GRANDE AIRPORT SUMMARY
On March 18th I found myself again at the same Sushi Bar as exactly 6 days ago. There I had some time to summarize the developments of my savepackfilm efforts over some last Chirashi Sushi before Europe and an early morning beer.
The biggest challenge of this adventure is the astonishing fact of how “light tight” this giant black box called FujiFilm really is. Nobody seems to know anything, so it's incredibly hard to develop a better understanding of how to push the right buttons and offer useful proposals. Maybe this is caused by the fact that I don't have any personal contacts and don't share any history with Fujifilm, but honestly I think this is only a small part of the problem.
FujiFilm seems to be really famous for its very restrictive information policy. Inside but also outside of Japan. We would urgently need an “André Bosman” NOW!!! Sitting on a bench in Enschede with André back in 2008 and listening to all the details of how to keep this factory alive had been the big turning point for saving the last Polaroid factory.
“Dear Mrs or Mr. Fuji Packfilm insider! As you have produced this wonderful material for so many years, please please call me, so we all can understand better how to keep this wonderful and iconic film material alive!”
Because this time, I don't even have the slightest idea where these last packfilm machines are standing!! How many are still available? Are they still producing? When has the management scheduled their demolition? It just feels like fighting against a ghost, which for sure is one of Fuji`s main intentions.
The second biggest problem is obviously the massively decreasing demand for this material. I had to discover that the percentage of packfilm consumption by photographers in whole Asia is most likely a small one digit number, and that only the passport and ID picture business (mainly in the lower developed regions) had kept this format alive for the past years. Even if the situation might be slightly different in Europe and North America, FujiFilm management simply has to have hard times to see any future for this material, without any chance to really see the essential difference between their Instax Wide material that produces images of exactly the same size, with just a little different border.
Fighting this “lack of analog vision” does not feel like the right strategy, so I basically only see 2 realistic directions to proceed:
1. Offering a long term purchase agreement with a defined minimum order quantity, that turns this product back into a profitable item for FujiFilm.
2. If this agreement can't be reached (and so far I have not even received any information of the actual average yearly sales for this product. My best guess would be around 250.000 packs per year globally) I really begged them literally on my knees to give us – the wild gang of crazy people all over the world who do not just believe but also did act – the chance to keep this format alive by selling us the key machines which – as always - are the essential foundation to all future production plans. At least ONE assembly machine and MAYBE PLEASE some of the molds for the cartridge. Not to mention some left over materials for rails, paper, pod-materials,…
The most positive outcome of this journey so far is the fact that there have been 2 official proposals of how to keep this material alive and an impressive amount of signatures personally handed over to the Fuji management. Hopefully they can NOW no longer continue like there is no interest or chance for this material any longer.
With the growing group of supporters in Japan (another positive outcome from this trip) I agreed to wait one week for the Fuji management to come up with a reaction to my proposals before taking next steps. But based on the super slow progress so far, I plan to already prepare for these steps with the team as well as start discussing possible next moves and some new ideas with our brothers in arms: IMPOSSIBLE, NEW55, FERRANIA, but also some other so far not actively involved gentlemen.
As always, I will of course keep you closely in the loop,
P.S.: Just seconds before boarding my plane back home, I got another savepackfilm energy boost from these 2 kids. They simply could not believe their eyes as I took (and handed over) the picture I took of them. Once again it felt so very good to experience how powerful the magic of this i1947-invention still is in a world where visual entertainment is defined by the iPad.