Keeping the magic of film alive

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By Mark Louis F. Ferrolino

The dawn of the digital age has brought huge changes in the state of photography, leaving analogue in dusk. Despite the advances in technology, there are still photographers and hobbyists who prefer taking pictures through the traditional method and see film photography as an exciting, timeless craft.

Taking the risks while pursuing what they are passionate about, the group of Aislinn Chuahiock, Ronald Sy and Edric Chua established Film Folk in 2016. It is a brand that specializes in selling films, vintage cameras and some related items online and through Satchmi stores located in SM Megamall and UP Town Center.

“Film Folk saw a rising global trend and dared to focus on a specialized market, and today, we carry the most complete range of films that you can access in the Philipppines,” Ms. Chuahiock, one of the owners, told BusinessWorld in an interview.

Film Folk started when the group of Ms. Chuahiock, who’s also running the vinyl records store and coffee shop named Satchmi, discovered that many of their customers are also film lovers. Upon recognizing this shared passion, the group created Film Folk with the objective to build an engaging community where film photography shooters can converge.

“Long-term success in this industry will be challenging,” Ms. Chuahiock said. “It’s not easy, there are a lot of factors, and hurdles to overcome. Film is a perishable item so you really need to understand its economics, how to sell it, and how to make supply sustainable.”

Ms. Chuahiock, who takes charge in purchasing and marketing, has worked hard to secure good deals with major film manufacturers, distributors, and to reach the potential customers in the market. She even wrote a letter to large brands in film manufacturing industry to get their attention and show how committed they were in pushing the business.

Surprisingly, a lot of these established brands have given their support to Film Folk like Ilford Photo, the only manufacturer in the world that provide black & white film and other photographic materials based in United Kingdom. The team continues to converse with major brands to ensure a sustainable supply and carry the materials in the country at economical cost.

“Our team worked so hard to breathe life to the brand and we’re proud of Film Folk. When we started, we didn’t have the numbers but we had the right idea, we had the right push, we had the right message. And the biggest obstacle was to tell people that ‘Hey! Film is still alive and help us keep it alive’,” Ms. Chuahiock said.

When asked about the future plans of Film Folk, Ms. Chuahiock said that they plan to expand their product offerings to complement the lifestyle of film photography such as chemicals, camera straps and bags.

“If you recognize an opportunity, go for it. If it is something you love being a part of, whether it’s film photography, cooking, baking, and everything else in between, take the lead and build the brand. It’s not going to be easy. The predicament of capital and sourcing will always be there but the support will never run out if you surround yourself with like-minded people. The business world today relies heavily on social media, so take advantage of that,” Ms. Chuahiock said, noting that Film Folk and Satchmi are perfect examples of how a group of people saw potential in an idea that people doubted.

“In the photography world, there’s a lot of exciting things going on, whether it’s a film being reborn or a film being reproduced. It may still be perceived as a niche, but Film Folk is part of a greater global effort to make sure that the sun will never set on Film Photography,” Ms. Chuahiock said.