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Side by Side (2012)

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Available on US Netflix

Is Digital movie production spoiling the charm and mystery of cinema?

Keanu Reeves investigates in this documentary the “science, art and impact of digital cinema” against tradition Film.

The documentary starts by introducing the debate between analogue vs digital productions. Figurehead cinematographers and directors explain their reasons for either welcoming or opposing Digital production. These interview snippets are consistent throughout the documentary; keeping the debate constant and balanced throughout.

Side by Side explains the science and processes behind developing film against the sensors involved in digital film production. These sequences are explained using 3D animation with perfect clarity; these scenes will serve as a reminder to us that know and teach those that don’t.

The documentary then progresses onto the introduction of Digital film production and its impact on independent cinema. Interviews with early digital film producers give an interesting viewpoint on the influx of film festival submissions. This rise in submissions is explained by the new accessibility to film production, particularly in terms of budget.

Side by Side also includes a brief introduction of the Dogme 69 film movement; with an original discussion with Dutch film director, Lars Von Trier. The contrast shown between independent and commercial film production will serve as an eye-opener to these very different but ultimately important differences.

We are then introduced to modern Digital film production equipment, such as the legendary RED 4K cameras. Still using interviews from popular film directors we are given an intelligent and professional view on this equipment; including their Pros and Cons.

The conclusive end to Side by Side leaves us wondering what the next step in film production could possibly be.

If you’re a Film lover, Filmmaker or enjoy learning “how it works” this documentary is certainly worth the 100 minutes. As a documentary film, Side by Side has fluent pacing and remains engaging throughout. The film revolves around contrast: Digital vs Film, Independent vs Commercial, Old vs New. The use of original, behind-the-scenes and older film footage works brilliantly with this narrative of contrast.