An Update on Impossible Color Film Production.
Recently, our customers have noticed with some alarm that an increasing number of Impossible films have been out-of-stock for extended periods on our web shop. Even in many of our largest retail partners, there has been little or no inventory, especially of color films.
In this open letter to our customers, Impossible's CEO, Creed O'Hanlon, explains what's going on:
"August 19th, 2013, was something of a watershed for Impossible's ambitious plans to revive Polaroid's™ classic integral film formats. On that day, on my instruction, all production at Impossible's film plant in Enschede, in the Netherlands, was suspended and a complete review of our production and quality control processes was undertaken.
"When production resumed, a month later, a new, incremental process of development was instituted to ensure each new batch of film we produced was an improvement on the batch before.
"We also changed the nomenclature and packaging for our entire film range, making them more easily identifiable and understood.
"In November, 2013, we were very fortunate to be able to recruit Stephen Herchen - a founder of Zink Imaging and a former Chief Technology Officer for Polaroid™, who had worked directly with Polaroid's™ legendary founder and inventor, Edwin Land - as Impossible's CTO and Chief Operating Officer.
"Stephen's arrival further energised our research and development programs based in Enschede and Monheim, Germany. It wasn't long before customers were expressing their enthusiasm for our new films, particularly our B&W 600 and SX-70 films, which were, for the first time, made entirely with positive and negative sheets manufactured within our Monheim plant.
"The right components and chemicals are key to the development and manufacture of good films. In early 2014, we were informed by one of our suppliers that we would no longer be able to buy the most important component in our color films, the so-called ‘electron donor', from them. We had only two alternative suppliers and both required longer than expected delivery times.
"Nevertheless, under Stephen's direction, plans were drawn up to fast-track Impossible color films towards what we took to calling Impossible Generation 2.0. These plans will soon result in a faster processing, sharper and more stable color film for all our existing formats.
"But as the saying goes, 'there's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip'. Unplanned delays in supply and obstacles in achieving the right paste formulation for our new positive and negative sheets created a shortfall in the production of Color 600 film in May, this year, and this worsened in June, when inventories of Color SX-70 were also affected. In Europe and the USA, this shortfall became so acute, inventories of standard, white-frame color films ran out completely.
"Late last week, vital chemical components arrived at the factory and production was finally able to resume. It will take another week or so to ramp up production and ship the output to our warehouses in Europe, the USA and Asia.
"Will the new films be worth the wait? There will always be room for further improvement. At Impossible, we are totally dedicated to a process of continuous refinement. However, this would not be possible without the relentless (and forgiving) support of our customers, whom we regard as our partners in this process.
"Please continue to give us your feedback (yes, and your criticisms). And thank you all for your patience."