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Shooting and processing 35mm in Vancouver, BC

Alex Birrell

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Hi everyone,


I was wondering if anyone had any advice for shooting and processing 35mm in Vancouver, BC. I know there are no local labs anymore but it seems like cameras won't be a problem with Panavision and Keslow in the city.


In terms of processing and scanning it looks like either MELS in Montreal or Fotokem in Los Angeles would be the nearest options. Does anyone have any experience with lower end productions with either or both labs? This is for a low budget short film project (but with enough budget for film - I'm more concerned with how the film will be treated and how much of a customised experience it will be - I've had terrible best light rushes riddled with dust on a previous low budget project because of lack of interest of the lab and had to get everything retransferred!)


Also, can anyone fill me in on safe practices for shipping exposed but unprocessed negative and/or recommend a good shipping company for it?


Many thanks!

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Well, your best bet all the way across the board is Panavision. They do great deals and have a well maintained camera.


In terms of lab work... Fotokem is the most expensive lab in the US today. Their processing rate is high, but manageable... it's the transfer rate that will kill you.


They charge $350/hr for 1080p telecine and $0.11/frame for 4k and higher scans. Cinelab in Boston, MA charges .30/ft for process + 1080p transfer. .40/ft for process and 4k scan.


Since you aren't local to either lab, the "risk" of shipping is nearly the same from where you are to Fotokem or Boston. The problem then lies with the lab work itself.


Now I send everything I shoot personally to Cinelab and most of my clients use FotoKem. I do think both labs do nearly the same quality work, they're both clean, they won't leave dirt on your film or anything like that. My heads and tails are always spotless and the transfers are always good.


So it just depends on the risk really. For a short film, you can probably risk more than on a feature for instance.


Shipping is a huge problem due to Xray scanning done with most shipping companies. Ground shipping however is a very different business than air. So that's one thing to think about. Everything that goes on an airplane is scanned, not everything that goes into a truck is scanned.


I've not had an issue with Xray damage yet... I've sent cinelab tons of 500 ISO film and it's always come out fine.


So there ya got it... lots of ancillary info, but I hope 'good' info from personal experiences!

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It sucks for both of us (me and OP) that Alpha Cine over here in Seattle folded. Now everything has to be shipped around the world, risking exposure to x-rays.


I do find it odd that you can't find processing in Vancouver. I've lived there in the 90's and a lot of film work was being done.

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We get a lot more recans and short ends - a lot of these "re-cans" are actually completely untouched and are left over from the bigger US productions being filmed in the UK. I've compared these prices with a similar supplier in L.A and the UK prices come out cheaper.

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You can't easily find out the UK list price now without getting in touch with Kodak directly but back in 2012 the Kodak catalogue price in the UK was a little cheaper than the US one - not sure about the Canadian one. It sometimes works out that way. I've looked at the digital options and I've been really surprised how much more hire companies in the US and Canada charge for the Alexa Mini compared to the UK too.

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Hi guys,


Thanks for all the answers! After a lot of research and consultation in seems we're going to have to shoot digital after all.


Panavision Vancouver were really helpful but made it clear that their film cameras were in storage and it would take a lot of money to get them out, serviced and ready for shooting. Keslow had a couple of camera options available but no 2 perf anymore.


EVERYONE commented how much it could risky to ship the film back and forth to Montreal despite MELS there being very helpful and immediately coming back with a quote. For this production it just seems too risky - we won't be able to reshoot anything if negative gets ruined/fogged/lost etc.


Would have been great but such a shame! Looks like Alexa with anamorphic so not too shabby at all but I was really looking forward to the 35mm experience!

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