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Kodak film canisters (Pic: Ricardo Ortiz/Pexels)
Kodak’s film sales have rebounded in recent years, and the company is now looking for a new generation of technicians (Pic: Ricardo Ortiz/Pexels)

Eastman Kodak, the company which makes Kodak photographic films, has said it wants to hire more people for its film production division as demand for film continues to soar.

Nagraj Bokinkere, Eastman Kodak’s vice-president of film manufacturing, made the plea while appearing on the Get Real podcast for Great Rochester Enterprise, a business hub in the New York-state city where the film producer is based.

“Consumer demand, particularly for 35mm film, has exploded over the last few years,” Bokinkere says.

“Our retailers are constantly telling us they can’t keep these films on the shelves and they want more,’ Bokinkere told the podcast.

“So, really our strategy of being the last company standing in colour films, the last company making colour films in both consumer and motion picture is paying dividends. We literally cannot keep up with demand, we need more employees. We’re hiring,” said Bokinkere.

“Our film finishing area for example we have grown from a five days a week, single shift operation a few years back. To last year, we were three shifts, five days a week and now we are a 24/7 operation. In the last 18 months, we’ve hired over 300 people across the film and chemicals floor, and we’re looking to hire more.”

Bokinkere’s comments were later shared on Kodak’s Twitter account, with the post liked more than 12,000 times by the time of writing.

The recent increase in demand, however, has also been accompanied with some severe logistical problems since before the Covid pandemic

Kodak’s film sales have surged in the last five years, after a decade-and-a-half’s decline due to the rise of digital photography. Sales had dropped so much that in 2012 Kodak went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which gave it time to reorganise the business.

In 2020, Eastman Kodak said production of stills film had more than doubled between 2015 and 2019, sparked by renewed interest in shooting film. At the time, the general manager of film at Eastman Kodak, Ed Hurley, told NBC’s ‘Left Field’: “It’s been a steady increase – it’s gone up 15, 20 even 30% per year. It’s great for us, it’s been a challenge for us, but it’s been great for us to see that growth.”

The recent increase in demand, however, has also been accompanied with some severe logistical problems since before the Covid pandemic, with film often being in short supply. And photographers have also had to deal with a number of price rises in recent years, which Eastman Kodak has blamed on logistical issues, the rising cost of raw materials and production issues.

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Stephen Dowling
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11 months ago

And then next year, the fad will be over and they’ll lose their jobs. Film is not coming back in any significant sense, the same as vinyl records.