CHATTING WITH FILMNEVERDIE
You can’t accidentally stumble across Filmneverdie’s CBD café - a treasure trove hidden away up a rickety old elevator on Bourke Street, the small community within thrives on a collective love for the preservation of analogue photography and camera equipment not normally accessible elsewhere.
First of all, tell us what exactly Filmneverdie is for those who aren’t acquainted. Why and how did you start it?
FilmNeverDie is the shared vision of a small team of photographers working in Melbourne. At FilmNeverDie we vow to preserve this intimacy and pass it on to you. Our philosophy remains relatively unchanged from Land’s [Dr. Edwin Land, creator of Polaroid] original vision: we aspire, simply, to capture the raw nature of the moment.
Even in the age of digital photography, the wonder of the Polaroid is such that it can be appreciated by everyone. The novelty of seeing an image revealing itself before your very eyes will never wear off. This is why we believe that instant photography is a technology that can still hold its own, and will never be replaced. We have made a vow to keep Polaroid films and analogue films alive. Even if all other film production shuts down, we promise to be the last life line of analogue photography for our customers.
We aim to maintain a sense of community among film photographers in Melbourne and endeavour to continue to organise larger collaborative events, such as quarterly Melbourne Polaroid Photo Walks, to share our knowledge of photographic techniques and to make these accessible to anyone who is interested.
All this started when Gary [owner of FilmNeverDie] bought Wei Wei [Gary’s then-girlfriend, now wife] a Polaroid camera but could not get film, so he bulk-bought from the The Impossible Project who had just taken over Polaroid and started making film again. Gary bought a 60 pack of film, gave Wei Wei 10, and resold the rest on eBay. So Gary kept doing that and slowly branched out to refurbishing and selling Polaroid and analogue film cameras too, simply because there are still so many cool and legendary lenses and cameras out there. To be honest, if you are not shooting professionally, you will be better off with an analogue camera; if you buy a digital camera for $1,000 the chances are it will be $200 in a few years.
We would love to hear the story of how you first fell in love with film photography!
So as we were starting the business my love for film photography started too, I discovered amazing cameras and amazing lenses. Discovering one camera after another - but the one that always drew me back was the SX-70 Polaroid camera because of the philosophy behind it. The seed of Dr. Edwin Land's revolutionary idea, the Polaroid, was planted by his daughter's simple but profound question, “Dad, why can't I see the pictures now?”. The camera which resulted, the Polaroid SX-70 Camera, was “a camera so natural to use it would create new intimacy...with nothing between the perception of the scene and capturing it.”
Filmneverdie is heavily influenced by the philosophies and sentiments brought to life by Dr. Edwin Land, creator of the Polaroid. Tell us a bit about how the magic of instant photography and analogue photography influenced and inspired the creation of Filmneverdie.
It’s great you can read my mind and all questions flow into each other. So basically we really like how Dr. Edwin Land firstly envisioned a Polaroid camera and also inspired the whole business to build the legendary SX-70 SLR Polaroid camera. From his daughter's simple but profound question, to putting it all in to make a revolutionary camera, Dr. Edwin Land was able to inspire the whole team to new heights with innovation and ground breaking advances in photography. They created these tiny screws in 1970 that are still used in mobile phones today. Not to mention the Sonar ultrasonic autofocus system that can focus pitch black. They were the Apple of the day. So what we try to do here is to pass on the magic of instant photography and make people fall in love and shoot Polaroid.
How would you describe the place of film photography in a 2016 art world landscape? What significance do you predict it will have, or what role do you predict it will play in years to come - and is this transformative of what we’ve already seen?
I think film is still here to stay for a long time; I guess in the realm of art, having different methods to experiment with is basically the essence of art. What I find is even professional photographers are getting back to film photography because it’s fun, it really slows things down, and they are able to engage with their senses and put the fun back into photography.
One of the things that struck me upon entering the Filmneverdie space was the warm welcoming, and how every new person who walked through the door was instantly made to feel comfortable. Filmneverdie is supported by a wonderful community, how would you suggest newly interested people go about finding out more and becoming involved?
You can always come talk to me! We are really fortunate to have passionate people volunteering and interning here. I guess I am really big on building a symbiotic relationship where we can be contributing to your skill set to see your dream come to reality as you help build this community. Because we are a small business, it’s all about what you want to do in life and how we can help you to get you to where you want, as you help us grow this film community! So come talk to Gary.
FILMNEVERDIE CAFE - LEVEL 2, 640 BOURKE ST, MELB CBD, 3000
TUES-FRI : 12-8, SAT & SUN : 12-5