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Home » Society » How I Started Selling Film & Foundation Principles Of Economy That I Learned From It

How I Started Selling Film & Foundation Principles Of Economy That I Learned From It

At the end of 2017, my journey into being a film seller first began when my customer/friend Nicole showed me her photos taken by her Cosina CT1 Super film camera
What immediately struck me is the dynamic range and colour of the pictures ! Amazing !
On digital cameras, usually we need to pay lots of money to afford full frame cameras which can achieve similar dynamic range and color !
Nicole told me she serviced her camera with Vincent Lo, a technician in PJ, so I proceeded to his place with my dad’s old Canon AV1 camera
Vincent told me that because my camera is not fully mechanical, he had to do some procedures to revive the old circuitboards in the camera
But this procedure is a hit or miss. And even if the camera fails to be revived I still need to pay a nominal service fee of about RM 80. If it revived then its RM 150
I thought to myself, oh man, should I take the risk ? Even if fail I still need to pay RM 80 ! Ouch !
Suddenly a customer/friend whom I knew for long time, Aiman, stepped into Vincent’s shop !
I never met him for awhile so we chit chat for awhile and I listened to his story in regards to his journey in film, which was very interesting
But still I was not convinced that I should repair my film camera and left Vincent’s shop
About a week later, again I bumped into Aiman again at Subang Summit, where I attended Sunday service
We chit chat and catched up for awhile, then we parted ways.
What struck me however is, how come I come to Subang Summit regularly for the past 3 years, and didn’t bump into my customer/friends here. But in this time I bump into Aiman twice ?
Is it that God wants me to go into this area ? to shine the light of Jesus here ?
I made a survey in regards to the film camera market, prices for film and camera batteries are inflated and high.
I asked about a 4LR44 batt that I need for my Canon Av1 and its RM 20 or more locally ! and a Fuji C200 film was about RM20 i think
Because I have trading import experience, I am able to source for both the battery and film less than half the local price in Malaysia !
So I took the plunge and sent my camera to be repaired by Vincent while at the same time made orders for my first batch of film and battery
Weeks later I collected my camera from Vincent and loaded the film and battery I imported into it and behold, its alive !!! =D
Vincent recommended that I process my film with KoonYik Chin aka Bang Bang Geng so I went to Publika to shoot my first roll
Which turned out beyond my initial expectations, you can see my first roll here
There is a just something about film photos ~
This marks my first step into the world of film trading and my interactions with the vibrant film community which consists of people from greatly diverse nations, culture, age and walks of life
I have no regrets and am greatly honoured to have the opportunity to serve in this area
Thank you everyone for your kind support all this while !
Its really nice meeting all of you through film !

What Selling Film Taught Me About Economics

General Backdrop of Economy Theory
To simplify things, there is two opposing economic theories
Free Market Economy = The market regulates itself through supply and demand, without any interference from outside forces such as governments / local warlords
Controlled Economy =The market is regulated by an outside coercive force like government / local warlords because people just can’t control themselves to do the right thing. Some manifestations of this are government regulation, taxes, and price controls
In this day there is no free market economy that truly exists, because all governments subject its market to some form of regulation, tax and price controls and besides that the money that we use to transact is also a manipulated medium of exchange without intrinsic value ( Fiat Currency )
Both sides of this economic coin has its own pros and cons specifically in relation to limited resources
For the sake of fleshing out the concepts above, below are some samples

Free Market Economy

PRO :The supply and demand method of regulating price is good because it can serve as an indicator in regards to how widely available is the resource being traded is
So price can be a good feedback mechanism to inform people to use the resource more or less based on the price of the resource being consumed
CON : Often times the price of the resource doesn’t necessarily reflect the procurement cost or availability of that resource. Or sometimes the scarcity of the resource is artificial where example, self interested parties can buy up all of the available resource in the market in hopes of limiting the circulating supply in the market hence driving up prices and profit.

Controlled Economy

PRO : Serves as a bandaid to counteract the cons in the free market economy. By using guns and weapons, force the price of the resource to be at the desired specific price.
CON : People lack the feedback mechanism required to know the availability of the resource being consumed hence having the danger of promoting unwise wasteful use of it.
If the controlled price of the resource is lower than the cost to procure or produce the resource, then there is no incentive for the production of the said resource.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Simplified Example On Why Not Having A Feedback Mechanism Is Bad :
Lets say the price of water in which the actual price is RM 10 per Litre due to draught and lack of water in reservoirs
By forcing people to sell water at RM 0.01 despite the lack of it may cause people to forget about the emergency situation where there is not enough water hence wasting it needlessly
Consequence : Water runs out, people die
( But of course it depends also on percentage of people in society who are civic conscious and how they were educated & raised )


