May 26, 2017
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Kodak Opens Labs in Major Cities to Make Shooting on Film More Accessible Than Ever

Two new labs in London in New York match a growing demand for film development services.

Last year, we sat down with Kodak President Steve Bellamy, who told us all about Kodak's plans for the resurgence of film. While we've seen many big-budget productions pick up the mantle on this charge, many of our readers were quick to point out that the only real way to save film would be to have the same amount of labs, telecine facilities, and support services available as there were in the good old days. 

Kodak is fully aware of the limitations associated with a lack of film development services and is looking to rebuild quality labs in major cities across the world. 

Today, there are around 10 film labs left in the United States, but the risks and expenses associated with shipping film stock outweigh the benefits for many filmmakers. Kodak is fully aware of the limitations associated with a lack of development services and is looking to take matters into its own hands by rebuilding quality labs in major cities across the world. It's going to be a huge effort, but with an encouraging announcement earlier this month, it seems to be going full-steam ahead. 

"Westworld" is one of the many television productions to shoot on film. Credit: HBO

In a memo published earlier last week, Kodak announced a partnership with the largest production house in the UK, Pinewood Studios, home to the production of Star Wars among other major blockbusters. 

"Kodak has signed a 5-year lease on part of the Ken Adam Building at Pinewood Studios in the UK to establish a new film negative processing lab," the announcement reads. "The parties will also work together on co-branding initiatives and promotions." 

Darren Woolfson, Group Director of Technology for Pinewood, said, "This move signifies our support for the continued ability of filmmakers to choose to shoot their films on physical film in the UK. We’re proud to be collaborating with Kodak in this endeavour.” 

Nigel Bennett, Director of Creative Services for Pinewood Group added, "We are keen to support the infrastructure for physical film for those directors and cinematographers who prefer this format."

Back in the states, Kodak recently acquired a film-processing lab in Atlanta, Georgia, where film is already being processed for The Walking Dead and other major film and television productions. The last film lab in New York City shuttered its doors nearly four years ago, but Kodak will reopen and operate a lab in Queens later this year, which will service 35mm, S16, and Super 8 film processing and scanning.       

Featured image from AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' shot on 16mm film that is processed in Kodak's Atlanta facility

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5 Comments

Cool. I think these film companies can be sustainable today. They just need to manage expectations and act like smaller companies rather than the behemoths they used to be. Their glory days are never coming back, but they can always fill a smaller niche.

My only beef is that (with the exception of some B&W stocks and the latest rerelease of Ektachrome) it's mostly newer film stocks. Which is not bad. But part of the appeal of film for me is the vintage look that older stocks can offer. They aren't really around anymore. A lot of those older looks I have never seen anyone recreate in digital. At least in a convincing way. Despite many saying it's possible, I haven't seen it. So it would be great if they could release a few more of these older less accurate color film stocks. But again, they have to manage expectations so I don't expect it to happen. Same with with a ton of new labs. I don't expect Kodak to open one in Detroit anytime ever, but NYC is no more local to me than anywhere else in the country.

May 26, 2017 at 12:38PM, Edited May 26, 12:40PM

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Mike Tesh
Pro Video / Indie Filmmaker
498

It seems that one way to help make this work might be for Kodak to outfit a motorhome as a mobile lab to process 35mm negative film and if possible, either print 35mm dailies or telecine the processed negative to create a one-light video daily. The mobile lab would be maintained by Kodak to their specifications and rented out to the production on location. I'm not sure if such a mobile lab's requirements (water, power, etc.) could be met on location, but if not, the mobile lab could at least be set up in the nearest town in order to service the location production.
This would serve as an alternative to shipping the exposed film stock from location.

May 28, 2017 at 5:58PM

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Like Alpha Grip's mobile Alpha Lab trailers.

May 31, 2017 at 2:03AM

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Jeremy
Director of Photography
79

It's one thing for a film company to be sustainable, it's another thing for film to be sustainable in the motion picture industry.

New labs can be good, but film is much more than just throwing stock through a lab.

