The Joy of Discovering Un-deveolped Film [a video]

From my early childhood I have a memory of my parents shooting a couple photos during the holiday season, a couple more during my birthday party, maybe ten or twenty on the family vacation and then–when the roll of 24 exposures was used up–they’d pop the film outta the back of the camera and throw it in the drawer. Usually after about another month or two they’d re-discover the roll. And they’d run it down to the local drugstore, retrieve it a week or two later and voila! We’d be looking at pictures that were already a year old or more. We of course, didn’t care. This is the way photography just ‘was’. And i suspect that if you’re in your late 20’s or 30’s or older that you may have had similar memories.

While I’m talking of these things like they’re a hundred years ago, funny thing that a similar thing happened to me just recently. It’s a little different in that we’re talking moving pictures. I’ve got this waaay cool, old Bolex 8mm movie camera that I bought at a used camera about 15 years ago. Sometime last year I was plowing through old gear and I stumbled on that great old camera and….lo and behold…there were a handful of undeveloped film cartridges. I zipped them across country to one of the only places left that was developing this old Kodak stock and what I got back brought a huge smile to my face. Me and a couple of buddies–Scott who you know well and another buddy Glen–from more than a DECADE AGO with long skateboards, baggy shorts and pants, cruising down long, rolling hills… during the summertime in the nearby Cascade Mountains. We sewed that footage together just recently and I’m happy to share it with you here today for fun.

And as a reminder. If by chance you occasionally shoot film (or you always shoot it?) and if you’ve got undeveloped rolls laying around. Go develop them. I’m banking the results will be worth your time.

[Thanks to The Dutchess & The Duke for the soundtrack. Also, this post was inspired by this great post: The Zen of Undeveloped Film over at LaPuraVida]

53 Responses to The Joy of Discovering Un-deveolped Film [a video]

  1. DanielKphoto January 5, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Haha, that’s cool!

  2. Luca Ragogna January 5, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    I’ve got a bag of about 15 rolls of film that are at least 10 years old sitting in the closet. Looks like I’ll have to get them processed and scanned.

  3. Zak Shelhamer January 5, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    So rad, It always blows my mind how far we can come with consumer video cameras and all camera for that matter in such a short amount of time.. nuts

  4. Gareth Mc Givern January 5, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    The scene where you are all coming down the hill towards the camera, coming back into focus. This is great.

  5. Paul Bagels January 5, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Dang thats pretty rad. Thats up at Snoqualmie! Very cool to see some footage from that road, I’ve always had an eye on it for skating during the summertime when its open. Good stuff man

  6. jeremy January 5, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    its amazing the work and processing power and filters we run through our crisp pristine hd footage these days, just to make it look like it did straight out of the camera back then….

    kinda says something for the value of the past….

  7. John Cornicello January 5, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    You don’t even need film or an old 8mm camera now. Have you seen 8mm for the iPhone?

    • jose January 5, 2011 at 10:24 am #

      That app is fantastic.

  8. Mark Gregory January 5, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Cool stuff. I was just going through some old boxes from my grandmother’s house when I visited my parents for Christmas and found a role of undeveloped 127 film in a box with an old Kodak Brownie camera. I’m sending it off this afternoon to see what turns up.

  9. Kevin Rodriguez January 5, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    How long ago was this?

  10. Dan January 5, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    I shoot nothing but film. Every time I get my negatives back, it’s a new Christmas present. There was just no joy left in digital photography…

  11. AEPOC January 5, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    Very cool. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Jason V January 5, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Ha ha, good stuff! an early glimpse of the master at work

  13. jose January 5, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    It’s like The Wonder Years meets Thrashin’. Sweet movie.

  14. Tom Varden January 5, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    I recently found my skydiving photos in the very same manner.

  15. Derek Anson January 5, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    This is brilliant, good find

  16. Christina January 5, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    I had the same thing happen just yesterday! Found a roll of colour film that I shot in my K-1000 at least 9 years ago…so excited to get it back and see what’s on it! Since I was 15 at the time, probably a lot of close up “artsy” shots of my shoes!

