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Bold prediction: film will become cheaper in the medium to long term


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Right now, if you look at film prices, film isn't getting any cheaper. Some types of film are still affordable, at least for still photography, but the prices aren't exactly coming down. This is the opposite of digital where every year we get more value for our dollar.

However, I have a hypothesis that states that film will actually become cheaper in the future. It has to do with the price of silver and the emergence of cryptocurrencies as an asset class which will flip precious metals in the medium term.

2020 was a very important year for crypto. It saw very significant institutional adoption. Not that institutions didn't hold crypto before, but now it has ramped up by a large margin. Several corporations hold millions and millions and millions of dollars worth of crypto. At the moment it's mainly Bitcoin and Ether, but it won't be this way for long. Eventually you are going to see institutions purchase large sums of other coins.

But that is just one half of the equation. If institutions are spending millions on crypto, then what are they not buying? Precious metals. Make no mistake: gold in particular will never be dirt cheap. But, I do foresee the market capitalisation of gold come down in the next few years, to the point where the market cap of Bitcoin alone will flip it.

Right now I have no solid data, but we have seen a slight downtrend in the price of gold for the past six months. This is not proof of anything, but some would say that we should expect to see gold well over $2,000/oz by now.

Interestingly enough, the price of silver has been more or less steady for the past six months, being centred at around $25/oz. I have no financial or economic background so I can't fathom why this is. I do know that there are many types of buyers for precious metals. Industrial buyers like Kodak are one class. Investors are another class entirely, and if investors more away from precious metals and towards digital assets, then it is logical to conclude that the prices of precious metals will decline eventually.

I can speak only for myself, and I have no interest in buying precious metals for my portfolio, as modest as it currently is. I have put my spare cash into crypto, and some play money into shares. Some people would go the other way, but crypto has already proven itself as an asset class. In fact I see it as a superior asset class to almost everything else. Give me a million bucks and I will spend 90% of it on crypto assets and 10% on shares. I will buy no precious metals, real estate or bonds.

And so, if I'm correct, the price of silver will decrease significantly as investors transfer their wealth to crypto. And because of that, the price of film stocks will come down. This price reduction could spur further adoption of film in still and motion capture, which will reduce the price slightly again.

There are other factors which could affect film prices either way, such as the availability of other raw materials. For example, Fuji is stopping production of Fujicolor 400H simply because they can't obtain a particular ingredient. I'm sure you all heard that news recently. And who foresaw the events of the past 12 months? I sure didn't. So time will tell if I am right or not.

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Well they don't have to worry about that anymore  , Tyler has clearly stated Silver is  a very stable priced commodity ... weirdly in contradiction with the worlds commodity traders ..   according to

Why argue about such thing? After all, for those who want to shoot on film only thing that matters is sustainability of film manufacturing and availability of film & cameras. It's all relativ

Covid has destroyed the film market, totally obliterating what little bit of it existed. Companies like Kodak, can't stay afloat by selling camera negative, they make their money on print stock. Since

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Film is a niche market, with a product that is both expensive and increasingly difficult to manufacture. Stock prices have stabilized based on the cost of production and customer demand. Should the cost of production fall for any reason, such as the price of silver dropping, it will result in higher profit margins for the manufacturers, not lower prices for the consumer. No manufacturer willingly drops its prices when it has already been established that its customer base is willing to pay a premium.

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The volume of trade in the global capital markets is in the tens of trillions of dollars. At this moment, cryptocurrencies are a drop in the bucket. Maybe at some point in the future things will change. But, that's a very long debate.  

The only way for film price to go down is return to economy of scale. I would guess the same for scanning and processing cost. The market is just too small now, and that entails higher production cost per unit. 

