All of us at Whattaroll said “Yes!” when we heard that there’s a new film brand called KONO! coming out in the market, which lets the analog-loving community have more options for shooting with film. Needless to say, we were eager to find out more about straight from its founder, Uwe Mimoun, who gave us some details about the 35mm films and the sample shots taken with them.
Among the first things Uwe did for Kono! was to get in touch with Johanna Bauer of Lumikki photography to test out the first two 35mm films for the brand so far: Kono Kolorit and Kono Rotwild.
Johanna, who used a Zenit E for the first roll and a Voigtländer Bessa R2a for the second, said about the test shoot:
“Like with all my other projects, I worked on this one far from any kind of hectic, in close communion with nature’s aesthetic, and a focus on the person, the mood, and the colors.
“My aim is to capture the atmosphere of the moment on film, not with technical perfection but lightness, ease, and playful handling of the material.
“Spontaneous light leaks, soft colors, and transitions fill the pictures with a spiritedness which let these photographed memories seem more authentic to me.”
Uwe also granted us an insightful interview which you can read below:
You currently have two films available, the KONO! Kolorit 400 and Rotwild 400. Can you tell us a little about them and were there any reasons why you chose to manufacture these as your first products? What special qualities do they have that make them unique?
Both films are hand-rolled, limited, and based on the same material, a 400 ISO Daylight cine stock with the remjet layer already removed by us. Motion picture camera negatives have an additional layer, called remjet. This layer serves two purposes: it helps to avoid electro static effects inside the motion camera which would lead to flashes on the image; and also helps to avoid halo effects, for instance, while shooting street lanterns at night.
The C41 process used to develop our beloved color negative films differs a little bit from the motion picture negative process. The remjet layer would contaminate the C41 process so it must be removed before you develop it in a usual photolab.
The main reason to start with them was that production for Kono! started in October last year and that 400 ISO works well in the darker season, too. The character of this material, the colors, and the contrast never fail to impress me. A lot of big budget feature films were shot on it and it is one of the most advanced negative materials ever produced.
There are rumors that you guys are busy working on some new “Five more KONO! films waiting for reanimation!” Can you share anything about those with us? What can we expect from you in the future?
Actually the next three to four films will be out in April, if everything works out as expected. Among them is our first black and white film – this is something I am really proud of. It took extensive tests to figure out the developing charts. It’s a film which was never intended to end up in a camera so it was quite a lot of work.
Unfortunately, there will only be approximately 400 single rolls but it looks great and it was well worth it.
There are also bigger plans for later this year; they are exciting but it’s too early to go into details. I hope this will change soon.
KONO! films use special materials which were never intended or rarely produced for normal 35mm photography. Why do you feel it was necessary to use such materials? What was the main draw for you to do so?
I wouldn’t say it is necessary to use such materials but it is an interesting addition to your “painter palette,” or perhaps it is like an additional brush to paint your picture. The main draw for me was that I know all these materials by heart from endless hours of working on the look of feature films.
All these materials have a great track record on film sets or afterwards in the film labs where we developed the negative. We did the color timing to achieve the look we were after and the atmosphere that the DOP wanted to reach. I worked on several feature films as a color timer and you have to develop a feeling for the different film stocks, which we called “riding the negative.”
This was a completely analog process when I started my career. It eventually turned into a hybrid process wherein the negative is scanned with a mostly completely digital job at present. However, experienced film makers still want the look a special film stock created and they often ask the color grader to make the digital media look like analog film. Quite funny, actually.
We always used the materials in our still cameras to learn more about it and because we could develop it at work for free, we took stupid amount of stills using strange film stocks.
Most of the source materials used in your products are no longer manufactured, so each KONO! film is unique, rare and may very well be the last of its kind. Do you believe that this is adding to the popular belief that film is in fact dying? How would you convince someone that believes this?
The Kono! films right now share a history with the motion picture industry, this industry has changed a lot as we all know. The common mistake is to think that film is dying because no one shoots motion pictures on film, but this not even half true.
The manufacturers built gigantic machines and plants to produce millions and millions of meter each year to provide the cinemas with prints. A 90-minute feature film is 2.5 km long and you need 15 times the length to get all the takes right you need for your film, which is 37.5 km of finest and expensive color negative.
Sounds like a lot, as you could cut more than 23.400 single films for your photo camera out of it. But, compared to the 10,000 prints you need for a big cinematic release with each print being 2.5 km long, it is close to nothing. All of these, just for one movie.
The big problem for film is not the decline of analog photography but the digital projections where you only need one server and not millions of meter of film. Once the industry adjusts to it, which is a euphemism and must sound horrible for all the people who lost their jobs in this process, we will see that there still will be film. It will never be the same again but it will sure stay as a medium for shooting movies and stills.
And never underestimate the film freaks. I tend to see the times not as dire as most people want to tell you when it comes to film. It is again a time for lovers and pioneers – let’s embrace it instead of clinging to the past!
If you would like to know something else about the Kono! and the features of the films under this brand, please head over to www.reanimatedfilm.com
Photographers: Johanna Bauer | Lumikki Photography | www.lumikki.at & Uwe Mimoun
Models: Lena Wurm and Thomas Amon