I never open up the reel to remove the film. Just squeeze the edges of the film together slightly and the film will pull out very easily. I remove the film that way after it's developed and when I have trouble loading a reel (usually a 50 year old spool of 120 film that has a very strong curl) and want to start over. Anyway, you load the film on the reel the way the film naturally curls. Normally if the reel is dry, you shouldn't have much of a problem getting the film on the reel, so I'm not sure why yours is not going smoothly at the end. And yes, you load the film until it passes the ball bearings.