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Covid has destroyed the film market, totally obliterating what little bit of it existed. Companies like Kodak, can't stay afloat by selling camera negative, they make their money on print stock. Since YCM separations are being done less and less these days and restoration/archiving is not done in the lab anymore, we're seeing a precipitous change in the way Kodak (the last color stock maker) does their business. Most of the motion picture division staff left in 2019 at the first signs of company instabilities. Since 2020 was a complete bust both principal photography AND print wise, 2021 looking so far to be the same, I can't imagine Kodak's pricing staying the same. They already did a pretty large bump Jan 2020 and my guess is, they'll do it again this year, I haven't asked yet. Kodak did sign new studio contracts to guarantee a certain amount of film being shot, but those productions are probably not happening yet. The lab prices are also going up, so are scanning prices. Every added penny compounds and makes it more difficult to work on film. 

I think motion picture film will continue rising in cost and thanks in part to hyperinflation and a recession that's about to hit us, people will be less inclined to spend the money on shooting motion picture film. With so many theaters in dire straits, we're going to see many venue's that normally play film, not make it out in one piece, OR dramatically change what they've done in the past. This post covid world is going to be a whole new ballgame. 

Where I'm not ready to give up quite yet, there are some good things on the horizon that will change the dynamic. I'm much more concerned with what will remain post covid, post recession, post potential underground civil war, then worried about film honestly. Film will always be around in one way or another. The cost won't matter to a Muti-million dollar film. But it will make a huge difference to people like me and that's the sad part. 

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22 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

Film is a niche market

All my clients do is shoot film and generally pre-covid, we're slammed. You can't even rent film cameras in LA most of the time because they're all out on shoots, even the ones in private hands. By the end of 2019 things were looking really good for film in general, 5 theatrical bound films were set to release on 35mm and 70mm in 2020, but thanks to covid it didn't happen. That's not a niche market at all. 

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OP, don't buy it. I'm not saying film may fluctuate some in price, but nothing dramatic as you seem to suggest. Silver is just a little part of film's cost. Remember silver skyrocketed in 1980s. Cost didn't kill film back then...digital eventually did.

Silver Price History

Silver Prices - 100 Year Historical Chart | MacroTrends

 

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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I would like to agree on film's future but it is hard to do so. There may be plenty of projects being shot on film, but in reality, how much of the stock is purchased from Kodak directly as opposed to Reel Good type places? Unless you buy directly from Kodak, you're only exposing film that is already in circulation as opposed to contributing to the company itself by buying new product. Also, realistically, how much film is being shot in feet as opposed to what it was? Shooting a few thousand here and there will be like lunch money for Kodak. Features or long term projects that shoot hundreds or millions of feet film matter because the rest is unfortunately just some pocket change for Kodak's big picture. I hope I will be proven wrong don't get me wrong.

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9 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

All my clients do is shoot film and generally pre-covid, we're slammed. You can't even rent film cameras in LA most of the time because they're all out on shoots, even the ones in private hands. By the end of 2019 things were looking really good for film in general, 5 theatrical bound films were set to release on 35mm and 70mm in 2020, but thanks to covid it didn't happen. That's not a niche market at all. 

What your clients do or don't do is insignificant in a global market. Film origination is a tiny percentage compared to the millions of hours of footage shot digitally, worldwide, every year.

Niche market is a term for a small subset of a larger market, which means it describes film origination very accurately. If you have a problem with the term, I suggest you go argue with a dictionary, not me.

 

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Why argue about such thing? After all, for those who want to shoot on film only thing that matters is sustainability of film manufacturing and availability of film & cameras.

It's all relative. When film enthusiasts say there is a bright future for film, they definitely don't mean "as in the 1980s" but rather, "compared to 2014".

 

It's also about how film is seen nowadays:

Ten years ago: Yay, the dinosaur is going to die! Yay, new democratized filmmaking, lots of Ks and digital bliss!

Now: Wow, film is so authentic! Lets shoot on that!

 

Sometimes it can be easy to forget that the whole context around us has changed. I mean, many camera manufacturers are shutting camera business as people are happy using their mobiles to take photos, same for video. Who is the winner there? Did "digital" win?

