Some films have more inherent contrast than others, but this just means that a lower contrast film needs to be treated differently to yield similar final contrast to a higher contrast film.
It's a system that is connected, and every component matters to more or less extent. Technique is the most important component, in matching the qualities of the lens, the light, the film, the paper (and their developers). Everything has to fit together perfectly to make the most of it from a technical standpoint.
Yes but, again, that is really true only for black and white. With colour films, development time is not a variable. Changing development time can lead to colour casts. Not that I ever tried, that's the theory.
Color films are essentially 3-layer B&W films with each layer having sensitivity to different colors. The silver develops just like B&W and help develop the dye image. The bleach step reverses the silver development and the fix washes all the silver away leaving the dye image.
The wild card with color film is color balance can change a bit, but this is rarely a deal killer change in my experience.
The other thing I have found about color casts is that at least for me they normally come with too little exposure to say blue light, typical of shadows and home lighting or campfires or mixed lighting.
The question then pops up do we want the colors to look 1-normal/real, say holding the warm glow of the fire or the cold blue found in the shade or 2-normal/real as if lit by sunlight?
Some wonderful reading here...
I'm a member of the "high contrast" (minimized light pollution in the shadows) group. One of the side benefits of living in a rural area is much improved star gazing due to less light pollution. If the dark sky is polluted with city lights the..... stars..... just.... ain't ..... there..... and there ain't no fixin' that. If I want my sky (shadows) polluted I'll turn on the yard lights and face them upwards... that's a-kin ta' "prefogging" my view.:)