Safety Practices for Film and Equipment

The following is a list of practices for use of film and equipment during production. The list is based on recent insurance company claims. We hope you will find it useful in reducing various types of losses.

  1. Treat exposed film and negative as if it were cash. Do not let it out of your sight. Don’t leave it in a taxi or car while you run an errand. Do not inadvertently leave it on the roof or trunk of your car.
  2. Handle film very carefully. Striking another object even slightly can damage film.
  3. Keep an eye out for equipment theft, especially expensive equipment. If you are more than 10 feet away from the equipment, or out of the line of sight, it can be stolen. Take extra precautions while in foreign locations and airports. This is where equipment theft increases dramatically.
  4. Make sure there is adequate security for camera equipment at all times.
  5. Everybody makes a mistake at one time or another. If someone makes a mistake and accidentally damages equipment or film, have them report it immediately. It is better to take the heat for a mistake or an accident up front than for others to find out later that an accident was covered up.
  6. After a black-out or brown-out or other disturbance in the electrical system or generator, check the electrical frequency with a frequency meter to ensure it is correct and will not cause a flicker in the film.
    Be careful when loading and unloading magazines make sure film does not get mixed and you do not end up with one roll of blank film and one double exposed roll. This is especially important when handling short ends.
  7. Check the magazine for damage, ensure that light cannot enter and expose the film.
  8. Be sure that static build up is discharged from the magazine. Asks for assistance before or when opening a magazine so the static does not arc and damage the film.
  9. Check the film changing bag for damage to ensure light cannot enter and expose the film.
  10. Clean the camera after each reload, and check for emulsion build up.
  11. Do a scratch test occasionally with short ends to make sure the camera is not scratching the film even though there appears to be no build up.
  12. Look through the barrel of the lens occasionally to make sure the iris is not stuck or broken.
  13. Make sure that you get a receipt for film delivered to the processing lab and be certain that it matches what was sent or brought in.
  14. Be aware that heat from lights placed near fire sprinklers can activate the sprinklers and damage camera equipment. Fire sprinklers normally are set to activate at 165 degrees.

Airport Baggage Scanning


Airport authorities around the world, pointedly, terminals at Heathrow Airport in London, have been installing new, more powerful anti-terrorist baggage scanners. These devices randomly scan baggage holds explosive devices and the like.

It would not be evident to the passenger that their baggage would be subjected to these new scanners. These machines are mainly manufactured by a California based company called Invisiontech and are typically CTX5000’s. Invisiontech has been very helpful and acknowledged that, while scanning is safe for tape, it will totally "wipe" most film, whether domestic camera or film industry format. Apparently, the scanner takes various 360 degree sliced pictures of the complete item. Invisiontech has been forbidden by the FAA to release the names and locations of the airports currently using these scanners.

Therefore, we urge all of our production companies to make complete inquiries at all airports as to the use of these scanners before checking any baggage that may contain film.

The following precautions should be taken:

  • Pack and carry film separately
  • Explain the situation to the respective airline representative and recruit their assistance
  • Ensure that the film is CHECK ONLY AS HAND BAGGAGE, and where necessary have the film checked through the hand baggage scanners known to be safe for film.
  • Where required by the airline perhaps because of bulk or weight of the film it is necessary to place the film in the aircraft hold, make sure that the airline checks the baggage containing any film through the HAND BAGGAGE SCAN ONLY. Then, by special arrangement, you should personally deliver the film through the checkout and hand baggage scan and entrust it to the airline representative to deliver to the hold, thus bypassing the high powered scanner.

We strongly recommend that you follow the above procedures to avoid having any serious coverage implications on your negative film insurance.

We understand that Invisiontech is working on a new model, sufficiently powerful for its primary purpose and safe for film. However, many airports could have the earlier version installed and may not immediately upgrade to the new version.

Anti-terrorist scanners have serious implications on the safety of film in transit when unaccompanied by the insured. This includes film sent by air courier. We suggest that you contact your courier or air freight service to inquire if there are any precautions they can take on your behalf.

There is a possibility that Kodak is currently working on formal industry guidelines for the safe carriage of film. However, this may not be achieved for some time, and we want all producers to be aware of these hazardous circumstances and take the necessary steps to protect their film.

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       —  Sunny Han, Producer, Local Tiger International Co., Ltd., Taiwan