A tiny but growing number of online hobbyists have been buying used, but undeveloped, film rolls. People who sell mystery film often don’t set out to trade in the stuff — these are usually picked up by coincidence.
There are many tragic reasons why these rolls could have been forgotten about – divorce, death, dementia – and many mundane ones: film processing is expensive and it’s easy to set aside a half-used roll to be finished later and simply forget about it. Used film can sell from £1 to £100 on eBay, and more and more people are gathering online to celebrate their hobby. Over the past three years the subscribers to the Forgotten Film forum on the discussion website Reddit have jumped from 822 to more than 3,000 people. The most popular post of all is an image from the 1950s of a person in an anorak framed forebodingly in front of the Niagara Falls – the film was found inside a camera in an antique store.
But where did the interest in buying mystery film come from? It may be related to a boom on “mystery boxes” sold on Ebay. Popular YouTubers in 2017 started buying these boxes which contained random items and opened them in front of a camera.
In this environment, sellers are taking a chance by listing mystery film rolls, while buyers are excitedly purchasing a portion of the past.
But why would some people buy random film rolls and develop what’s inside them? Levi Bettwieser, a 33-year-old video producer from Idaho, answers this question.
...“There’s always a feeling of overall excitement that you might get something amazing, something historically viable. Or you might get more cat photos.”... “Part of the reason I’m doing it is because I like the idea of being the first person to ever see these images; even the photographer has never seen them.”
Check out the full story on The Guardian.
(Image Credit: 15299/ Pixabay)