Since I dove into the world of analog photography, the idea of bringing a film to the market as been a sort of fantasy but the dream actually came true! Today I’m proud to present my first film: Street Candy ATM400. Before introducing the film itself, I want to share with you how I came up with the idea and what it took to make this a reality. This might give ideas to some of you wondering where to start on trying it yourself.
The idea of bringing my own film to market has always been there somewhere in my head since my early days exploring film. Meeting with people like Bellamy Hunt (Japan Camer Hunter), or Lomig Perottin (Film Washi) and seeing what they have accomplished with relatively limited resources but infinite passion has given me the motivation to do it myself.
Of course, I’m not even remotely close to what these guys are doing but I wanted to bring something of my own to the film community. It took some efforts, and there is still a lot to accomplish if I want this adventure to continue but the first step is always to most difficult when going on a new journey!
From dream to reality
My first step was to find a film stock. I didn’t want my film to be another rebrand of something that’s already on the market, it had to be a little more exotic. So, I looked for a film that nobody was currently selling and luckily someone I know had a batch of something that would bring that touch of exoticism!
With a few test rolls in hand, I ran a little teasing – mostly on Instagram – with my first samples. I wanted to gauge the interest around this new film and it didn’t take long before people started to get in touch asking what was this about. Without too much of a surprise, I found the interest was there and lots of you wanted to try it out.
After finding an unused batch of film and getting the approval of the community, what took me the most time was working on the logo and brand identity. I went back and forth countless times with my friend Jordan Lockhart from Cameraville.co, who helped me with fine tuning the designs.
He’s been my first support since I got into this project and he even came up with the name STREET CANDY, so THANK YOU Jordan! By the way, he’s also our exclusive online distributor.
Let’s talk about ATM400
What’s special about it is that it was initially used in security cameras for banks; especially ATMs. Every person who would withdraw money would have his/her portrait taken with this film. As these machines are relatively small, they had to make compromises on everything that was inside. To save as much space as possible while getting a maximum of pictures, they had to use a thinner film base. Instead of the standard 100 µm, the emulsion is coated on a 65 µm base. This is why it’s so thin but still resistant enough to be used in any film cameras.
It is a standard 400 ISO Panchromatic emulsion that gives contrasty images which usually works well for street photography. Until now we have followed the development chart for ILFORD HP5 PLUS and it has given satisfying results.
I guess the manufacturer also had to make compromises on the film cost and reduced the amount of silver on the coating. This is why we usually don’t recommend push processing it more than 1-stop (IE 800). We have tried shooting it at 1600 but the negatives turned out really thin and images underexposed. However, if you find a suitable developer that will be gentle with the emulsion, we’d love to hear about it!
For more information, please refer the data-sheet available on our website.
Some of you asked me why the first batch was limited to 500 rolls only. There are 2 reasons to that:
- The stock we discovered was an unused roll a few hundred meters long. This kind of set the limits of what we could produce. The good thing is that we should be able to order more of this film if there’s continued demand for it.
- The second limitation was my funds. I had to invest using my personal savings. This covered purchase, respooling, 35mm canisters and leader trimming. Each step adds a few cents to each roll, which forced me to revise my ambitions and stay focused on the essential.
The initial plan was to have a nice custom metal box as packaging but in the end I decided against custom packaging, a significant savings which I can pass on to my customers – who probably care more about what’s in the box than the box itself. Though I am still working on sourcing cost effective custom packaging for the future.
What’s next for STREET CANDY
Mid-term: Now that we have finalised the distribution though Cameraville.co and delivered the first wave of orders we can focus on the second batch. We aim to make a 1000 rolls this time but that will depend on the film supplier, which we hope will be able to provide us more of this film. Meanwhile, we still have a bit of film left from the first batch to make a few more rolls.
Long-term: My goal is to support the film manufacturer and help them to keep their production lines open. We’ve all seen what happened with Fujjfilm, so I’m doing what I can to keep these guys busy. I think the community has understood my approach and thanks to the moral support I’ve received, I’m already looking at adding new products to the line with other film stocks that are still relatively unknown.
In the future, I’d also love to make disposable cameras with ATM 400 and why not even bring it to market in 120 format?! The last one is probably going to a challenge because for what I know, the film supplier cuts it only in 35mm so that will most likely remain as another fantasy…for now.
I’ll conclude by thanking anyone who’s been supporting me in this adventure. From preparing the rolls, designs, shipping and the incredible support from the community in spreading the word. If you’d had told me 2 years ago that I would be shooting exclusively with film, or even selling one, I would have never believed you!
Selling my digital cameras was definitely a scary move and even although I’ve have questioned this decision on occasion, I’ve never regretted it (ok, the smell of fixer may have helped a little!). Making that switch completely shifted my approach to photography and I encourage anyone who hasn’t made the jump yet, to try committing to film, even for a short period.
~ Vincent Moschetti
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