There need to be new camera bodies manufactured. Film cameras are wonders of mechanical engineering, but being mechanical they are prone to wear. There needs to be enough camera bodies so your shoot begins when you want, not when a body is available. There also need to be extra bodies so that if there is an issue, a new body can be drop shipped to a set.

Right now as an industry, the best of the old bodies are being upkept and availability decides when you can shoot. If film actually takes off the constant stress of production on a dwindling number of mechanical devices will deplete the supply.

On top of that if enough productions shoot at the same time there need to be support experts that can go to set to troubleshoot issues.

New labs, new cameras, new scanners, new camera tech's and new films stocks are what is needed for film to truly stick around.

May 30, 2017 at 8:21PM

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Joseph Slomka
Color Scientist - Acquisition through archival
341

Just a 2 cent,

''
Today, there are around 10 film labs left in the United States, but the risks and expenses associated with shipping film stock
outweigh the benefits for many filmmakers
''

This. This is the single reason why film has become the 2nd medium (and nearly extinct). That Kodak wished to
give to possibility for filmmakers to make their films physically on 35mm pellicule is incredible and gives
them choice - But, there is a but :

''but the risks and expenses associated with shipping film stock
outweigh the benefits for many filmmakers''.

So, I think this initiave is why it will stay, as said, a niche thing; but, still a good thing (choice), and
these films made on 35mm will have a special 'cachet' to them (that cachet is called Cash(Cachet$$$)) and
look like 'how films used to look' back in the old days; soft, deep, rich colors and constrats; just like
regular analog processed photos of old times. I think it will remain a special thing : only blockbusters
will capable of getting this film treatment. The Walking Dead is getting it because they are massively
blockbuster series (rich). Indie filmmakers can forget about that, unless they team with people
who have these huge budgets or rack-up money on crowdfunding campaigns (kickstarters/don't hold your breath).

Digital Filmmaking is a revolution : because it is cheap, fast, efficient for *much less/much much more affordable - unlike 35mm which is expensive
and money makes the film industry go round or die of it (as 35 mm suffered by its own price problem, could never change that...).

Without digital, I could never make my film - as it all made in a computer (Computer Imagery) thank goodness, I know that sounds really off-sounding;
but some people make films Other ways than shooting on 35mm pellicule; this is old gold standard, still stands, but is changing;
it's not so important anymore)). I think it's because there is also a grievance (of it being gone) and a reluctance (of it being gone), and
another reluctance (of accepting digital as good (not good enough - too 'digital/fake'; I think we can emulate anykind of 'real' 35mm
camera - it will happen; emulation can emulate anything; even a negative light-chemical process - it's all numbers and we can code that.
Light laws can be coded and emulated. Same for pellicule properties and infinitely small frame distortions made by this pellicule (and that
make it 'authentic and unique/genuine 35mm')). I thought that digital filmmaking at 'Reached The Max' and couldn't be better - I was wrong
and it keeps on getting better, and better and better; as it adds more and more fidelity and infinitely small details (that are near-invisible
but that our brain picks-up and 'knows' it's a 35mm).

Fooled. That's what movie magic is about, digital movie magic is now about, fooling you into thinking it's all made on 35mm and 'in a real world';
when in fact, it's all made in some studios with green screens and empty air; and all 'made in a computre'. So, now do you believe ?

35mm is thus a good and bad thing, good because it's 35mm and gives that beautiful image, give that film option;
bad because no one uses it because it died from it's price and unaffordability at large. Could not market it to mass market indie filmmakers on shoestring budget = bankruptcy.
Digital (0$ price) solved that.

If it ever does come affordable, people might come back to it; until then, I think the next 100 years are digital
made, as the last 100 ones were made analog 35mm. Still, certain rich filmmakers or Series Filmmakers (like TWD) who get the big budgets
can make 35mm films, that's great for them (the rest will not be able to afford this, it makes no sense when digital filiming is micro-fraction price
and thus, mostly useless for them/does not apply (does not apply 'to budget')); one more option for them.

Just a 2 cent (2 cents it's good price, very low and it applies to digital price; physical media (pellicule) 2 cents per frame = pricey).

June 4, 2017 at 2:05PM

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