  17. Dirk January 5, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Very cool. Would love to see a photograph of you from those time!

  18. TroyK January 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    very cool stuff Chase!
    My surprise experience of developing old film was after my Dad passed away and we came across several rolls of undeveloped film from the early 1960’s. Dad was in his 20’s, in the military and stationed in England. Several days after dropping them off at a camera shop in Tacoma I get a call from a detective questioning me about who was in the pictures because they thought there was a possible homicide! The pictures were of two couples in a field in England and very drunk (of course my Dad was one of the people there). One of the women apparently was passed out in the grass and was being put back in the car. After a short investigation by the Detectives they determined that it was just that, four people drinking and no harm done.
    I remember my Dad as being somewhat mild mannered but Mom always said that he used to be pretty wild when she met him. Those pictures were a glimpse into Dad’s wild side, I cant imagine what I could find if there was the internet back then!

  19. Laurent Egli January 5, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    I guess your road was pretty much layed before you :-D

    Laurent Egli
    Geneva Switzerland

  20. nikky January 5, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    ths shts gold!
    (which’s one’s you?)

  21. oldsweng January 5, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    The soundtrack really sets the perfect mood for this video.

    Something nearly as exciting as an undeveloped roll of film is finding a box full of negatives from 80 years ago! My grandmother’s brother was a hobbyist photographer who recorded many family events and the negatives produced prints no one in the family can ever remember seeing before. It’s like a treasure trove of family history.

  22. Bill Millios January 5, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Awesome, finding surprise stuff from the past. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    On another topic – David Hobby called. He wants his shorts back. :^)

  23. Meredith Phillips January 5, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    2:16 is rather humorous!

  24. Renee January 5, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    This is brilliant, I’m in my ealry 30’s & just the colours remind me of a time when things were so much simpler … & great choice of sound track BTW
    Thanks for sharing your personal stuff with all of us … It’s great to see a small part of your life & a great photographer being ‘real’ or ‘true’ …. Love it!
    I’m only just starting out, but U have helped inspire me :-)

  25. Bernie January 5, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    I know there are plenty of other people who have said, “I had something similar happen to me.” But I think my version of this story will be a little different, so I’ll share it.

    I work for a Wilderness Therapy Program. The short version of my job is that I hike and camp with students 11-18 years old who have a variety of issues–from drug use to behavioral issues. It’s not a boot camp; it’s not tough love stuff–it’s overseen by the state and very safe.

    Anyway, I was on a trip–instructors go out for two weeks at a time–and we found a role of 35mm film in the middle of the desert. I’m talking about out in the middle of nowhere. The closest town is 30 miles away, and it’s got a population under 5000. I was stoked to get it processed and see what, if anything, was on it.

    To be honest, I paid ~10 bucks to get the images put on a CD–there were only 10 on the roll I think–and was a little disappointed in the results. I was expecting some sweet shots, but only got some random stuff; I couldn’t even figure out where the pictures were of.

    Despite all that, finding old film rolls is always a fun trip to the past.

  26. Andrei January 5, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    How come there’s camera shake when the camera is on the asphalt? Is that added in post prod.?

  27. Susan January 6, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    Well, that just made me smile really wide.

  28. Dan Kaufman January 6, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    FANTASTIC !! brings me SMILES !!

  29. Matthew May January 6, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    Awesome! I love the ‘grit’ of old film.. very nice thanks for sharing!

  30. Tara Jones January 6, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Ok. You win. I’m inspired. :) I’ve had a roll of film that needs to be used up in the back of a toy camera for probably 2 years now and that baby is finally going to meet it’s developer! Ha ha!

  31. Richard Ford January 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm #


    May I present you this from the 1970’s or earlier maybe (the footage used that is).

    Nostalgia is very strong in this and I didn’t even skate board as a kid – and yes I still only shoot film + iPhone4. ;-)


  32. Dominic DiMaria January 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Wow, this is awesome stuff! What’s the best way to get 8mm developed? I have some “Like New” 8mm camcorders that I would love to shoot and develop with.

