Earlier this year, Euphoria returned with a new season, as scandalous and provocative as ever. This time, though, there is something about the show that seems to be a little different — the episodes were filmed entirely with an analogue camera instead of digital, in particular, the Kodak Ektachrome motion picture film.
This switch to film is not an isolated nor rare occurrence. Famous celebrities like Gigi Hadid and Frank Ocean have jumped on this film camera wave, turning vintage-styled pictures into trendy Instagram snapshots.
Beyond Hollywood, film photography has reached a feverish high amongst locals with youths opening up new film camera stores such as filem.sg and filmthrills_ which have sold hundreds of film cameras to mostly young buyers.
However, this trendy hobby is not a cheap one. A camera can easily be in the hundreds and the cost of processing the film can quickly stack up. It is also not for the impatient ones — you can only see your pictures after you get your film roll processed, which can take up to one week.
For many, this might seem completely unappealing. In the age of smartphones with built-in cameras that produce high-quality images immediately, why would anyone opt for a more expensive, time-consuming process only to receive grainy pictures?
We may find our answer in the intentions of Euphoria’s directors. They wanted a change in the visual tone of the episodes and avoided a return to the same look of their first season. In a world filled with high-quality and sharp images, the grainy and soft images of a film camera provide a striking contrast that stands out.
Euphoria’s directors also note how film enabled the season to look like “a memory of high school” and perhaps, this is the power of film — inducing nostalgia with its vintage-styled pictures that differ from the very realistic and decidedly present images of today.
However, this feeling can still be captured more affordably with the use of free, popular photo-editing applications such as Huji Cam, negating the need for a film camera. So why do people still seek impractical film cameras?
Well, the long wait might be one of the main attractions for film enthusiasts. In a fast-paced world that seems to thrive on instant gratification, the film camera is a breath of fresh air. Unlike the ability to ‘spam’ pictures on a smartphone, each film picture requires a little more precision and preparation.
As film enthusiast Sean Wang noted, he became more intentional with the pictures he snapped on film. Instead of grabbing his camera immediately, he ruminates over the scene and asks himself, “Is this special enough? Do I want this captured permanently forever?”
This picture-taking process pushes you to be fully present. There is no ‘delete’ button, and each film roll is limited in the number of pictures that it can contain. It is a process that quite literally forces you to slow things down.
The film camera acts as a subtle protest against the high-speed nature of our world today, an antithesis to the modern world we live in, and a quintessential relic of simpler times.