 

Please don't let this forum become a mirror reality of Photrio. There old film enthusiasts wait for filmapocalypse and build their bunkers made of freezers, stacked full of film decades old, while reminescing how in the good ol' 1960s Kodachrome cost only nickels and dimes or something like that. They can't see anything bright as they are so stuck in the past - their joy is to say: never trust Kodak, they are just rearranging the deck seats.

 

Resurrecting late 2000s film vs. digital here is similar. Finding joy in telling how useless those small film projects are and prophesying the inevitable death of film. Too few feet film, too much digital.

 

I can't really see anyone benefiting from such discourse. I'd rather find joy in such news as that Kodak is having trouble supplying photographic film as the demand is so high nowadays. To those who it concerns, it is good news. To those it doesn't, well - I hope you don't generally find fulfillment in telling survivors of xyz they'll nevertheless die sooner or later? 😉

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13 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

What your clients do or don't do is insignificant in a global market. Film origination is a tiny percentage compared to the millions of hours of footage shot digitally, worldwide, every year.

That could have been said for that last 30 years or so. Television created WAY more content than theatrical world wide. I mean in 2020 there were "supposed" to be 45 theatrical bound movies shot on film. 5 of them distributed on motion picture film as well. 

"Niche" is the local craft beer only sold at the shed down the street. 
"Niche" is the flatbread pizza place in the barn around the corner that you say is the best in the world. 
"Niche" is the $67,000 speaker cable to connect your $150,000 speakers too. 

When millions of people are shooting/using film in the US alone, that's no longer niche. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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Film will be just fine. Killers of The Flower Moon is starting next month for a seven month shoot, David O.Russell's next one is shooting right now (probably on film). Paul Thomas Anderson shot his latest film a few months ago on 35mm as always. Patty Jenkins only shoots on film and she's got three huge films lined up: Rogue Squadron, Wonder Woman 3 and Cleopatra. I'm guessing/hoping that Indy 5 (directed by James Mangold) will be film too. No Time To Die is releasing (probably pushed back to Fall 2021), A Quiet Place Part 2 as well (film), Shyamalan's Old (he actually paid the extra himself to go back to film on this one), Death On The Nile, Last Night in Soho, Mission Impossible 7, The French Dispatch, West Side Story and so on.

There are also obviously other films shooting that we don't know of, then all the directors currently shooting on film are going to continue to shoot on film. 

Edited by Manu Delpech
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2 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

When millions of people are shooting/using film in the US alone, that's no longer niche. 

You’re going to need to provide some proof for that number, else it’s just another of your made up statistics.

 

2 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

"Niche" is the local craft beer only sold at the shed down the street. 
"Niche" is the flatbread pizza place in the barn around the corner that you say is the best in the world. 
"Niche" is the $67,000 speaker cable to connect your $150,000 speakers too. 

You should go read a dictionary before you argue this point.

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15 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

OP, don't buy it. I'm not saying film may fluctuate some in price, but nothing dramatic as you seem to suggest. Silver is just a little part of film's cost. Remember silver skyrocketed in 1980s. Cost didn't kill film back then...digital eventually did.

Silver Price History

Silver Prices - 100 Year Historical Chart | MacroTrends

 

You are right about the first point - silver is indeed only part of the cost. And I have no doubt that Kodak invests in some kind of index which guarantees them a more steady price as long as they buy a minimum amount each quarter. Airlines sometimes do this to guarantee fuel prices. I can't recall what the actual term is, though.

As for the history of silver prices, keep in mind that I have no argument with history. I am merely arguing about the future. 😉 

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8 minutes ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

As for the history of silver prices, keep in mind that I have no argument with history. I am merely arguing about the future. 😉 

As with any retail item, the price of film is determined by market research into what the customer will pay, rather than base production costs.

