35mm loses another key advocate: Martin Scorsese to shoot new film digitally

Martin ScorseseHad you asked me yesterday to make a list of the filmmakers who were the biggest proponents of shooting on celluloid, Martin Scorsese’s name would have been close to the top. Sure, the veteran director shot last year’s award-winning “Hugo” using the Arri Alexa digital camera, but most of us figured that was only because you can’t shoot 3-D on film.

Well, it turns out Scorsese is a much bigger fan of shooting digitally than any of us realized. In a recent interview with Empire magazine, Scorsese’s longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker said, “I think Marty just feels [the era of shooting on film is] unfortunately over, and there’s been no bigger champion of film than him.” Yes, you read that right: Scorsese will be shooting his upcoming “The Wolf of Wall Street,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, on digital cameras.

Schoonmaker added: “It’s a very bittersweet thing to be watching films with [Marty] now that are on film. We’re cherishing every moment of it. The number of prints that are now being made for release has just gone down, and it would appear that the theatres have converted so quickly to digital.”

Schoonmaker’s comments make it sound like she and Scorsese truly lament the decline of film, but if that were the case, then they’d be shooting on film. 35mm (and 70mm) cameras and film-stock are still widely available, and directors like Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Quentin Tarantino choose to still work almost exclusively on celluloid.

Scorsese previously hinted that he was interested in shooting dramas in 3-D, even going so far as to say he wished that he had been able to make “Raging Bull” in the stereoscopic format, but he will not do so on “The Wolf of Wall Street.” It will be in conventional 2-D, and that he has chosen to use digital for a “flat” film is as clear a sign as any that it will now be his preferred format.

Hat-tip: IndieWire