Confessions Of A Film Zealot IV

Way way way back in the day when I shot a hell of a lot of film I got used to having virtually no support from Kodak, Fuji, or Ilford. First of all the concept of support for film didn't even exist in terms of evangelism or technical support or anything like that. Any type of technical support was entirely between you and your lab or for you to figure out on your own.

In terms of supporting it's use and therefore you because you used it… Hmmm not really. If you were a rockstar of the industry you might get a paid endorsement but not regular old people that made most of the images. What you did get is some reasonable degree of marketing from these companies with fantastically awesome product brochures, some really great technical guides to their products like the Kodak Black and White Darkroom Dataguide, things like that.

A few decades later - everything changes. The way things are marketed. The way things are advertised. The way products - especially niche products are sponsored and promoted. Everything. One of the things that I don't really like about being a film shooter is that I feel so very much alone in this endeavor. I actually feel like I care about it more than the people that make the stuff.

Let's take web presence as just one tiny little example and things associated with product information and promotion in the 21st century. If you are a film shooter in any sense at all, where do you go to get information, see usage examples, learn about products, get ideas, and talk to a community of like minded individuals? The film manufacturer's web site?

Yea right - these static sites are worse than useless. They are dead - film isn't dead but the manufacturers do their best to make it seem this way. It's hard to even find the product pages for the most part. Most of them are outdated and if not have no information on the product. No featured users of today, no excited customers, no stories, no blog, no community, nothing. Even the PDF brochures for the few products they still make are… let's say thin. Everything you can say about all the Kodak B+W films in like 2 pages? Really? Same with the Porta and Ektar films combined?

If Kodak and Fuji and Ilford and the other eastern european companies making film plan to continue doing this at all they better do at least a little better job of helping to promote it, support it's users, and build community around their products. It really shouldn't be that difficult - the people that still shoot it are certainly dedicated true-believer zealot types. All it would take is a tiny bit of effort and reach out on their part and my guess is they would generate a TON of interest and response.

What do we get from Kodak in terms of product promotion and support? Hmmmm, let's see. We get the Kodak twit (my code name for the kodak twitter person). She splits her time between twitter and all things Kodak - bad idea. The number of relevant or interesting posts from the Kodak twit to me - an avid Kodak film user and supporter is exactly NONE. Well I am not telling the truth. In the first half of 2012 there was exactly ONE post and that was by a guest blogger - which is fine but if you bury this in with bullshit digital camera things, and crappy kodak inkjet paper stuff, and how to save money on ink using a printer I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole, and other such non-sense (from a film shooters perspective) you will generate exactly zero audience. Sure blog about that stuff if need be but don't try to support your film business by mixing all that stuff together. Not a good idea.

I don't think Leica does a great job at this either but at least get to where they are with some sort of focus. Yes I know the camera company is now different than the other crap. So make the film divisions different and speak to their real audience and potential audience. Hell they rose from the ashes with a viable luxury company with less to go on in terms of emotional and historical artifacts than Kodak. I mean really you guys OWN TRI-X. This stuff IS photography, even more so than the Leica M.

The best that you can do is this crappy page? Really. At least do a little work and curate a hub of all the other people talking about and using your stuff. You would be amazed at what a little work on your part would do in terms of the amount of participation and enthusiasm of your film customers but you the manufacturer must be the cheerleader here. Give us something to organize around. Get us excited about you.

Same goes for you Fuji and Ilford. We have the X100/X1/Xwhatever fujiguy. Where is the fujiFILM guy? Get with it. You guys now have a luxury user base. We already pay a premium to use your product to make pictures. Maybe you should get a clue. If Leica can get people excited about an $8000 black and white camera you guys should certainly be able to generate a bit more excitement about freaking TRI-FREAKING-X.


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