Perhaps you’ve clocked it by now: we’ve got film on the brain. We’re dropping ‘sprockets’ into conversation and we know what ‘perf’ is short for. We also know our medium format from our 35mm, our Portras from our Ektars.
But “why film?” It’s a question we’ve been asking a lot of people these days – photographers, cinematographers, artists, and each other…
Certain familiar answers crop up over and over, often extolling the constraints of the medium: When shooting film, time is money and celluloid finite; shots are secret until revealed in the darkroom. It’s a dance between discipline and the beautiful accidents of chance. It requires a considered aim, but is full of surprises. And it seems it’s these limitations that are setting up analogue technology as the appealing counterpoint to digital media. Analogue emerges as the way out of a keep-scrolling, keep-shooting, data-accumulating, block-inducing creative malaise.
Fittingly then, Kodachrome issue 2 is dedicated to thinking about this creative power of constraints, the paradoxical idea that some restrictions bring freedom.
The flagship feature for this issue, The Power of Limits – by Oliver Berry, sets out the manifesto. Film might have got us thinking, but Oliver showed us that limitations as a driving force for creativity are everywhere.
If you’ve ever been paralysed by the emptiness of a white piece of paper, you’ll know what we mean. So, to get you started, here are three creative constraints pulled from the article that worked wonders for their creators…
Lipogram. One of the Oulipo’s (the wholipo’s?) preferred techniques (as championed by Ross Sutherland). This is the writing limit where the work omits one or some key letters…guess which one I’ve left out of this sentence?
140 Characters. Twitter may have upped the limit recently, but the restrained format is what powers poet Brian Bilston’s clever creations.
Unusual canvases. Artist Phil Hansen choses deliberately difficult canvases and media for his art – say, a banana or a stack of Starbucks cups. Stuck creatively? Try reaching for your biro and the fruit bowl…
So, for all the talk of creativity and freedom – perhaps there’s something to be said for following the rules. Nab yourself a copy of Kodachrome 2 to read further on why ‘thinking outside the box isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…’
For a limited time you can use promo code 2017HolidayKodachrome to get 25% off.
Constraints and film – three takes (and no more) from the Kodakery
“The thing we’ve lost by not shooting on film is the canvas; as painters – now, as a filmmaker you can just walk in and paint the whole city…to me it’s a very bad state of affairs in filmmaking that we’ve taken our canvas away.” Jason Wise, documentary filmmaker
“It’s the foundational concept of 24 frame capture…there’s a certain discipline that comes along with shooting film…when film is rolling there’s pennies rolling through the camera there – they need to be very careful with their shooting ratios. So what goes along with that is that they need to be very prepared in pre-production. Their scripts need to be sharp and focused and complete…” Anthony Jannelli, cinematographer and NYU professor of film
“I sometimes feel like you can get away with more if you’ve got colour in your camera. I really enjoy paring an image down to its basic ingredients, meaning composition and shapes and beautiful tones.” Michael Crouser, photographer, [on sticking to Black and White]