The film economy consists of two elements which mirror the economic concepts above
The free market economy where sellers are free to set their own prices for films and film cameras, and buyers are free to choose whom they want to buy from based on the prices and negotiation
The controlled economy aspect of the film market is in the form of import tax and fiat currency fluctuation
The free market economy aspect of film are influenced by three main players and two auxiliary players
A ) Film Manufacturers
B ) Middlemen / Distributors / Traders
C ) Buyers / Film Shooters
A ) Film Processors
B ) Technicians For Camera Repair Service & Maintenance
Manufacturer Field Of Influence
According to the factories, the demand for film increased exponentially in recent years and they really can’t cope with producing to meet the needs of the market
This way they justify drastic increase in the prices of their films
The problem in this area is that because most of us in this generation are products of failed education systems, the production of film is like magic to most of us and the process of manufacturing color film is not easily replicated therefore
So only having two players in the color negative market, they are free to charge how much they want for the films
Plus I think they also not sure if this surge in demand for film is just another fad or its here to stay, so they are cautious about investing to ramp up production in their factories
Middlemen Field Of Influence
Film supply market is weird,
For the same brand, some countries have good price for film A B C , and bad price for film D E F
Also for the same brand, other countries have better price for D E F but bad price for A B C
Locally in Malaysia, there a is general retail market price for each product, and it just floats there. Example like a roll of C200 in 2017 was about RM 15 – 20 in Malaysia and 4LR44 was about Rm 20
Generally all the traders will try to match this average price with some variation of more or less to compete but at the same time make as much profit as possible
People who sell too low below market price would be labelled by other sellers as “spoiling the market” and anyone who sells too low would be labelled as “instigating a price war”
I have a friend who sells on a popular selling marketplace online, because he sells the colorplus film at RM 14 – 15 in a place where the marketplace was RM 20 – 25, his competitors strive to buy all his stock so that he will have no stock left hence leaving them to dictate the selling price in the market place
They were also quite nasty to leave him a bad review despite him not doing anything wrong in regards to the trade
Film Shooters
Some of them buy to shoot, some buy to keep, some buy to resell
Their collective preference and buying decisions influences the type and quantity that the middlemen should stock up and the film manufacturers should manufacture
The Film Processing People & Film Camera Repair Guys
They catalyse the film market as they they both support and are supported by the film market as a whole
Very crucial for the long term growth of the film market
Controlled Side Of The Film Economy ( Import Tax )
Photography products are supposed to be zero tax in Malaysia but due to GST then SST it is now being taxed in recent years.
And the reason why GST was introduced because there was a mismanagement of Malaysia’s resources, the GST rate was 6%
Then later after the opposition won in the recent general election, SST was introduced to replace the GST, and the tax is now 10%, higher
The reason for SST ? to pay back the debts owed by the previous government
Not to mention, due to a series of funny events, now we have people in charge in Malaysia who are unelected and the previous taxes are still in place
Logically speaking
1 )The country’s mismanagement of resources, is it the people’s fault ? Is it me and my customer’s fault ?
2 )The country’s debt by previous government so to speak, is it the people’s fault ? Is it me and my customer’s fault ?
3 ) The people who are at fault for mismanagement and debt, shouldn’t be they who should pay for the results of their bad actions ?
4 )Why are people who are not involved being punished by taxation ?
This is just weird and has no logical basis, I will leave it at that
If anyone say oh we need money to pay for roads, street lamps and police etc, for your information, we already have income tax.
But never mind thats another can of worms, we can save that for another day.

My Take On Approaching The Film Market Based On The Parameters Above

In November 2019, before the Kodak price increase
The price of the Kodak Colorplus 200 in the general Malaysian market is RM 15 – 30 depends on retailing method and geographical location
My cost per roll of Kodak Colorplus was RM 11 approx and marking up 10% means I will sell it RM 12.10 approx
And this is after adding in the import SST tax, if without this tax I could sell the film at 5 – 10 % cheaper even, making the film RM 11 or less
By my selling of the Kodak Colorplus 200 at RM 12.10 approx, I have been able to influence the general market price of the Kodak Colorplus 200 by pulling down the mean average price of the film
As long as I have stock, this new mean average price stays and when my stock is out then an elastic effect occurs where the mean average price returns to its average norm prior to the price I set to sell
The reason why I sell at a mark up of approx 10% for the Kodak Colorplus is because I think its fair to earn 10% – 20% from a consumable product which has a high chance of repeat purchase
On top of that, I also am very interested to help grow the film community because I would like to provide people with an alternative to the overpriced digital camera market where a good full frame camera can cost RM 6000 – RM 10000 !
An entry full frame 35mm film camera generally costs RM 100 – 500, films not included though. But because the “sensor” of the camera is the film, immediately we can be able to produce amazing results ! So many digital cameras aspire to give its customers the “film look” charging them extra so why not just shoot film ??? haha
By encouraging the growth of film photography, I also hope to put pressure on digital camera manufacturers to lower down their prices. Sounds a bit far fetched, but thats the idea XD
On top of that, of course, I like film and some of these mechanical cameras are just so amazing it makes me wonder if people back then are more sophisticated and have higher level of abilities than people today
So film also serves as a reminder for me about the progress of history, about what we need to do about the education system
In regards to my competitors, I generally dont sell on popular market places like Shopee and Lazada so they can sell their stuff there. I sell mainly on my own website and promote my films on fb and carousell
I dont mind supplying my competitors but at the same time I need to also take care not to over deplete my stock because the average film shooter still needs to have access to affordable films
Sometimes I export to my customers who resell in other countries, and usually I am ok with all quantities that they need until the stock becomes low then I set some limit on the max orders as well because I still need to think about the local market which supports and also is supported by the local film processors and camera repair people too

