The UK annual inflation rate dropped slightly from 9.2% to 8.9% between February and March 2023 but remains significantly high compared to other years. Within this inflation all areas have been wholly affected, one particularly being the arts scene. Theatres closing, lack of funding for the general arts, and rise in supply funds. One specific outcome of this is the film roll.
In such a newly creative sphere of film photography, the demand for the film roll has significantly risen. When assuming a new price, film manufacturers are very keen to respond to profits and manufacturing costs. For example, chemicals used to create the film rolls are dependent on the production of oils, a substance seen largely within the rising costs. Others, such as black and white film, rely on silver, a substance so dependent on mining and markets. 2022 saw Kodak hire 300 new people onto their staff to up the manufacturing turnaround of their film, but in a time of mass demand, it is still not enough.
2023 has seen film retailers grasping the same wave as manufacturers, increasing the price of film significantly. It used to be the case that as Kodak responded quicker in their market prices, black and white remained similar. Now we can see Ilford responding very similarly. For example, a roll of Ilford FP4 black and white film would have usually cost me between £7-9 depending on where I got it from (depending on if it was a general camera shop or a hipster gallery), I recently bought a new roll having not updated my mass collection in well over a year and stood there with my jaw wide open as the till read £14.99. £14.99 for 36 exposures, around £2.40 per frame/picture. This all being before the roll is finished and developed/scanned/printed.
Why have I discussed the inflating living costs and film? Because it is yet again another example of, what would be viewed as, a minute community that is just completely affected by inflation. However, if you’re thinking of getting into film, or are like me and struggle to balance the love for film and student life I have some tips.
Drop the point and shoot, go completely manual. It’s scary to rely on a newfound skill especially when you don’t even get an idea if a picture is shown in the frame until after it's all paid for the manual will guarantee the quick cute capture shots you wish for, but the process will ultimately be slower, more considered. Half and quarter-frame cameras are cool ideas to reduce the expense of film and are fun and experimental. The price per frame significantly drops per frame and you get two or maybe four chances to capture that shot per one frame. Finally, use cheaper, crappier brands. At the end of the day, it’s not the film, it's you. Some films do support colours over others, reds over greens, etc. but a general Kodak Gold 200 will supply as good pictures as Kodak Portra (whatever iso) which has now risen to a good £15-20 per roll.