"I think that technology in cinema is changing very fast but the techniques to craft images (the language) are the same" - Mauro John Capece

Mauro John Capece is a film director, expert in digital productions, pioneer in innovative film making, and film funding. He directs and produces features and documentaries, music videos, live music and commercials. His works have won awards at major national and international film festivals. He spoke to Abhijit Ganguly on the sidelines of The NEZ International Film Festival an initiative by Dr Sudeep Ranjan Sarkar, founder of NEZ Foundation.

One industry that has been expansively affected by technological changes is film. Both mechanical and digital innovations have influenced everything from equipment to distribution, changing how films are made and the manner in which we consume them. What are your thoughts?

I think that technology in cinema is changing very fast but the techniques to craft images (the language) are the same. As a director, it is extremely important to be updated at all times but without a correct use of the “film grammar” and the right story you cannot do anything. We have a grammar, the moving pictures language and we have an art, cinema, that is (and it will remains) the fusion of other arts. Technology is changing but the film’s language is the same as what Sergej Ejzenštejn created in 1925.

As an example, if I see a shot from the above done twenty years ago using a long jib or a contemporary shot using a drone, the grammar, the reason of that shot- it’s the same. It doesn’t matter if you are using a contemporary Ginbal, a dolly or an old Steady Cam, if you need a steady shot you will do using contemporary and cheap technology.

I don’t think that contemporary techniques are giving the possibility to spend less money to do films because the big companies are every time searching for expensive changes in technology. As an example, think to the following standards and their approximate dates of release in the industry: Vhs (1976); Betacam (1982); Video8 (1985); Digital Betacam (1993); Dv or Mini DV (1995); HD 720 or Interlaced (1998); Full Hd (2004); 3D (2006); 4k (2012); 8K (2014). Where is freedom? I shot my last feature using 4K and we spent lot of money in storage (hard drives). We probably would have spent the same amount if we had decided to shoot on film. That’s not independence.

In what ways is cinema reinventing itself to take advantage of the affordances of digital media?

In many ways. Visual Fx, Chroma Key, but not only. I really like the colour fidelity that is obtained from a digital shot Raw and I find that digital has far exceeded the emulsion film at both the definition and in terms of the possibility of intervention in post production. On the other hand I do not know whether in a hundred years magnetic media will still exist. My only fear is that one day we can live in a world without memory or art.

How Social Media has changed the game for documentary and the movie industry?

Social media is radically changing the way we live and communicate but also are facilitating large companies investing in advertising to bring OUR attention to THEIR products. On the other hand I never signed an agreement due to crowd funding or with someone you met on a social media... I NEVER made artworks or money or found a production thanks to the web. A few people in the cinema or in the documentary they live and work through social. On the other hand I really believe in the power that social media gives artists that can interact directly with their audience.

How will cinema be different a decade from now than it was ten years ago?

Now we have more video on demand, more cool tv series, more technology than ten years ago but I see deep crisis of content and interesting stories. The last twenty years are absolutely not comparable to the sixties or seventies as regard to the quality of the stories. The decay, evident in television is even more evident when we speak of the seventh art. Obviously we have interesting films... but, talking about quality and contents, we are very far from titles like Fellini’s 8 1/2 or Reitz’s Heimat, etc.

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