In November 2017, the first batch of 35mm Kosmo Foto Mono 100 made its way from the Czech Republic to Kosmo Foto HQ in south east London.
It was the culmination of nearly 18 months of planning; to follow in the pioneering footsteps of the likes of Japan Camera Hunter and release my first film.
In the ensuing 15 months, I’ve been nothing less than blown away by the amount of love and enthusiasm for the film. Nearly 15,000 rolls were sold in the first year – to photographers all over the globe, from Greenland to New Zealand – and the film has been stocked in the likes of London’s prestigious Photographer’s Gallery and Freestyle Photographic in the US.
Since the film was launched there’s been a steady stream of people asking if I planned to release a 120 version. It was always at the back of my mind, but the last few months the interest from both customers and retailers and stepped up.
So – if there haven’t been quite enough clues so far – Kosmo Foto Mono is being produced in 120, and the first batch can be pre-ordered from the Kosmo Foto shop right now.
It’s been a pretty momentous 18 months for Kosmo Foto; the launch of the first film has also been followed by postcards and stickers featuring the fantastic art of the film’s packaging designer, My Mate Does Art, plus leather film cases and the first in a line of must-have t-shirts, even if I do say so myself. [EM: Seconded!]
Adding a 120 version to the Mono range was always a no-brainer – it already exists, so it’s not like I had to commission a clutch of white-coated boffins to toil ceaselessly in some far-off lab – but there’s added impetus. Mono’s old style grain, much more pronounced than modern T-grain, looks lovely in 35mm but even better in 120. It really suits older lenses as well. So I for one am really curious to see the results shot in medium format cameras, especially some of the older models.
I’d have liked to have done this sooner, in fact in an ideal world it would have happened towards the tail end of last year. But the latter half of 2018 was a surprisingly challenging time sales wise. And not just for Kosmo Foto. The anecdotal evidence from people I’ve spoken to – from film sellers to distributors to retailers – is that sales took a dip for the latter half of last year. I’ve heard all sorts of reasons for it; a particularly hot summer around the world, the World Cup dominating people’s free time over the summer, and the launch of Kodak’s revived EKTACHROME, which is not a cheap film by any stretch of the imagination.
While it didn’t signal the end of the analogue revival we’ve all been enjoying, it does serve to show that film’s second wind can sometimes be a fragile thing. Trust me, you feel it more keenly when you have boxes of unsold film sitting in your warehouse.
Kosmo Foto has some ambitious plans over the next few years, and the release of Mono 120 is an important step forward. Yes, this is an existing film. Yes, as I’m constantly reminded, it’s “only a repackaged film”. But like it or not, films like this are an important part of the analogue revival. It gives extra work – and money – to all those steps in the supply chain that a complex product that film requires.
And when the cost of coming up with the first batch of a new black-and-white film is likely to cost £100,000, building a brand through films like these is the only sensible thing to do.
One small step for film, one giant leap for Kosmo-kind.
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