The Oscar victories of Slumdog Millionaire – especially as Best Film and in the category of Best Cinematography – are a huge leap forward for the Los Angeles filmmaking establishment.
There are specific reasons: Slumdog Millionaire, winning both Best Picture and Best Cinematography, acknowledged a revolution: this was a movie shot on digital video. This is not to say that a movie shot on digital video is a better movie than one shot on film. It is only to acknowledge that a movie shot on digital video certainly looks different to one shot on film, but, more importantly, it costs a whole lot less than one shot on film. You can cover more.
Slumdog Millionaire MIGHT have been able to have been shot on film. But there is no way it could have been shot on film on its budget. Indeed, its budget would have been exponentially blown sky-high: the very scenes that thrill us in that wonderful movie – the chase-scenes through the slums, for example – would have cost as least as much as the whole picture if shot on film.
Those amazing sequences were composed of many cameras (sometimes as many as thirty) recording directly to hard-disk drives – not dissimilar technology to a consumer camcorderist recording directly to their own HDD. Indeed, it is understood by FILM MAFIA that most of the many camerapeople on SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE were carrying laptops on their backs in special backpacks – specifically, Macs.
In other words, the winner of BEST PICTURE at the OSCARS was made using technology that is completely available to all of us. The alchemy, the mysteriousness, the “magic” – and therefore the “sacred knowledge” of filmmaking – which has always relied on the fears of such elements as emulsion, shutter speed, dark rooms, processing, sprocket holes, bulbs, clapper boards and the like – has been erased.
There is no reason not to make a beautiful film. But, in Hollywood terms, it is now okay not to make a beautiful film. So, there can only be one message: filmmaking is no longer for the chosen few. Filmmaking is democratized; filmmaking is achievable, for all. Like the writer with their typwriter, the modern camera has reached the hands of anyone who wants to use it. You just have to know what you want to say.