    • Richard Ford January 6, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

      If black and white – then in your kitchen sink. You’d just need to correct spools to spool it up with. Movie film and still frame film is still the same development chemicals and technique. At least when BW is concerned.

  33. diala chinedu January 7, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    wow, this is classic!!! I especially love the diagonal shot where you guys were coming down a slope, first out of focus and then came in focus as you drew nearer the camera. CLASSIC!!! :-)

  34. JM January 7, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Even though I love my digital and will only have it pried from my cold dead fingers (D700+ others, including MamiyaZD 22) I have been known to take the digital back off and pop a roll of 120 film and shoot. I LOVE FILM. It has a totally different feel and texture from digital. As a matter of fact, I have a 5 pack of Ektar 100 sitting in my fridge calling my name, AND a roll of velvia already in a back — I just popped it on over the christmas holidays…

  35. Janis January 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    I have similar feelings every few months when I develop my film rolls. I happen to study in Denmark and the film developing here is so damn expensive for a students pocket that I take them back every 3 or 4 months to my homecountry to develop there. And then I call them “recalls of forgotten” cuz they make you remember moments that have just slipped out of memory. It’s soo weird-coolish feeling but at the same time I know it’s a bit wrong – I need to develop them more regularly.

    Sweet video Chase, feel the warmness. Been following your crazyass cool stuff for a quite a while now. Keep up the love and we’ll spread it further :]


  36. Meagan McLendon January 7, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    The same thing happened to me recently! I like the deliberation of film, the subtle caution that goes behind taking a photo. I’ll pack a 4 gig memory card in my Rebel and before I know it my camera is obnoxiously telling me “Full card.” How can one take 700 photos so fast? Comparatively, a roll of film with a mere 24 shots is rather intimidating (and yet, should always be welcomed). Anywho, found an old roll the other day and it took a minute to realize they’ve been undeveloped for who knows how long before running to the developer.

    Before I go on another rant, I’ll leave it at that. Great video/blog!

  37. clarinase January 8, 2011 at 3:28 am #

    Ok. You win. I’m inspired. :) I’ve had a roll of film that needs to be used up in the back of a toy camera for probably 2 years now and that baby is finally going to meet it’s developer! Ha ha!

  38. chris January 8, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    Love the vid, just wondering when it was shot? I didn’t think anyone wore helmets back in the 90’s or have that baggy pants style going on back then. Either way, nothing beats the casual style of a good longboarder.

  39. Mark Matthews January 9, 2011 at 2:19 am #

    Hey mate,

    love it! Ever thought of reliving the glory days and re-doing the video? :)


  40. Kitty Mason January 10, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Fun video!
    Haven’t been fortunate enough to find undeveloped film but I did have 25 reels of 8mm and 16mm put on DVD’s. They were videos my parents filmed over 30 years starting in the early 1950’s. It was an anniversary gift for them and brought back so many great memories for our family. Getting my Mom to let me take them to the photography store was the hardest part, she worried for 2 weeks that they would be lost, then was thrilled when she saw the finished product.
    Now to gather all the thousands of slides I’ve collected and do the same. Thanks for the reminder! :)

  41. rfphotoart January 10, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    How many rolls of undeveloped film did Garry Winogrand have at the time of his death…thousands as the legend goes. Treasures…

  42. Gregg January 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    As a shooter of film only, I keep this old habit alive as part of my “work flow”.

  43. Anthony Perez January 11, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    Love it, i still shoot film and theres just something thats so much more exciting about dveloping your films a few months later.

  44. Anthony Perez January 11, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    just realised reminds me of juan rayos

  45. amy January 11, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    Oooo that reminds me: I have some film from Brazil that’s been hanging out for over a year. Sweet.

  46. sdasfd January 11, 2011 at 2:22 pm #


  47. Katharine Carey January 17, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    My daughter (19) loves film, she says that it is like receiving a gift sometimes its not so great and other times it is a huge surprise :) Thanks for sharing this wonderful memory with all of us

  48. Jill McClanahan January 21, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    I loved skateboarding as a kid. This was a blast to watch.

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