Contrary to rumours that have been doing the rounds within the South African industry, The Film Lab in Johannesburg is not closing down and is now under the general management of Charmaine Lautre, ex-head of production.
Talk of The Film Lab’s possible demise was fuelled by the retirement of long time general manager, industry stalwart and 2013 SAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award honouree, Tony Boyers, who started out as a printing operator at 20th Century Fox in Killarney in 1967, working on black and white newsreels.
Says Lautre: “It was always the intention that I take over the reins when Tony retired. His are big shoes to fill admittedly, but it’s an exciting prospect and I’m up for the challenge.’
She notes that The Film Lab has been affected by the transition to digital projection, along with the trend in the market to shoot on digital formats rather than 16mm or 35mm film.
“However, over the past 12 months we have processed over 1.5 million feet of negative film, including features like Videovision Entertainment’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Jake Paltrow’s Young Ones, which was shot in Springbok and Cape Town.
Among several other features printed by The Film Lab is the international blockbuster, Olympus Has Fallen, as well as many film trailers and commercials.
Due to changing times The Film Lab has had to contain costs. This includes the substantial reduction of staff over the past three years. As the roll out of digital projection progresses, the printing workload will further decrease.
“It’s business as usual though, and we continue to provide all the services we always have,’ explains Lautre. “Just last week we took delivery of a million feet of print stock, the second such consignment in the past two months.
“Front end processing has dropped off a lot, but filmmakers need to know that there are wonderful 16mm film stocks available, and we can put together great packages. In all honesty you could probably shoot on 16mm for the same if not less than top-end digital.’
The Film Lab still adheres strictly to Kodak Imagecare procedure. Control strips for processing baths are sent to Kodak in Chalon, France on a monthly basis for assessment to ensure the highest standard is maintained.
By Andy Stead
screen africa magazine – june 2013