Diary of an indie film lab - Part one. | Take It Easy Film Lab

Diary of an indie film lab - Part one.

So, it’s July… but is it July? Surely from March till now really doesn’t count as actual time…

Slowly coming out of this whole Covid situation has got us looking back at the year so far and what we have achieved. Well, not as much as we would have liked to achived thats 100% for sure. But for the last few weeks at least we’ve begun to make more progress and feel like we’re actually getting somewhere in terms of being ready to go live with the film lab.


Let’s go back to the day we got our film developer back out of storage, after around eight, EIGHT years of waiting for us to bring it back life.

Here it is, the day we got it out of storage and into the studio.

Looking at it right there I thought, “this is great, plug and play, we can just turn it back on, clean it up, buy some chemicals and we’re ready to rock” I was very wrong.

Turns out nearly eight years of being idle in a storage space without having a deep clean doesn’t do this machine much good.

Roll on the clean up process…

The Clean Up


Removing all of the tanks and sensors, checking for dirt, rust, pigeons, rats…


Cleaning the bottom of the machine, we’re going ALL IN.


The V30 tanks even got their own VIP treatment, a trip back to Saltaire for a nice warm bath.

The service


With all the parts we dared touch clean, it was time to turn it on and see what it had to say for itself. Turned out it had some pretty harsh words to say, and wasn’t happy at all. Amongst all the cracking, creaking and banging, we did hear the machine say “You left me in the storage unit for EIGHT years without lubricating ANY of my parts, and look what you’ve done, turned me on. What did you expect? Now you’ve gone and snapped my cogs clean off meaning you can’t use me and i’m going to cost you big time” I think it was something like that, but we understood loud and clear. This is the part where we stopped touching the machine and brought in the professional. Meet Brian.

You know when people say, “such a small world isn’t it!” Well get this…

Long story short, I bought this V30 from Snappy Snaps in Leeds, where I used to work. When Snappy Snaps in Leeds first opened, BRIAN, the guy here on the left, was the one to install the machine, AND used to come and service it! I even totally remembered him when he turned up at the studio, and boy was he emotional when he was reunited with me and the long lost V30. (He wasn’t, he barely recognised me, probably because i didn’t have my yellow Snappy Snaps cap on)

After some real hard graft from Brian, he managed to prize apart the broken cog from the drive wheel, and set about getting a new one sourced. Once that came, Brian came in again and fitted the parts. We turned it on, and yes! It turned on..

Brian left and his last words to us were, leave it on for a bit, let the water run through it and see if it flushes through to make sure you don’t have any air bubbles or broken seals. What did we do? We turned it off, moved it to the corner of the room so that we could get a photo for Instagram.

We turned it back on, booooooooooooom. Power goes out. What have we done? Did we spill water onto the electrics? Have we just broken the machine?

We bought a Scanner!

So yeah, we took a risk with this, but we had faith in our developer machine and knew we could get it working, so we decided to crack on and get the next part of the puzzle, the scanner. We toyed with getting a little Epson scanner, but we just knew it wouldn’t cut it. We want to provide one of the best services going so we had to go for the big boys. Our choices were out of the Noritsu LS-1800, and the Fuji frontier SP-3000. If you know your scanners, you will be able to tell that we opted for the Fuji. These guys are insane, and at about half the price of the Noritsu, our minds were already made up.

We lucked out and found a very local dealer who had a few of these ready to go. We rented a van, I got my girlfriend to drive us said van as I don’t drive (sorry Searlait) and we set off. After about 3 hours of run through from the seller, we got on the road with the scanner, and Tom in the back, sorry Tom but you did an amazing job stopping the scanner from sliding around / falling out of the van. Imagine that. We would have been famous in Huddersfield for shutting down the M62.

Below are a few of the scans we took from it in the weeks we had it…



Well I mean, for a first scan, you couldn’t get much better than a portrait of Colin Greenwood from Radiohead?!


And this is equally as good, the Kaiser chiefs guys, shot by our man Nick!


This shot is from my Cousin Joe Singleton, from a series he’s working on for his Masters on Scunthorpe Steelworks.

So… The scanners in the studio, the developer is on it’s way to being fixed… A week or so and we’re ready to rock? Nah, let me welcome to the ring, mr Covid-19….

Introducing Covid 19 & Lockdown


This is where the rest of the year disappears. Just before the whole lockdown happened, I (Liam) went to Portugal for a little winter sun for a week. During our last few days in Portugal I got many phone calls from my mum saying that we need to come home before we get stuck abroad. Me and my girlfriend were just like “how much red wine have you been drinking?” But it was when our hotel asked us to leave the hotel AND the country a few days early that we knew something pretty big was happening. The image to the left is the view from our hotel room so you can see why we would want to stay…

We managed to get a flight back to England and got a pretty instant feeling of the fear from whatever was happening. This was the middle of March that we got back from our holiday, and now it’s July. In that time, we’ve been to the studio just two times. Me and Tom both work full time for the same company, and were lucky enough to be able to work from home during lockdown. We couldn’t justify getting the train on evenings to go to the studio, but also the fact that nothing was open, we couldn’t be near anyone meant that getting a fix for our machine was off the table for the time being.

It’s only been in the last few weeks that things have begun to ease a little, I think this is far too premature for the country, but I’ll leave politics out of our blog posts hey…

Back to it, slowly but surely…

It feels like we’ve progressed massively with the lab in the last few weeks, imagine if there hadn’t been the massive corona shaped gap, we’d have been the next big thing right?! Right, here’s where were at now. The scanner is all fine and dandy, the only problem the the scanner is that it’s super hungry, ready for of your films!

This is what progress looks like at the moment, it might look negative, but it really isn’t, it’s getting there!




The next move


So what’s next? Next up is this weekend. The developer has been turned on, and has ONE LAST HURDLE. (we think) After that, we’re plain sailing. Buy chemicals, put some test films through the developer, shout out to the world that we’re open, become rich, you get it… But for now, let me leave you with an image that gives the impression that we’re already there and we still don’t have to finish fixing the developer.

Anybody waiting to have your films / slides scanned, what are you waiting for!

Check out our full list of services here

Till next time!

Liam xx