On a scavenger hunt through Netflix on a late night, sometimes you come across those really cool documentaries that keep you up thinking. For me, that doc was Side by Side. Anyone with any interest in the film industry needs to watch this. It’s basically a documentary that takes a closer look at the way films are being, well, filmed. All the new age technology and soft wares make for incredible visuals, and sometimes has raised skepticism in people I have talked to on the subject. This flick explores digital cinematography compared with traditional film. It pulls up key points in all the areas, and I was also learning throughout the entire process, which says a lot. You get a look back at the past of cinematography and the developments in cinema over the years. Keanu Reeves produced, narrated, and was an on-screen interviewer to many in the film. Reeves is actually a really knowledgeable man and it reflects off the screen. (Of course, he’s an actor.)
The film also introduced me to different cameras and equipment used to make the magic of movies. It was very impressive to see all the interviewees featured in this project. You’ve got directors like George Lucas, James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, and one of my dear favorites, Richard Linklater, among a couple of others. Plenty of cinematographers, colorists, engineers, and artists were asked on their thoughts and what they provide the industry with. To hear what each director had to say, having made their fair share of films with great effects, was refreshing. It’s really nice when they also acknowledge the work of others. Reeves starred in a film directed by Linklater called A Scanner Darkly back in 2006 that was crafted with interpolated rotoscope animation, giving the film a cartoon-like view. Reeves shares his experience on the set to Scorsese, and explains how he pleaded to take a break from the long digital video takes. Below is a shot from the documentary featuring Keanu Reeves (left) and Oscar-winning director, Martin Scorsese.
Side By Side takes you to the different aspects of film digitization and contrasts it to film. I found it to be a vital documentary on its attention to the future of film. It wraps your mind on this floating convergence. You get an in-depth look at cinema via interviews with some of the biggest names of our time, and it kept me wanting to hear more. It’s enjoyable to the extreme if movies are your cup of tea. Again, it is on Netflix. If you’re ever overwhelmed on what to watch, as we all are, give this gem of a documentary a chance. It sparks the question, “Can film survive our digital future?”