Vince Gilligan on WTF Podcast Gives Best Answer About Film vs. Digital

marc-avatarLately I’ve been listening to the WTF Podcast with Marc Maron. I listen to quite a number of interview-style podcasts, but there’s something about Marc’s style that really stands out. It doesn’t feel like an interview. Yes, it’s conversational, but it’s even more than that. He has a way about him that is almost childlike. Naturally, as a comedian, he’s funny. But despite the title of the show and the fact that it opens with a small barrage of f-bombs, he actually seems like a really sweet man (albeit with his fair share of demons). The fact that the queen of interviews herself, Terry Gross, and the friggin’ President of these United States of America, both asked to be on the show, is a testament to what Marc has accomplished.

Last week I was listening to episode 620 where he had Breaking Bad creator and showrunner Vince Gilligan. As BB is arguably one of the best TV shows ever to have graced the airwaves, as soon as I saw it in my podcast feed, I downloaded and started listening. If you’re a fan of the series and/or passionate about filmmaking, this is an episode you have to listen to.

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Vince mentioned how every episode of Breaking Bad was filmed on 35mm film, but his new show, the BB spinoff Better Call Saul, is shot on digital (specifically the RED Dragon). He explained how his DP, Arthur Albert, did a “blind taste test” where he shot sample footage on 35mm film, a couple of REDs, the Alexa and Sony’s F55. The then had it color-timed and shown to Vince and his producing partner Peter Gould. Vince told Marc that if he could tell the difference between the clips and pick out the film, regardless of the extra price, they would’ve gone with film.

Admittedly, he could  not tell the difference.

The Best Answer Ever

Towards the end of the show (around 50:20), Vince gave what I believe is hands down the BEST answer I’ve EVER heard regarding the long-running film vs. digital debate. When Marc asks him about shooting on digital vs. film, Vince just says, “I miss film.” He goes on to admit that he doesn’t have any objective or quantitative reason to say film is “better” than digital. He acknowledges that digital looks amazing, and as he discovered, not even he could tell the difference. He knows digital is cheaper. But when Marc asks him why he misses film, he just honestly says, “I can’t say that digital is inferior or that it fundamentally looks different. I can only say that I miss film and want to be shooting on it.” At the end of the day, there’s just a nostalgic romance to film that he appreciates and that connects with him.

I love this answer because it’s honest and authentic. He doesn’t try to make some confounded, unsupportable argument. He doesn’t get on a high horse or soap box. He just loves the medium. No particular rhyme or reason other than a call back to a bygone era and a format that made him fall in love with filmmaking. For my money, that is an answer I can get behind and applaud.

Here’s the episode below. You can also download it or subscribe to the show in iTunes.