Top Directors Expound On Digital Cinema’s Creative Impact
NEW YORK: From the earliest days of the ‘talkies,’ feature film directors have both embraced and disparaged new technology. Side By Side, a new, documentary directed by Chris Kenneally and produced by Keanu Reeves, will profile contemporary auteurs’ insights on digital production at its Feb. 15 Berlin Film Festival premiere.
Featuring candid interviews with such icons as Martin Scorsese, James Cameron Christopher Nolan, George Lucas and Steven Soderbergh, the insightful 98 minute film explores the full range of technical and creative opportunities presented by a new generation of digital production and post-production tools. Kenneally explained, “I was post-production supervisor on a Keanu Reeves feature in 2010, and Keanu was fascinated by the interaction of the photochemical and digital components of the film. Side By Side evolved from those talks, and his enthusiasm was instrumental in setting the interviews.”
In the midst of their hectic shooting schedule, Kenneally set up offices in NYC’s Sixteen19 post-production services complex to prep the documentary for the Berlin Festival. “I’d worked on a number of projects with company principals Pete Conlin and Jonathan Hoffman,” he said. “I knew Sixteen19 was the right place for Side By Side.” Sixteen19’s Managing Director Claire Shanley added, “When Chris came to us to discuss workflow and finishing for a documentary about film technology, it felt like a perfect fit. for us. In addition to caring deeply about the subject, our team was ready for the project’s technical challenges.”
Kenneally added, “We had the benefit of advice from many Sixteen19 team members. They were invaluable in recommending interview candidates and helping us connect with some very busy people.” In November, 2010, Side by Side began a whirlwind schedule that took the crew from England to Poland to Morocco and Denmark and back to the U.S. Shooting in low light with little setup or prep time, Reeves, Kenneally, DP Chris Cassidy, and a lean crew shot interviews with a Panasonic HPX 170 and location beauty shots with a Canon 5D.
“Colorist Brian Boyd was a major asset in getting our disparate digital interview, location footage and archival clips, to match,” Kenneally explained, “All of our color correct needs were expertly addressed, and we were impressed with the results.” Brian Boyd reports the hours he spent conforming QuickTime files to Avid Media Composer and tweaking the footage were an almost ‘surreal education.’ “In addition to top directors, Kenneally and Reeves interviewed a number of leading cinematographers, editors and colorists,” he says. “Hearing their comments on the pros and cons of digital technology was fascinating. It was also terrific to see this documentary work on an entertainment level as well as an educational one.”
“We began this project at a particularly advantageous time,” Kenneally concludes. “We’re right at the tipping point of the film/digital revolution/evolution. It was the ideal moment to get candid and extremely perceptive comments from the very filmmakers who are leading the transition into the next generation of movie production.”
The “Side By Side” trailer may be viewed at:
1. Director Chris Kenneally in the Sixteen19 color suite with colorist Brian Boyd
2. Left to Right: DP Chris Cassidy, director Chris Kenneally, Yoda, Justin Szlasa,Keanu Reeves Photographed by Amy Miller Big Rock Ranch, Marin, CA
3. Keanu Reeves (l) with Martin Scorsese
Sixteen19 is a post-production services company with offices at 1619 Broadway, NYC and divisions in New Orleans; L.A. and London. The firm specializes in DI, color correction, editing and finishing and on & near set services. The NYC complex features 15 spacious Avid editing suites, color correct theater/ screening rooms, digital dailies, file transcode/encode and workflow management. Contact: 212-245-1402