Without much fanfare or even so much as an announcement, FILM Ferrania has reopened their online shop and are now fulfilling orders in the United States and Canada. The site’s film offerings are limited to their Ferrania P30 black-and-white film in 35mm format and limited to ten rolls per customer, just like back in 2017. But unlike in 2017, when the shop closed after selling out of their available stock, FILM Ferrania says their production capacity is now ready to keep up continuously with orders.
I’ve been a fan of the film since I first shot it back in 2017, so I promptly ordered ten rolls. I then reached out to FILM Ferrania Sales and Marketing Director David Bias, who was kind enough to take a phone call and answer some questions about this new production of Ferrania P30. I also asked about FILM Ferrania’s production delays of the recent past and their expectations of the immediate future. Here’s what he had to say.
CP / JAMES – Thanks for taking a moment to chat, Dave. Tell me what’s going on with FILM Ferrania today.
DAVE – We’re making film. We spent the last 18 months fixing every last little thing at the factory – still a lot to do of course, but the focus was on getting to a point where we can produce film every day of the week. Despite what people might think, getting to that was a big deal for us, internally. Ferrania P30 Alpha [the original production run of Ferrania P30 which released in 2017] was being made by hand, essentially.
I mean, not really by hand. I’m simplifying a lot. But compared to how P30 is being made today it was almost like it was being made by hand in 2017. We’ve now set up the factory in a way that the consistency, and the quality, and the production capability is way ahead of what we were doing back then. That said, there are still a number of issues we have to chase down over the next few months in order to increase the volume of the film we make.
It took us a lot longer than any of us anticipated to get to this point, but it was necessary for a number of reasons. But primarily it was necessary to ensure uniformity and consistency, so that if you buy a roll of film today it will be the same quality product that you buy six months from now.
CP / JAMES – I was surprised to see that the shop had reopened today, after more than a year. What enabled this?
DAVE – Today was the first step to getting our film out in the world continuously. We opened the shop quietly, sort of on purpose because if we’re to get a sudden flood of buyers, that’s when problems become crises. And doing things slowly allows us to squash any bugs before they become problems. We’ve limited how many units per order because we want as many people as possible to be able to experience the film.
CP / JAMES – Is the new production version of Ferrania P30 different to the 2017 Ferrania P30 Alpha? If so, in what ways?
DAVE – The reaction [to the 2017 Ferrania P30 Alpha film] was fantastic. And even though we called it Alpha, it was very much a final product. So the film [Ferrania P30] that we have today is very similar. There were some chemical changes that were made to allow us to produce the film easier and more consistently, but we were very careful not to change anything that would alter the look of the images the film makes. We were very proud of the  product and we didn’t want to change that at all. Visually there’s no difference between our Alpha product and the current production Ferrania P30.
If there’s any difference it’s that the new stuff is a little more forgiving when processing. Everyone who’s tested the new film so far has said it’s generally easier to use than our 2017 product.
CP / JAMES – When Ferrania P30 Alpha was available for purchase in 2017, it sold out within days, after which the store was closed until today. Can we expect the same thing to happen this time, or will Ferrania P30 now be available continuously?
DAVE – In 2017 when we first released Ferrania P30 Alpha, we sold out in four days. And then it took us several months of painstaking production (and a lot of waste) to produce those rolls that we pre-sold. And it became clear very quickly that that was not a sustainable way to run a shop.
Since 2017 we’ve improved every part of the production chain. We’ve ramped up production twice in the last six months, as far as how many master rolls we can produce each week. We’ve doubled production from our first small run which we produced in August, 2019 [these rolls were shipped to Italian camera shops]. But we want to be very careful about doubling our production capacity each time we do it, as we don’t want to introduce any flaws or compromise the quality of the film.
So we might sell out of films a few days at a time, here or there, but we have regular stock being produced now, and we’ve already established internally that we can produce and distribute a certain amount of film every week. As production increases in January and then again in February and again following every month next year, the chance that we sell out of our stock will naturally become less and less of an issue.
CP / JAMES – Orders are currently limited to the USA and Canada. Will this change, and do you have any idea when customers in other parts of the world will be able to buy Ferrania P30?
DAVE – We are intending to be a global company, but we are still extremely small in terms of the staff, and we want to take things slow. We want to make an EU store as soon as we can, but we don’t want to do that until we can cover the continuous orders we’ll receive in a way that we’re not over-reaching. We want to make sure that everyone who buys film from us can get the support that they might need.
CP / JAMES – Some Kickstarter backers will see the availablitity of Ferrania P30 and ask “Where’s the color film?” We know that there’s an ongoing video series available to Kickstarter backers that directly addresses this question. But I wanted to get your take on this, and give you a chance to respond.
DAVE – The truth of the matter is that over the last few years we’ve learned a lot, both inside the factory in Italy but also we’ve learned a lot about what we can do right now, as opposed to what we’re excited about doing in the future. Of course it’s not the case that we can do everything from day one. So we’ve decided to be a little bit silent the past few months because we want to be very careful about what we say so that we don’t create an expectation that we can’t deliver on. We’re committed to giving our Kickstarter backers something useful and worthwhile. But how this will shape up exactly will be addressed in the future.
For more on Ferrania P30 Alpha, including development information and an earlier interview with Dave, see our film profile here. We’ll have more articles on this new version of Ferrania P30 coming soon.
If you’d like to buy Ferrania P30, you can do so via their shop here.
Follow Casual Photophile on Facebook and Instagram
[Some of the links in this article will direct users to our affiliates at B&H Photo, Amazon, and eBay. By purchasing anything using these links, Casual Photophile may receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. This helps Casual Photophile produce the content we produce. Many thanks for your support.]
I hope it is a lot better than the early production film I got, which was dire with streaks and scratches. I really cannot understand all the hoopla to produce yet another B&W negative film, where the market already has many and better alternatives from Kodak, Ilford, Foma, Rollei, Agfa, Lomo, Svema and others. If they were doing something really useful, like re-introducing Ferraniachrome, the hype might have been justified.