I totally agree. it's a niche product unable to compete with digital, so it has to occupy a different space in the consumer mindset. In artistic and cultural terms this could be a silver [sic] lining. Kodaks' new films (Ektar and Portra) and their unique look are what got me back into film photography.
Originally Posted by pbromaghin
Any company buying Kodak assets to do this will need a lot of up-front capital, and that's where the problem lies. They have to cover operations, taxes, supplies, power, labour, management, etc. You have correctly identified the engineering resources being retained as critical. Absolutely. I would look not to the film photography clique for any saviour, because that's been coasting on the gross revenues of the motion picture side. There's where a white knight may be due to the strong allegiance and deep pockets of some very successful people who relied on film for their careers and have deeper pockets than anyone in static photography.
Financially, Kodak's film production and distribution cannot shrink as fast as the demand market is, and Kodak cannot see the bottom. Maybe someone wiser can if the production assets go for a fire sale. All I am saying is it's a lot of risk because the other side of the coin is the razor as opposed to the blade, and in 2004 Kodak (and others) stopped making film cameras. Now we have the other shoe dropping. Kodak was always relying on "someone else" to supply those cameras (at least Fuji has put our a couple of models in the last 5 years). Any purchaser of the film assets also has to rely on "someone else" to mas produce a few lines of cameras. Lomography is not that someone; their model is essentially parasitic, and now the host is dying.
The capital problem is that it may require miles of film production to be profitable, while demand may not equal miles of film. If there are no new cameras, then any investment is dependent on eBay and local sales of increasingly old equipment, and that equipment is sustained by a rapidly decreasing number of service companies.
That's a very difficult business model for any creditor extending capital to a white knight to get behind. That's the stumbling block I see, and it is huge because the issue is not a cash purchase of the assets, but the operational capital to keep it going. Distribution is especially problematic because of the high cost. You are right about centralized, internet-based marketing and distribution being key. This will also apply to (as Ilford has done) a mail order processing and scanning system. "...we do the rest" is a slogan in need of resurrecting.
For cameras, it's not Instamatic or Hawkeyes that are the need. It's higher quality, mid-priced stuff using decent glass, because a film camera will be a second (or third to the smartphone) camera for the enthusiast; a sidebar to their main digital shooter. Marketing will be nostalgia and heritage, and, ironically, convenience (there's a certain curse in having your PC as your darkroom). There will need to be PDAF autofocus in the mix, especially as high developing costs require less missed shots to avoid consumer disappointment. Any partnering is really a subsidy by the film manufacturer to the digital body, shutter, and lens maker. Will that premium passed along to the consumer be acceptable? Hard to say.