Post-Film: Production, Distribution, and Consumption in the Digital age
What is meant by post-film? How can we be ‘post-film’ when cinema remains such a prominent cultural product? To be post-film can refer to the decline of celluloid as the primary tool of filmmaking. It can also refer to the transformations that have taken place in the wake of digital technologies. We can think of the post-film era in a number of ways. For example, we can think of it in terms of the digital age, where digital technology is increasingly replacing film technology both as a method of production and exhibition. As we’ll see, digital technology has had a huge impact on the production, distribution, and consumption of film. Not only does it have an impact on film practice, where a film can be made for much less than has previously been possible (through DV cameras, non-linear editing technology, web-based technologies), but it also has an impact on film form and aesthetics. Some question and consider the mourning of the ‘end of film’ as a historical practice and as a format (Hanson, 2004; Lewis, 2001; Willis, 2005). Some note that the distinct aesthetic of film, its graininess, its capacity for high contrast, is being lost to the inferior successor of digital, which has not yet reached the standard of film (for example, poor contrast ratio; Fossati, 2009). Similarly, others refer to the rise in digital effects usage (composting, layering, and so on), which are said, in various ways, to detract from or add to a film’s ‘realism’ (Prince, 1996; Lister and Dovey, 2009). One might think of the effects used for the folding and shifting cities in the film Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010).