The Twenty SS20 Issue

Digital: The Machine

By Jo Phillips

The Machine

Digital technology means that filmmakers can exert much more control over the process. Much less is left to chance, you can see a take immediately after it’s filmed and know exactly how it will look in the cinema (as opposed to waiting for the rushes to be developed). You can also manipulate that take in infinite ways in order to achieve the desired result. Split screens and CGI can change or manipulate an actor’s performance, grading can change the creative decisions made on set by the DOP and Set Designer. Much more power is in the director and producer’s hands now.

The implications of digital technology on filmmaking are far reaching. At the moment our choice as an audience is limited by a broken distribution system that only really knows how to market and deliver lowest common denominator movies to a wide audience. Digital distribution, once it comes of age, will mean that audiences will be able to find the films that they want to see, rather than what the studio thinks that they want to see. This, and the long tail profitability of a film’s life, will, in my opinion, lead to a new golden age in cinema.

The Machine

Digital technology means that low budget films like ‘The Machine’, that were shot for less than a million pounds, can explore ideas and stories in a way that was exclusively the territory of 100 million pound studio pictures ten years ago. If you’re prepared to work hard and find the right collaborators the only limits to what you can realise on the screen are your imagination.

The Machine would have been impossible without digital technology. We cast Caity Lotz over a video Skype call to LA; all of my prep for the film was digital. The pdfs I made for the HODs detailing visual references for the look of the film; and the pre vis storyboards that I shared with the digital artists were created digitally. The film was shot on a digital camera (the Arri Alexa), edited digitally, and there are over four hundred shots in the film have digital effects. The film will also be distributed and projected digitally!

The Machine is in Cinemas / VoD on 21 March and DVD on 31 March (iTunes | Blu-ray | DVD).