A documentary that looks at the current choice being made by film-makers to either shoot traditionally or move towards digital, Side By Side contains some nice pieces of information, but is mostly a chance to hear a variety of directors talk about their approaches to film-making and their passion for whichever format they choose.
Keanu Reeves is the constant element here, conducting interviews with directors and people who work in other areas of the film business. The list of names includes, but isn't limited to, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, David Fincher, Danny Boyle, Steven Soderbergh, Robert Rodriguez, George Lucas, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, Greta Gerwig and Joel Schumacher.
Directed by Christopher Kenneally, who also wrote the linking narration, this isn't a documentary to win anyone over, and it's not full of surprises. If you like the feel and look of actual FILM then you'll feel that you've been proven right in your choice as the end credits roll. But so will anyone who likes the options provided by filming digitally. And if you can't already guess what side of the fence James Cameron and George Lucas fall on then you've never seen a James Cameron or George Lucas film lately. The two men end up being two of the duller subjects interviewed, funnily enough, with Lucas being almost laughable in his passion to convert everyone to the world of digital.
The greater fun here comes from people either putting up a great variety of reasons for their choices, with Rodriguez being just as passionate about digital as Cameron or Lucas but putting forward his argument in a much more practical manner, or from listening to people who can state their own personal preference while also looking at the bigger picture and the pros and cons of each method.
A film for film lovers (on any format), Side By Side is a pleasant, civilised debate that serves to remind people of just how much blood, sweat and tears went into creating the movies that are now beloved classics. When remembering all of those movie memories, the main argument becomes a lot less significant, but no less interesting. Well, that's how I felt as I smiled throughout the whole thing.