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Kodak is Staying in the Film Business

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By Ron Merk

I know this sounds like an odd thing to report, almost like saying that McDonald’s is staying in the fast food business. The fact is that Kodak has been literally synonymous with “film” for more than a century, but progress in the form of digital media has serious eroded Kodak’s position as king of the hill in the film business. Kodak laid off nearly 50,000 workers and closed many production lines in recent years due to the precipitous drop in demand for film material. Everyone who loves film has been holding their breath, waiting for a fateful announcement from Rochester that Kodak will, at some point, entirely discontinue the manufacture of film stock for motion picture use.

Well, just like the cliffhanger scenes in old B-pictures, the hero has been saved by some of the big studios, and an arrangement has been reached with Kodak to continue the manufacture of film, at least for the short term.

Several big Hollywood directors champion the idea of shooting on film including Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams, Judd Apatow and Quentin Tarantino, all of whom have recently made or are presently shooting their films on 35mm film or 70mm film in the case of “Interstellar.” They applied a great deal of pressure to the studios, and not wanting to upset their hotshot directors, the studios, in their wisdom or at least with a eye on the bottom line, have agreed to support film, for now.

The studios have entered into an agreement with Kodak that will assure the continued flow of different camera and duplicating stocks.

So, let out your breathe, and hope that this program proves fruitful to the studio bottom line and thinking, and that Kodak, the first name in film, will keep the factories rolling out the footage.

A personal note, and this may sound a bit odd, but one of my favorite smells in the world, right after babies’ heads, roses and bread first out of the oven, is the smell of a roll of film stock when you open the can of negative, or when film comes back from the lab. Yeah, I’m strange that way. But for now, we can continue to “smell the film.” Sorry, roses.

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