOOD IN THE SAME EXACT WAY, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER IT'S APPROPRIATE TO WHAT YOU'RE DOING. FOR INSTANCE, HULK'S FRIEND WAS ASKING TO USE FILM ON A PROJECT AND MET WITH THE "BUT FINCHER MAKES IT LOOK GOOD!" ARGUMENT... HE WAS HIRED TO SHOOT A FREAKIN' HIGH-KEY GLEE PROMO.

AND THE EPIC RED IS A REALLY GREAT CAMERA. DON'T GET HULK WRONG. BUT EVEN THE BELOVED ALEXA HAS A HOST OF PROBLEMS. FOR INSTANCE, THE ALEXA'S POST-COLOR CORRECTION PROCESS IS JUST A NIGHTMARE, FORGET ABOUT NOT BEING ABLE TO USE AVID (OR ELSE WORRY ABOUT THE POST-COLOR CORRECTION GAMMA SHIFT WHICH THEREFORE REQUIRES, YES, ANOTHER COLOR CORRECTION). YOU EVER WONDER THE REASON MOST TV SHOWS/VIDEOS/SHORTS SHOT ON THE ALEXA OPT FOR THAT WHITE, AIRY LOOK FOR ALL THEIR STUFF? IT'S BECAUSE IT'S THE ONLY WAY TO COLOR CORRECT WITH EVERYTHING COMING OUT PROPERLY EXPOSED. GOD HELP YOU IF YOU TRY TO SHOOT IT "LIKE FILM AESTHETIC."

DON'T BELIEVE HULK?

WATCH THE 2 ROCK OF AGES TRAILERS AT THE LINK (SHOT ON THE ALEXA AND MEANT TO CAPTURE ALL THE BLACKS/FLORESCENT TONES FILM IS AMAZING AT CAPTURING) AND NOTICE THE TWO DIFFERENT COLOR CORRECTIONS BETWEEN THE FIRST AND SECOND TRAILER.

TRAILER #1 IS BRIGHTLY COLORED NEON WITH PROPER BLACKS, YET THERE ISN'T A PROPERLY LIT FACE IN THE ENTIRE THING.

TRAILER #2 HAS CORRECTED THE PROPERLY-LIT FACE ISSUE AND YET TURNED THE ENTIRE THING INTO AN OVER-BLOWN NIGHTMARE.

AND THE REAL ANSWER IS UNLESS YOU EMBRACE THE WHITE / AIRY AESTHETIC THEN THERE IS NOTHING THAT WILL MAKE THIS MOVIE LOOK "RIGHT."

MEANWHILE? FILM CAN DO ANYTHING.

REALLY. IT CAN LOOK HOWEVER YOU WANT IT TO. IT HAS ENDLESS DEXTERITY. YOU CAN TAKE YOUR ARRI 35 MM CAMERA OF CHOICE, PICK THE CORRECT STOCK, LIGHT AND GO. THERE IS NO ACQUIESCING TO THE LIMITS OF YOUR CAMERA. THERE IS NO SINGULAR AESTHETIC TO THE CAMERA. SURE, IT'S MORE "EXPENSIVE" TO USE (DEPENDING ON YOUR PRODUCTION SIZE IT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE NOT THAT MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE) AND THE WORKFLOW ISN'T AS READY-MADE FOR THE CUT-RIGHT-NOW POST PROCESS. BUT FILM IS AS DEPENDABLE AS ANYTHING. AND THAT IS BECAUSE YOU ARE STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS; THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO FUELED THE INGENUITY AND ART OF FILMMAKING FOR THE CENTURY BEFORE YOU.

... BUT SINCE THIS IS AN ARGUMENT AFTER ALL, HULK POSITIVE THAT THERE ARE A MILLION EDITORS AND CINEMATOGRAPHERS OUT THERE WHO WILL DISAGREE. THAT'S FINE. EVERYONE IS SORT OF FIGURING THIS THING OUT TOGETHER. AND EVEN HULK HAS TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT FEW FILMMAKERS ARE REALLY AT THE FOREFRONT OF MAKING DIGITAL TRULY WORK (FROM WHAT HULK HAS SEEN OF JOSEPH KAHN'S DETENTION IT AESTHETICALLY LOOKS, WELL, AWESOME).

AND ANOTHER THING ABOUT FILM IS... YIKES. HULK GUESS THAT HULK CAN'T HELP BUT FALL INTO THE TRAP JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. EVEN HULK HAS TO REMEMBER: THIS ISN'T ABOUT THE ARGUMENT.

THIS IS ABOUT HOW WE WANT TO SAY GOODBYE.

WHEN LITTLE HULK'S GRANDFATHER WAS ON HIS DEATHBED, THE FAMILY DIDN'T ALL SIT AROUND AND ARGUE ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT HE WAS DYING. WE DIDN'T ARGUE OVER WHETHER OR NOT GRANDMA'S NEW BOYFRIEND WOULD BE BETTER. WE DIDN'T BARGAIN FOR MORE TIME (THOUGH THAT WOULD CERTAINLY BE UNDERSTANDABLE).

WE WERE JUST SAD. AND BECAUSE OF THAT WE SIMPLY CHERISHED THE TIME WE HAD LEFT.

FILM IS DYING. WHEN IT FINALLY DOES GO, ALL THE ARGUMENTS WON'T MATTER. WE WILL HAVE EFFECTIVELY CONCLUDED OUR WAR OVER A MATTER OF TASTE. AND HECK, ALL THE PROPONENTS OF DIGITAL CAN FEEL FREE TO THROW A PARADE ACROSS AMERICA WHEN IT DIES. THEY CAN FEEL FREE TO MOCK THE DINOSAURS WHO CLUNG TO THE OLD TECHNOLOGY LIKE BLIND IDIOTS. AFTER ALL, HISTORY IS VERY CLEAR ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE WHO DON'T ADAPT.

WE KNOW THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL.

THE TWILIGHT HOUR IS NOW.

WHICH IS EXACTLY WHY WE WANT TO WORK WITH FILM WHILE WE STILL HAVE TIME.

<3HULK

RANDOM ENDNOTES:

- IF YOU HAVE ANY, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MEMORIES OF WORKING WITH FILM BELOW.

- HULK'S SEEN MANY OF THE ARGUMENTS HULK MADE FOR THE PASSION AND VIABILITY OF FILM USED FOR THE ADVOCACY OF V/H/S TOO - HULK FULLY UNDERSTAND THE TACTILE NATURE OF LOVING THE MEDIUM THAT DEFINED HOW ONE LEARNED TO WATCHED MOVIES, BUT HULK'S PROBLEM STILL COME DOWN TO THE FACT THAT V/H/S JUST BUTCHERS THE ORIGINAL FORMAT OF THE DAMN STUFF (I.E. FILM)... SO IT ALL GOES BACK TO ORIGINAL FORMAT FOR HULK.

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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