Eastman Kodak is recruiting. And it may not be for jobs you would expect to need to be filled.
Kodak officials say they need workers who can help make film, especially 35mm film used by both professionals and photo enthusiasts.
Film is obviously a legacy product in a digital world, but Nagraj Bokinkere, vice president of industrial films and chemicals at Kodak, said it has seen a resurgence in recent years.
The movie is being made at Eastman Business Park in Rochester, and Bokinkere said in an interview with WXXI News that they’ve already hired about 350 people into the moviemaking business since 2021; some of these workers fill new positions, others replace retirees.
“A few years ago in the film finishing operation, it was a 40-hour-a-week type operation, it was the capacity we had that was enough to meet the demand,” Bokinkere said. “But now we are 24/7. This is an increase (four times) of this capacity at this stage, which is still not enough to catch up with demand.
Kodak currently has 75 openings in its film manufacturing operations, and the company is looking to fill a variety of job types, especially those in the skilled trades.
As Kodak loses some of its former employees who had long worked in the cinema and retires, Kodak strives to train new recruits.
“It’s a good mix we have at the moment, of experienced people and newcomers coming into our manufacturing force. So we strive to train newcomers in filmmaking, which is a complicated process,” Bokinkere said.
As for why 35mm film started to take off, Bokinkere said one reason could be young amateur photographers who love what they can perceive as a retro-type product.
“Similar to other analog technologies like vinyl, there is an interest in analog technologies. It is these new entrants that are exploring film as the technology behind the 35mm format,” Bokinkere said.
Kodak also makes motion picture film, which some directors and cinematographers prefer to digital. The film is not a major revenue driver for Kodak, but it is part of their overall product line, including advanced materials and chemicals. Kodak has also focused on commercial printing and packaging in recent years.
And the technologies that Kodak has developed over the years to make films, like the coating process, are now used by the company as it diversifies into the advanced materials segment, for products like batteries and light blocking technologies for fabrics.