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Large-format celluloid wins at Bafta give clues for creative marketing

19th February 2024

It is interesting that in the digital world, 4 out of 5 of the big film winners at the recent Bafta awards were shot on what you might call an old-fashioned ‘film’ rather than pinpoint digital.

So you find that in the world where art meets science, you see that the old masters still pack in the crowds at various exhibitions. Contemporary masters like Hockney with his big exhibition at the RA in 2012 demonstrated how the iPad could be used to good effect to create his massive works depicting the countryside of the East Riding of Yorkshire. The digital was built on the earlier painting experience using more traditional paints.

Imperceptibly then we see the tug between the subtlety of human touch and the raw data of HDMI. The film Oppenheimer with its physics depicted in celluloid seems somehow perverse, and yet the period drama and the people with all their human frailties are far from the Large Hadron Collider and quantum physics.

Storytelling is the heart and soul of good cinematography. The magic/alchemy of cinema.

So what can we learn in creative marketing from the cinema world and the usage of celluloid to film?

  1. It takes considerable effort to change a well-trodden path. Getting innovation accepted is part of the challenge. Going back to the old path can equally take some effort, especially when it costs more.
  2. You need to have an idea that logically transfers to the customer. It needs to tread the line of having pillars which most can grasp while covering the whole in something very different.
  3. Subtlety in a sepia print conveys a feeling that digital finds difficult to replicate. The same with celluloid over stark digital.
  4. Don’t presume the past is not as good as ‘progress’. Every day we say to ourselves this isn’t built as well as it was before. Cost savings in film, art and marketing can reduce the efficacy of any product.
  5. Creatives need to find commercial backers who support doing something different…. going against or oblique to the grain.
  6. Mind over matter is best.
  7. Don’t presume the audience can’t pick something up. Human senses are extraordinary when it comes to feeling and getting meaning.
  8. Gut feel or intuition in innovation needs to be tested with research, but don’t expect asking the audience will necessarily give you all the answers.
  9. The film Barbie didn’t win much at The Baftas. The box office tells you it was a blockbuster success. It was just different….bold and unexpected.
  10. Just because one set of experts doesn’t like something…like a bottle of wine for example. It doesn’t mean it isn’t very popular and most consumers find at price x the product is completely acceptable.

My overall take as usual is that ‘digital’ isn’t the answer to everything. It is often a bit of a lazy cop-out for doing something more interesting.

So big format celluloid filmmaking takes some mastering. It also takes some editing.

Like anything really good…talent, hard work, getting your hands dirty, going with your instinct…but asking a few people you trust and a bit of research to fine-tune. Ultimately this is what differentiates your product, service…survival.

That’s it.

David Jackson