Martin Scorsese is to abandon shooting movies on film and turn to digital, after a long-term collaborator conceded the collapse of the format was “impossible to fight”.
The celebrated Hollywood director, who has long campaigned for the use of film and restoration of old prints, has “lost the battle” and is to shoot his next project, The Wolf of Wall Street with Leonardo DiCaprio, digitally.
It is his first 2D movie to use the format. Last year’s Hugo, which won an Oscar for cinematography, had to be shot digitally because it was in 3D.
Thelma Schoonmaker, an editor who has worked with Scorsese for 40 years, said: “It’s just impossible to fight it anymore, the collapse of film,” before adding: “Marty and I are very depressed about it. It would appear that we have lost the battle.”
Schoonmaker said in the director there was “no bigger champion of film” but that he saw no way back. He has played an active role in contributing to preserving film from the 1980s, and set up the Film Foundation in 1990.
The strength of Hugo, she said was “it doesn’t look digital. But that’s because we had a great director who’s very careful about how he uses it”.
The shift to digital has been “very quick” the editor said. The move was partly driven by 3D as cinemas spent huge amounts on converting their equipment to digital projectors.
The smaller theatres that have yet to convert are struggling to get hold of prints, she added. “It’s become devastating for those places.”
She said: “The real problem is going to be preservation. Because If you don’t preserve these things every five years digitally, they’re going to vanish. And who’s going to have the money to do that?”
Scorsese has a collection of prints that he plays in his own theatre “where he can celebrate and watch films, and he does it constantly. As much as he can.”
“It’s even affecting our own films now,” Schoonmaker added, following news that they were no longer making prints of 1993 film The Age of Innocence. “That’s a movie that’s not even 20 years old. It’s just shocking.”
Production on The Wolf of Wall Street starts in August. It will be adapted from the book covering banking fraud in the late 1990s. Schoonmaker said: “It’s going to be pretty wild. Very, very wild. Very quick with a strong narration.”