Nike sneakers did not suddenly get cheaper when they cut production costs by shifting manufacturing to Asia. Cars did not get cheaper when production moved to Mexico.

Prices are always set close to the maximum the market will support. There’s no reason for manufacturers to do otherwise.

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16 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

Prices are always set close to the maximum the market will support. There’s no reason for manufacturers to do otherwise.

Competition influences price, along with other things. It depends on the industry.

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17 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

You’re going to need to provide some proof for that number, else it’s just another of your made up statistics.

Right because there is a database on who shoots film. LOL 

Whatever, it's not worth arguing with someone who doesn't care. 

 

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17 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

You should go read a dictionary before you argue this point.

Whatever bro, you have no idea what you're talking about. Keep shooting digital enjoy. 

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As Kodak is the only manufacturer of color film at the moment, there is a good chance that film could disappear in any day. I don't think more producers, planning to use film in the next few years can guarantee its survival. There are financial considerations that Kodak as a company has to face that could push it to fold altogether, such as debt, asset value, labor contracts, etc. 

My question is: is it feasible at all for a new small company to manufacture color negative? Or is the complexity of the process that high that it's impossible? 

When CDs came to market in the mid 80s they killed Vinyl within a few years and all vinyl pressing plants stopped operating. A few years later, small firms such as Classic Records and others, started pressing vinyl in small quantities for what became a "niche" market (I hope I'm not going to get in trouble for using that word 😊). Is there any chance that something like that could happen to film? If Kodak shuts down tomorrow, is film gone forever?

Edited by Raymond Zananiri
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5 hours ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

Competition influences price, along with other things. It depends on the industry.

Kodak had competition from Fuji for years. Their prices were almost identical.

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9 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Right because there is a database on who shoots film. LOL 

There’s no database? So you admit that you just made that number up?  The “millions” of film shooters in the US is just another of your fabrications? Hardly a surprise from the guy who famously “didn’t state any facts”, but thanks for coming clean.

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9 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Whatever bro, you have no idea what you're talking about. Keep shooting digital enjoy. 

Unfortunately for you, Tyler, I do know what I’m talking about. It’s sad that a grown man refuses to do something as basic as checking a dictionary before he argues the meaning of a term, but that’s you through and through.

This thread isn’t about film vs digital, and in any case, at no point did I express a preference for either format. Of course, I’m not surprised that you didn’t actually read the original posts before you jumped in with your fake statistics and straw man attacks. After all, it wouldn’t be a Tyler Purcell post if it was actually informed.

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11 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

There’s no database? So you admit that you just made that number up?  The “millions” of film shooters in the US is just another of your fabrications? Hardly a surprise from the guy who famously “didn’t state any facts”, but thanks for coming clean.

It's self evident how many people shoot film when you're part of the community. I'm also talking stills by the way, not just motion picture. There are probably only a few thousand people who shoot motion picture. But the stills market is huge. It's rare I go somewhere these days and NOT see someone with a film camera, very very rare. I was just on a hike yesterday and passed a group of people with film cameras. 

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11 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

It’s sad that a grown man refuses to do something as basic as checking a dictionary before he argues the meaning of a term, but that’s you through and through.

Niche is a specialized part of a market. I don't consider film special at all. It's been around for over 150 years. There are a multitude of companies around the world making film and processing it. In fact the "instmatic" industry is buzzing with companies like Fuji making NEW cameras. The only way you could call it niche is if you're simply blind to its existence. 

11 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

This thread isn’t about film vs digital, and in any case, at no point did I express a preference for either format. Of course, I’m not surprised that you didn’t actually read the original posts before you jumped in with your fake statistics and straw man attacks. After all, it wouldn’t be a Tyler Purcell post if it was actually informed.

I wasn't the one who came on here with zero knowledge of what's going on and then express that film is "niche", when you can buy brand new instamatic cameras at target. Come on man, wake up. 

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