Film is a dying medium, brutally cut short by the advent of digital technology. Purists still swear by it, but almost all major companies involved in the business of image-making have moved on to digital, except for a few. No one knows how long we can continue to photograph or film on celluloid. Some hope it will return while others say that it will be shut down completely.
Buying film is a difficult venture, whether it is for still images or motion picture. A shop selling film rolls is rare to come by— perhaps a rare shop in a city will still be selling rolls at premium prices. From being something every common man could access, only enthusiasts, professionals and students able to spend on film and the added costs that go with processing it, can now afford to buy it.
A whole generation of photographers started photographing on film cameras and then moved to digital. As the years have passed, it has become more difficult to buy film and to process it. It has become increasingly difficult to find chemicals required to process film. Professionals, amateurs and hobbyists alike talk of how exciting it was to wait for a film to be “washed” at the photo studio; to see it after days, making the event of viewing the final photos all the more exciting. Nostalgia, however, doesn’t necessarily translate into choosing the medium that gave us beautiful, timeless images.
The vestiges of the celluloid medium that still remain—projection systems, printers, cameras and editing machines—have become almost obsolete. Some day they will be placed in a museum or sold as scrap, and their legacy will end. Most technicians who worked with the film medium are now retiring, and for most of them digital is a foreign concept, and the process of filmmaking is only that which is created through film.
Why film and digital cannot co-exist, allowing people to choose a medium for their art is a big question. If a painter cannot choose to paint with oil paints or pencils, whatever he may prefer, since that is something which can now be done on a graphics tablet, his style is restricted. It is the same for all art forms. Digital is a democratic medium, making ‘processing’ a thing of the past.