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J.J. Abrams To Shoot 'Star Wars: Episode VII' On 35mm Film With Cinematographer Dan Mindel

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist August 22, 2013 at 7:11PM

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away almost every director in Hollywood shot their films on 35 mm film. Now, the switchover from film to digital photography is almost complete, with even old school diehards like Martin Scorsese making the transition (this fall's "Wolf of Wall Street" will be his first non-3D digital movie). Oddly enough, J.J. Abrams, a futuristically minded filmmaker who seems to always be looking forward, has become a notable holdout, refusing to adopt the new technology. Even odder is that this will continue with his biggest project yet: Disney's "Star Wars: Episode VII." He's also recruited an old favorite as the movie's cinematographer.
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J.J. Abrams, Star Wars Ep 7

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away almost every director in Hollywood shot their films on 35 mm film. Now, the switchover from film to digital photography is almost complete, with even old school diehards like Martin Scorsese making the transition (this fall's "Wolf of Wall Street" will be his first non-3D digital movie). Oddly enough, J.J. Abrams, a futuristically-minded filmmaker who seems to always be looking forward, has become a notable holdout, refusing to adopt the new technology. Even odder is that this will continue with his biggest project yet: Disney's "Star Wars: Episode VII." He's also recruited an old favorite as the movie's cinematographer.

According to The Force.net, at an industry event in Los Angeles, the announcement was made that the amazingly talented Dan Mindel will be photographing the new galactic adventure (on actual film!). Mindel, who memorably collaborated with Tony Scott on "Enemy of the State," "Spy Game" and "Domino," cultivating the hyperactive, color-soaked style for which Scott was largely remembered (at least in the later part of his career), has worked with Abrams previously on "Mission: Impossible III," "Star Trek" and "Star Trek Into Darkness." Mindel helped develop the shimmery, lens-flare-intensive look of the Abrams' glittery "Star Trek" universe. (He's also worked on big budget sci-fi fare for Disney, having shot "John Carter" for the studio.)

The still subtitle-free "Star Wars: Episode VII" will be shot on Kodak film stock 5219, for all the techno-nerds out there. We're honestly amazed there is enough fresh Kodak film stock out there in the world to facilitate a movie this big and cumbersome.

What's even more interesting is the fact that the "Star Wars" prequels were seen as technological bellwethers: "Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace," was the first movie to include a digitally photographed shot (it's a scene of gas entering a meeting chamber) and one of the first films to ever be projected digitally; "Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones" was one of the first big movies shot entirely on the digital format, ditto for "Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith."

Producer Kathleen Kennedy had already suggested that the new "Star Wars" movie will take a deliberately old-school approach to the material, and this further solidifies it. As The Force.net notes, earlier this year at the Produced By conference, Abrams held true to his love of traditional film: " "I have not yet shot a movie digitally. Film is the thing I am most comfortable with. If film were to go away—and digital is challenging it—then the standard for the highest, best quality would go away."

No news on whether or not the film will be 3D or IMAX, but 3D seems likely. "Star Wars: Episode VII" will, of course, destroy helpless planets in the summer of 2015.

This article is related to: Star Wars: Episode 7, Kathleen Kennedy, J. J. Abrams


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