Will Hollywood eventually follow Rome’s downfall?
The parallels between the Roman and the Hollywood Empire are, once you look for them, very obvious. When the American film started in the early 20th century, traveling tents showing a limited range of movies were rapidly replaced by dedicated movie houses with an ever changing portfolio. The human capitalist realized there was big money hidden that just needed to be harvested. While across the pond, the European lacerated each other during World War 1 (and not short thereafter: World War 2), business flourished in California. It took a mere three centuries until in 1950 Hollywood was split into the big Populus and the small, ruling Senat (nowadays known as the Majors): 70% of all box office was owned by the Big Five; another 25% by the Little Three. In 1938, 19 of the 25 highest salaries in America were paid in the film industry.
There was a lot of money and it got used to produce even more (e.g. Ben-Hur, Quo Vadis or Gone with the Wind).
This week was a week of holiday in the Netherlands and I used it to conduct some research and do some experimenting. My initial plan was to film one of my two storylines on Super 8 film material. My guiding docent was so kind to provide me with a camera, so all I needed was the films.
Well, as it turns out, that sounds easier than it is. I found some German and Dutch websites where one can buy such films and which even develop the material afterwards: KAHL Film & TV, Wittner Cinetec and Super8.nl being the biggest ones.
To make a long story short: There are various factors that lead to the conclusion that it would not be feasible to film on Super 8 after all. I will have to recreate the look in post-production.
Factor 1: A standard film roll measures 15ft / 15,25m and consists of approximately 3600 frames. That results in 3:20 mins when filming with 18fps, the frame rate typically used on Super 8. Obviously I would need multiple of those film rolls for the actual filming alone – not to speak of beforehand test-shoots (as I have never shot moving images on analog before) and the error-margin coming with analog film-making.
Factor 2: Developing analog film-material takes time, and my deadline is near. While Super8.nl, for example, has an express service to develop material in under 48hrs, that service costs three times as much as the normal time of around 30 days.
To make a rough estimation for 5 film rolls (which is super-duper optimistic, btw): KAHL Film would be the cheapest option with ca. 165€ but the problem, that development takes around 30 days – or 60 days if I make a test shooting before the actual shooting. Buying the films and using the express service of Super8.nl would cost 200€ – 250€ on top of the 165€ for the material. Sadly, my budget doesn’t allow option 2 and my deadline doesn’t allow the first one either.