Long story short and in conclusion

The film market operates on a relatively free economy model with minimal external interference except import tax
The price for film goods dont naturally go down because its not a natural tendency to want to sell as cheap as possible, the usual practice is to sell as high as the market ceiling allows in order to maximise profit
And when there is someone who is deemed to be selling too cheap, the competitor can always swoop in to buy all these limited stocks of film and once again dictate the price ceiling in the market
In regards to pricing of film,


the solution is to run the free market economy on the external and run the controlled market economy on the internal

In other words, the solution is for the pricing of film is to maintain the freedom to buy and sell at whatever price supply and demand dictates
But on the internal, the seller sets the price based on principles and the purpose for doing the business
So it’s this internally enforced principles and purpose which serves as the controlled part of the economy
And because control comes from the internal, there is no need for an external dictator to tell the seller what price to sell
It’s important to avoid having external dictators because they probably have no technical idea about the film market nor care about the people involved in the market itself and probably has never ever run a day of honest business on his own before lol
He is just doing what is popular to the people in the short term to stay in power without thinking much about the long term repercussions
In regards to the SST for films, I prefer not to have it so that film can be more affordable of course,
But as it is, this is what Jesus taught about taxes as per the passage below

And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap Jesus in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God.

Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”

But, knowing their hypocrisy, Jesus said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one.

And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.”

Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

And they marvelled at him.
Now yes, the reading of this shows that Jesus is saying that since we use Caesar’s coin, its fair that we pay tax to Caesar. And since we are made in God’s image, we are to render all of ourselves unto God unto His purpose in reality.
But if we look into the historical context, the Jews at this time were a conquered people by a foreign invader the Romans, so the Jews were asking Jesus who is also a Jew, is it legit to pay tax to our conquerors ?
And in those days, Rome was like this ultimate warlord kingdom which united the civilised world under its banner with Caesar at its head
With Rome came the Roman Peace ( Pax Romana ) which brought a time a stability and flourish to the entire region –
So I guess, from Jesus perspective, Rome also does serve its purpose by bringing stability to the region and by maintaining peace from 31B – 250AD, the Good News of God’s Kingdom has the opportunity to be spread like leaven throughout the vast Roman Empire
So from that stand point, if we like Pax Romana, we pay for it lah but the other question is why we need Pax Romana in the first place ?
Ah see ?
Pax Romana is only a band aid to be needed because people can’t control themselves and can’t resist the urge to subject each other to their selfish wills and keep wanting to kill one another in endless war
And if we know the true nature of what money is ->
The reason why we need a medium of exchange by Caesar is because we can’t trust one another and we can’t remember the help that we rendered each other
Thats why we need Caesar’s currency to help us and thats why we have to pay tax
The day that we can finally trust each other as ideal family is the day the need to pay tax stops because money won’t be needed then
In regards to the Malaysian government, we had a bad one prior to this then we voted in one which we hope will be better and indeed they made much promises which never came true
Then suddenly some funny thing happen and now I dont know what we have frankly
And mind you, this is Malaysian government in Malaysia, its different from Jesus’s context where the tax was paid in tribute to Rome, a conquering nation over the Jews
This is what made me realise, voting for change doesn’t work because true change come from us ourselves from within, it doesn’t come from the external
All external measures are merely bandaids or worse, its like taking Panadol whenever there is headache without checking further why we have headache in first place !
And the root cause of all our headaches is the evil in people and in ourselves, to which there is only one cure

Gain citizenship ourselves unto this Eternal Kingdom


Regard all external governments and empires as contemporary entities to our Eternal Kingdom here on Earth, be courteous and negotiate for best mutual results with them whenever possible
Strive to maintain a free external market economy and a free society on the outside whenever possible

But maintain an economy controlled by principles and purpose on the inside and uphold a society bound by divine law within our hearts

This is the solution
If we leave behind our own fancies and self deceit, the Prince of the world shall have no place nor excuse to dictate us according to his trivial fancies and deceit
But there is only one way to leave behind our own fancies and self deceit which is the above

The Future of Film

As now, due to the coronavirus, film demand probably dropped like a ton of bricks, personally I am not quite sure what the market would look like after all this is over
According to extrapolations based on the Spanish Flu, it may take a full 18 months before full recovery but speculations that the virus is bioengineered does introduce a level of uncertainty to this extrapolation
Before the war, I thought to slowly find way to convince my new Ukraine supplier Svema Astrum to reintroduce their color films so we can have greater competition in the color negative market hence lowering down the prices
And Shanghai told me that they planned to launch new color negative film this year. If it comes then it also introduces good alternative to further modulate the color negative market
Im not sure if these two plans can still go on after this, we shall see
When the smoke clears and the dust settles, the world will never emerge the same again
Right now, with the world on halt, we are as if in a form of chrysalis phase in anticipation to the time where we may emerge unto the challenges that this new world which awaits us, may bring
Its going to be exciting
See you after the plague, I hope
Take care, stay safe

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