Director Chris Kenneally and Reeves put Side by Side together while working on DI sessions for Henry's Crime.
Ultimately, it took the team, which included DP Chris Cassidy, almost a year to film everyone. "We began at the 2010 Cameraimage Festival in Poland and got a bunch of DPs there, including all these greats I'd worked with, such as Storaro, Michael Chapman and Michael Ballhaus," reports Reeves. "That was our start, and then word of mouth spread from there, and I began contacting some of the directors I had worked with over the past 25 years. So that history together obviously helped get some of the big names onboard, and we just started building momentum. Shooting finally wrapped last September, and out of the 140 interviews, about 70 made it into the final movie. We got nearly everyone we wanted, although, of course, some people were unavailable or didn't want to be interviewed."
Getting Nolan turned out to be the hardest catch of the lot because of the director's The Dark Knight Rises
schedule. In an appeal to his anti-digital sentiments, Reeves says he actually wrote to the director "on an old-fashioned typewriter," and the team finally shot Nolan in his trailer on the Batman
set in Los Angeles. The pair was also thrilled to get the Wachowski brothers. "They haven't done an interview in over a decade," notes Kenneally, "so Keanu's friendship with them really helped us there."
Reeves interviewing 3D guru Vince Pace. For the film, Reeves and Kenneally shot with two Panasonic AG-HPX170 cameras and a Canon EOS 5D Mark II for B-roll.
"They were lovely, and I felt honored that they wanted to be a part of this," notes Reeves. "And I think they add so much to this documentary and may surprise a lot of people with their views. Although they pioneered so many digital techniques in the Matrix
films, they have this big love for film and the look of film."
Talking to George Lucas was "another big highlight" for the actor. "The sheer impact that he has had on digital cinema is just so amazing, and I learned so much. I mean, I wasn't familiar with his development of the EditDroid, which then turned into the Avid," he explains. "But we all know about ILM and THX and his work with digital cameras. He's a true maverick and pioneer of where we are today. He's done it all."
In a sign of the times, the team went all digital in terms of shooting, using two Panasonic AG-HPX170 cameras for the interviews and a Canon EOS 5D Mark II for B-roll. "We were all comfortable working with the Panasonic gear, and it's light and portable so we could just stick it in a backpack if we got a call from someone saying, 'Can you do it tomorrow?'" notes Kenneally. "We would use one HPX locked off on the subject and use the other to roam around and get other angles."
Although many of the filmmakers still favor film, the choice between film and digital may not be around much longer.
With the team acquiring so much raw footage, it made sense to start editing as they kept shooting. "We did it all on Final Cut Pro 7 at Sixteen19 in New York, where they also do post and color correction," Kenneally reports. The team also got help from Technicolor New York who had worked on Henry's Crime
. "They were around when we first came up with the whole idea for this, and they were very helpful in advising us and getting the whole ball rolling."
The project used two editors, Mike Long and Malcolm Hearn, who stepped in when Long had to leave for a prior commitment. "We cut and did post over about 10 months," says Kenneally, "and it was very labor-intensive as we ended up cutting out half the interviews, usually because they had similar opinions, and we didn't want it to be too crowded."