The F-Word Conundrum

The Word Film

The word film has three meanings relevant to us. As a verb, film means to make or shoot scenes for a movie. It also means the act of shooting or producing a movie. As a noun, film means a thin strip of flexible material, a cellulose derivative, coated with a photosensitive emulsion. As a noun, film also means the motion picture or movie presented on a screen in a theater, on a TV, computer monitor or portable media player – that which is watched.

We have resisted the alternative use of the word film. We felt that filmmaker should refer only to someone using a cellulose derivative coated with a photosensitive emulsion. We felt that the person who uses videotape or flash media is not a filmmaker. However, shooting a cellulose derivative has become too costly and too difficult to edit. Very few people shoot with photosensitive emulsion, yet our popular culture is reluctant to give up the word film or filmmaker.

So, with great reluctance, we have begun to use filmmaker to refer to people who make video. The word videomaker is not in the dictionary, so technically it does not exist. The name Videomaker refers to our company and our products. Culturally, the two words, video maker, are becoming synonymous with the word filmmaker. As of 2008, when reading articles here, you will find that those who direct or produce movies are filmmakers, even if they use videotape or flash media.


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With great reluctance, we have also begun to use film for a presentation on a screen – that which is watched. Not long ago, at a movie theater, everything you saw was shot on a cellulose derivative coated with a photosensitive emulsion. Transferring video to such a cellulose derivative resulted in an inferior image. Around 2000, new video-transfer technology made the image quality acceptable. HD video made the process even more reasonable.

Extremely high-resolution video projectors use a new standard called 4k. Movie theaters that were using a cellulose derivative coated with a photosensitive emulsion now use these 4k projectors. The image quality is quite good. Due to HD video and 4k video projectors, filmmakers now do not need to use the cellulose derivative.

We are now using the word film in ways some may consider technically inaccurate. We have yielded because of cultural relevance. However, we have to draw the line somewhere, so we at Videomaker have decided not to use the word film as a verb to describe the act of shooting video. This may change someday, but we are doing our best to retain some measure of decency for the English language.

You might be a filmmaker using video, and you might watch a film shot with video equipment, but you can’t film with a camcorder.

Matthew York is Videomaker‘s Publisher/Editor.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.