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Hollywood directors unite in backing Kodak decision to save celluloid

The Kodak logo new and old
The Kodak logo new and oldphoto courtesy of Creative Commons

Kodak was ready to close its doors – starting with their last production plant in Rochester, NY – until a slew of Hollywood directors stepped in to yield the shut down. The group of celluloid savers includes Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Judd Apatow, J.J. Abrams, and more recently, Martin Scorsese.

Thus, allowing celluloid the opportunity to film another day. According to Deadline, CEO Jeff Clarke stated, “after extensive discussions with filmmakers, leading studios and others who recognize the unique artistic and archival qualities of film, we have in place a plan that will enable is to continue production [of film stock].” Kodak will produce about 450M linear feet of film, which compared to 2006 equates to only 1/28 of its output due to Hollywood’s shift to digital recording.

Clarke shared statistics of the company’s decline saying, “Kodak’s sales of motion picture film have declined by 96% over the last ten years, with an acceleration of the decline over the last two years due to the rapid completion of the conversion to digital display of movies worldwide." Clarke maintains a positive reality explaining that the minor focus on film production will contribute about 6% in revenue, carrying the company long enough to shift their focus on new markets, one of those being touch sensors.

A confirmed report by Kodak in The Wall Street Journal revealed that Warner Bros, Universal, Disney, Weinstein Co., and Paramount promised to purchase a set amount of film stock for several years helping Kodak stay afloat.

The directors that fell in love with film as being true art on celluloid in the early stages of their careers, are understandably having a difficult time letting go of film stock now. Scorsese acknowledged that shooting digital was an overall easier experience combined with great quality film in HD being the result. However, his argument: “Film, even now, offers a richer visual palette than HD…still the best and only time-proven way to preserve movies. We have no assurance that digital information will last, but we know that film will, if properly stored and cared for. Our industry – our filmmakers – rallied behind Kodak because we knew that we couldn’t afford to lose them, the way we’ve lost so many other film stocks. This news is a positive step towards preserving film, the art form we love.”

Kodak’s competitor Fujifilm withdrew from the film manufacturing business last year. Hopefully, Kodak can generate updated ideas and technology to stay alive. It would be a shame to see the company, responsible for a great history of imaging innovations, disappear.