The unlikely story of how Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas, became the last lab on earth to process Kodachrome.
YAY!!! WE'VE EXCEED OUR GOAL BUT THE CAMPAIGN ISN'T OVER! EVERY DOLLAR WE RAISE ABOVE $12,000 WILL GO TOWARD PURCHASING MORE FILM! IT COSTS $450 TO PURCHASE, PROCESS AND TRANSFER EACH 400 FT ROLL OF 16MM FILM. HOW MANY MORE ROLLS CAN WE BUY???
DWAYNE'S PHOTO is a documentary portrait of Dwayne Steinle, the founder of Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas. In this short film, we discover how his family-run lab in the middle of the American heartland came to develop the last treasured rolls of Kodachrome film – marking the end of an era of popular photography that began in 1935.
Dwayne's story is part of the 94 ELEMENTS project, a global cross-media storytelling project about the 94 naturally occurring elements in the periodic table. Dwayne gives us a human story behind the element of Silver.
And what other element is more emotionally connected to the human story than silver? As the essential substance for capturing light on film, silver has illuminated our personal memories and our communal dreams: silver made visual storytelling accessible to all. But, now, as we transition to a digital world, we are witnessing the vanishing of film as a medium of art and expression.
While 94 ELEMENTS is a decidedly digital project, we will shoot DWAYNE'S PHOTO entirely on film. It is an elegy: a last chance to plumb the depths of pure black, embrace analog ambiance, and enjoy the poetry of inherent imperfections.
Our film opens in a comfortable living room. Framed photos and mementos grace the walls and shelves. After a moment, Dwayne enters the room, carrying a slide projector in a box. He sets the box down to clear space on a table. Then, as he carefully opens the box and lifts the projector out, setting it in place, he begins to narrate, in voice over, the story of his life.
As he continues setting up the projector, his voice is clear, his cadence unhurried as he tells us that he was born in 1931 here in Parsons, Kansas. He started taking photographs in high school. During the Korean War, he ran a photo lab for the Army. Back home, he started a fledgling photo business with a borrowed photo enlarger. His little business grew quickly and by 1956 he had founded Dwayne’s Photo.
He turns off the lights. We see the images, advancing one after the other.
In the early 1990s he decided to invest in equipment for processing Kodachrome - a complex and exacting process performed by only 25 photos labs in the world even at its peak of popularity. Then digital photography really started to take over. Kodak discontinued Kodachrome, then stopped making the chemicals for processing. At noon on December 30, 2010, Dwayne's Photo accepted the last rolls of Kodachrome that would ever be processed.
I love Dwayne's story, I'm thrilled to be part of the 94 ELEMENTS project, and I'm grateful to you for helping to make it happen!
94 ELEMENTS is being presented at SXSW (the film, music and interactive festival in Austin, TX), and this Kickstarter campaign is being launched live in front of an audience at the event.
In order to make the most of the SXSW buzz, several incentives will be given to backers in-person and on-the-spot at SXSW! [thru 3/14] Everyone at SXSW who donates any amount will get an Element button (see below) and we have a limited number of Catching Out DVDs and Element Cubes to hand out. Please note: if you are not at SXSW, you can still snag the DVD or the Cube - you only need to pay for additional shipping costs.
As a special incentive, the TOP DONOR by 11:59 pm central time on 3/11/13 will receive a sample of silver, sealed in a glass ampoule under argon gas (in addition to other rewards in the applicable donation tier).
As a thank you to everyone who donates to this campaign - at any level - you will get sneak peek of the DWAYNE'S PHOTO (online) prior to it's public premiere!
94 ELEMENTS has generously donated the silver ampoule, the Element buttons and the Element cubes to this cause! My thanks also to Susan Hacker Stang and Webster University Press for making Kodachrome: End of the Run available, to Robert Burley for offering signed copies of Disappearance of Darkness and to Phoebe Owen for so enthusiastically embracing the making of the Kodachrome pendants.
ALL OR NOTHING
Like all Kickstarter campaigns, this project will not be funded and you will not receive your rewards (unless you get yours in person at SXSW) if we do not reach our goal by 6pm PDT on Friday, April 5th, 2013. But there is another "all or nothing" aspect to this campaign - the money we raise will be used to pay for the entire film. It will be 100% crowdfunded! Without you, this film won't get made!
Our budget includes film stock, processing, and transfer to video for editing. It covers the cost of camera, lights, sound recording equipment, and travel to Parsons, KS. $12,000 is the very minimum hard costs and any additional money we raise will be invested in additional resources to make an even better film. To give you an idea - each 400 ft load of 16mm film - roughly 11 minutes - costs about $450 in rawstock, processing and transfer to video!
In addition to making a donation, you can also support this campaign by sharing it with your friends, family and social networks. You can also stay in the loop by liking 94 Elements on Facebook and following me on Twitter!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me get this far. Danny Toback and his crew at Digital Film Studios made my awesome pitch video. Carol Strong made me look good. Susan Hacker Stang has graciously facilitated my many requests. Bill Barrett, Lisa Lauber, and David Alexander Nash provided images they took on December 30, 2010, at Dwayne's Photo - originally published in the book Kodachrome: End of the Run - which appear in the pitch video.
Thanks also to Allan Tudzin at FotoKem for answering my barrage of questions, Shane Kelly for hosting me in Austin, Bradley Thordarson for sharing his studio space, Michael Land for putting together my new website, and Monte Atherton for designing postcards.
As always, I appreciate the D-Word community for being an endless source of advice and support. I'm incredibly grateful to Mike Paterson for inviting me to participate in 94 ELEMENTS, and to Dwayne Steinle for sharing his story.
Of course, I'm also thankful for your support!!!
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Our biggest challenge will be balancing the tension between time and money. In order to make this film on a limited budget, we are relying on discounted / donated equipment and labor. As the saying goes you can only pick two:
Cheap - Fast - Good
Our approach is to keep our schedule flexible to accommodate crew and vendors taking paying work! The downside is that it may take longer than expected to find a window of opportunity that works for everyone.
Also, we have conceived of the film in a way that we can shoot and edit on a tight schedule. Our two-day shoot will take place over a weekend and most of the dialog will be recorded separately which will help us keep our shooting ratio low...saving both time and money, during production and post!
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.