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At what point was shooting in black and white out of art, not money?

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Most movies shot in black white up until the 50s that wanted to save money it seems. However, it seems that in the 60s, or 70s, so many were shooting in color that the onyl reason to shoot in black and white was out of art. But at what point did it become art?

I noticed that in the 60s that more European movies seem to be in black and white than American as well as more Asian movies, so perhaps for America in the 60s, it was out of art, but still out of money, for non-American movie industries overall?



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Shooting on black and white for economic reasons did last at least into the 60's with films like Night of the Living Dead.

From the mid 50's onwards though it was often an artistic choice, partly because filming in B&W was an art form with a longer history and colour required different skills that needed to be developed, partly because colour film stock took time to develop to level were many were happy to use it.



Oh okay. What about 90s movies like Clerks and Pi? As I understand it, black and white was more expensive to shoot on than color in the 90s, so did those low budget filmmakers have to spend more on their movies to shoot in black and white then?



Oh but since black and white film was more costly back then, wouldn't 16mm color still cost less than 16mm black and white?



Oh okay. What about 90s movies like Clerks and Pi? As I understand it, black and white was more expensive to shoot on than color in the 90s, so did those low budget filmmakers have to spend more on their movies to shoot in black and white then?

Speed and versatility, if you do a black and white shoot you don't have to worry about lighting.


Frances Ha for example was in BW I think mostly because they did an act in Paris and they likely wanted to get all those scenes done in a day.


I don't recall Pi but with Clerks you don't have to worry about getting everything in during a certain window of time.



Well I've went to film school before myself, and where is it written you don't have to worry about lighting in black and white?



Well I've went to film school before myself, and where is it written you don't have to worry about lighting in black and white?

It's not a question of worry but of time how much time do you spend on lighting for your shots?



Oh okay. You mean how much do I spend on mine personally? It depends on who the DP/cinematographer I am working with. I guess an hour if we hurry.



Films like Pi were obviously an artistic choice to shoot B&W, in that case I would say to help get across the claustrophobic story of the protagonist, shifting him away from the colours of the recognisable world. As a photographer I can say that removing colour from the image allows you to focus more on texture and contrast in situations were colour maybe a distraction.

I don't agree that lighting isn't an issue with B&W but it does present different issues and I can imagine it speeding up certain shoots.



Well I've went to film school before myself, and where is it written you don't have to worry about lighting in black and white?
Lighting is always important, even in black and white. The one aspect of shooting in black and white that might save time & money is set design. The B &W film maker doesn't have to worry about colors on set dressings not looking good on film or looking different than expected. All they have to worry about is the tonality of light and dark objects.

But mostly black and white photography is used for artistic reasons, of which there can be many.



Yeah for that reason, of real locations not having the best color, I would like to shoot in black and white, but am always talked out of it, since i decreases the marketability of a movie.



Yeah for that reason, of real locations not having the best color, I would like to shoot in black and white, but am always talked out of it, since i decreases the marketability of a movie.
What's type of film are you making? (subject?style?)



Yeah for that reason, of real locations not having the best color, I would like to shoot in black and white, but am always talked out of it, since i decreases the marketability of a movie.
A big issue with colour on location of course is light, shooting in say the golden hour is going to give you very different results to the middle of the day. B&W results will also depend on the time of day in terms of the angle and intensity of light but daytime shooting can be more fruitful not having to worry about colour.

If your film is aiming at the arthouse market or some kind of online viewing then I doubt shooting B&W would hold you back much in terms of audience.



But mostly black and white photography is used for artistic reasons, of which there can be many.
I'm thinking of Spielberg wanting Schindler's List to look like an actual piece of history.
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I think I heard that Mel Brooks shot Young Frankenstein (1974) in B&W so it would look as much like the original film it was spoofing as possible.

Why he didn't do the same with Dracula Dead and Loving It (1995), I don't know. (I do remember hearing a reason, but I don't remember what it was).



Ah... found an explanation on IMDB (trivia section) about why Dracula Dead and Loving It was not filmed in B&W like Young Frankenstein...

When Mel Brooks and the rest of the filmmakers gathered together for the first time to discuss the making of the movie, one of the early questions was should the picture be made in black-and-white, mainly because Brooks' earlier film Young Frankenstein (1974) was made in black and white in order to give the movie the feeling of the old Universal Frankenstein films. This idea was dropped, mainly because, as Steve Haberman said in the audio commentary of the film in DVD, a lot of the great Dracula movies were in color, specifically the Hammer pictures starring Christopher Lee and Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992).

I can't really buy this explanation since Brook's Dracula comedy was spoofing the original 1931 version (even used lines from it) and not the Hammer films. There were Hammer films made in color about Frankenstein also, but Brooks wasn't spoofing those when he made Young Frankenstein... rather he was spoofing the original James Whale black and white classic.



What's type of film are you making? (subject?style?)
Oh it's a very low budget horror thriller type I guess it would fall under, set in modern times.



Oh it's a very low budget horror thriller type I guess it would fall under, set in modern times.
If you did it as a 1950s style B budget horror film, you could go B&W and I'd bet your film would get more notice.

Have you seen A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)? You really should check it out, it's a tiny budget indie horror shot in B&W.