‘Star Wars’: Director Colin Trevorrow Says ‘Episode IX’ Will Be Shot on Film, Not Digital

Colin Trevorrow Star Wars Episode IX
Rob Latour/REX Shutterstock

Colin Trevorrow prefers to watch period pictures that are shot on film instead of on a digital camera, the director behind “Jurassic World” said during a press conference at the Sundance Film Festival on Thursday.

“There’s something in my brain that says, ‘well they didn’t have video cameras then,'” said Trevorrow.

A belief that digital cameras are anachronistic will impact his choices on his next project. When Trevorrow slides behind the camera on “Star Wars: Episode IX,” he plans to use film stock.

“It’s a period film,” Trevorrow joked. “It happened a long time ago.”

Trevorrow’s comments came during a panel discussion on the merits of film at a time when many theaters are switching over to digital projectors and studios are pushing directors to abandon shooting on film, arguing that the process is cumbersome and expensive. He was joined by Christopher Nolan, who has tried to keep film alive in the blockbusters he makes such as “Inception” and “Interstellar,” and Rachel Morrison, the cinematographer of “Fruitvale Station.”

Nolan seized the moment to hit back at claims that shooting on digital is cheaper and the way of the future, decrying a “corporate conspiracy” and “a culture around wanting to kill film.”

As evidence, he noted that the media pounced on reports of technical glitches during an early 70MM screening of Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.” The revisionist western embarked on an elaborate roadshow, dusting off projectors that had been retired in the recent digital overhaul of the country’s cinemas, and investing time and millions of dollars to screen the picture in the way Tarantino intended.

Yet, instead of praising Tarantino’s commitment, Nolan slammed commentators for seizing on “some little technical glitch as if it was his fault. As if he built the projector.”

Nolan argued that digital projectors break down too, but those hiccups are rarely reported. He also hit back at claims that digital is cheaper and thereby more practical.

“There needs to be a choice,” he said. “As a medium it will continue to exist. It has to continue to exist. It’s pointless to pretend it has to go away.”

Nolan, by his own admission, has the clout to demand that his movies be shot on film. But Morrison noted that low-budget movies can be shot on celluloid, if sacrifices are made across the production and costs are cut in other areas.

It’s worth it, she said, because film creates an “inherent empathy” in its images.

Like Nolan, Trevorrow said directors needed to evangelize about the benefits of celluloid, because “there’s a danger to it turning into vinyl.”

At a time when the rise of streaming services such as Netflix and improvements in television sets are creating a competitive drag on movie theaters, Nolan expressed confidence that cinema would be able to withstand the threats it currently faces.

“They’re going to have to get better and better as home entertainment systems get better,” said Nolan.

“My hope is the screens are going to be bigger, the seating is going to be better, and the premium idea of the experience is going to be enhanced,” he added.

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  1. s0krat3s says:

    Yes, they had spaceships and holograms, but not video cameras. What logic.

  2. Bib Hot Tuna says:

    What is Rian Johnson shooting on Episode VIII? That seems like a logical bit of info to post in this story.

    Since we all know JJ Abrams shot on film, then Trevorrow saying he’s also shooting on film is not a story…unless Rian Johnson is NOT.

    Or unless this is just another Star Wars non-story for click bait.


  3. Irving Chies says:

    Nolan the dinosaur doesn’t want to go extinct

  4. Nobody tell him, but they didn’t have film way back when either heheh…. till, good on him.

  5. davit@ao.com says:

    dont you love how he is going to treat star wars?
    as a period film
    that alone shows the respect he has for the films

  6. Bravo. I only support movies that are shot on film! In other good news, Kodak’s film business is expected to turn a profit this year, they announced a new super 8 camera and a new processing infrastructure. 2016 is film’s year, so let’s keep filmmakers using it!

  7. “There’s something in my brain that says, ‘well they didn’t have video cameras then,’” Well, they also did not have non-linear editing systems (NLE) back then either. I’m sure he is not going to do old-school editing with razors and tape. Another director stuck in the past looking to use current technology as a scapegoat.

  8. Chizz says:

    Colin Trevorrow also says Episode IX will be terrible due to his involvement

  9. Bill says:

    Bravo to these men and their preference for film.

    Yes, digital projectors do have issues and I’ve seen many of them, so let’s call it even.

    Anyone who saw Interstellar off an IMAX film print knows how good it looks (and how much richer it looked than digital.)

    Ultimately, like aspect ratio it should be an artistic choice left to the director.

  10. 85wzen says:

    There is a big difference… between film and digital… a history that isn’t commonly understood, of course.

  11. Matt says:

    Glad to hear it will be shot on film, but Disney and Lucasfilm need to pick a different director for Episode IX! Colin Trevorrow does not have the passion, style, or creative talent that this franchise deserves. He was interviewed on the Force Awakens red carpet and could not have seemed less excited to direct the ninth installment. Every scene with dialogue in Jurassic World was a cringe fest. There are so many better Sci Fi/Action directors out there! Christopher McQuarrie, Brad Bird, Joseph Kosinski…the list goes on!

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