After finding my first roll of mystery film, I’ve been instantly trained to pick up and open every old camera I see while in an antique shop with the hopes of finding another roll. And luckily my persistence paid off and it paid off rather quickly.
Last October while in an antique shop in Portland, I spotted an mid 1950’s Kodak Brownie Hawkeye with a little paper tab sticking out the bottom seam. And what do you know, that little paper tab was attached to a roll of Kodacolor-X 620 film. So after buying a camera I already had for $15, it was all mine.
The problem is, being that it was color film that hasn’t been made since 1974, the chemicalsto process this film also haven’t been made for over 30 years. So after some detective work, I found I could send the film to a select few labs in the country that specialize in antique film and freeze these old chemicals to develop everything in large batches. The place I settled on and got the best vibe from was called Film Rescue International all the way out in Fortuna, ND. Also, I learned that whatever you do, don’t send your film here.
And as luck would have it, Film Rescue happened to have a batch deadline coming up. So Iquickly mailed in the mystery film, waited a few weeks, then they called and said they would start the processing in four weeks. After that it was another four weeks to see what developed. Then they emailed me back with thumbnails of whatever they could find on the film, and luckily there actually was something to see. So after months of waiting, I finally got my first glimpse of what has been locked away in the back of that forgotten camera for over thirty some odd years.
Unfortunately, the wait wasn’t over just yet. It wasn’t until another three weeks that I finally received a nicely packaged package with the results from a find made way back in October. But it was well worth it. The waiting, the money (definitely the most expensive roll of film I’ve ever developed) and the anticipation of not knowing was all worth it. Here are the results to the left.
Now all kinds of other questions can arise. Who the hell are these people and where are they? Why didn’t they develop this film themselves? Where did that guy learn that steely-eyed stare and does he still have those sideburns? Are they even still alive? We may never know.
It’s always fascinating to think that these images were burned into light-sensitive photographic film all those years ago, then sat forgotten about in the back of a camera which was soon forgotten about, and one day left the hands of the original owners and wound up in an antique shop. Then how I managed to stumble upon it is beyond me. But I feel pretty lucky.
Also, I should thank Film Rescue International for the wonderful job they did on turning that old roll of film into something. And note the reason these photos are in black and white as opposed to their original color has to do with their age. After sitting around for roughly 37 years in some unknown place, the color just doesn’t hold up in the negatives like one would hope. Good thing they still look pretty cool in B&W.