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#SavingFilm: The relevance of film today

Updated: Jun 18, 2019

We kick-off a series of stories about film, its influence and efforts to save it. On this episode, we talk about the relevance of film in today's saturated world of digital.

Interest in film went on a decline since digital was introduced in the 2000s but with the help of loyal enthusiasts, film survives to this day.

According to Ilford's survey, among 6800 respondents aged 44 and below shoot more film than digital compared to those who’re older —a growing interest among the younger generation.

But with few film cameras on the market, and its factory machines obsolete, the question remains to haunt us, is film still relevant today?

We spoke to Mario de Leon, a film enthusiast and an entrepreneur who’s passion revolves around saving pieces of what remains from the film era.

“Film introduces the present into the eyes of the past. It's only recently that the digital world has taken over. A world where the faster and flawless dominate.”


We zoom into the Philippines —the social media capital of the world with a rate of 99% penetration according to We Are Social and Hootsuite’s report in January. Mario explains that there’s also a bright side to digital's dominance over analog.

“It is the case that some people just never stopped using film. Armed with their own chemicals, aficionados kept shooting. If its one thing digital has contributed to film, its communication. People reside online.”

But as it took over, producing photographs became an automated process with less of the physical aspect involved. Unlike emulation through filters on smartphone apps, film’s unique and organic nature is authentic, and among its greatest trait.

“Filter swiping has allowed for the democratization of art, but easily made and easily consumed, much of the labor of art is lost."

Mario came to the Philippines after studying in Canada —a country with one of the highest rates of active newbies and returning film users.

“In Vancouver, I've had the pleasure to work some amazing photographers and even befriended Take Kayo from BigheadTaco. It's common to see film cameras slung on passerby’s shoulders downtown."

Pop culture is also pinned as one of the biggest influence on the resurgence in Canada with instant film cameras like Instax and Polaroid Originals. Comparing it to the Philippines with more interactions online and less physical, the social aspect of film photography takes on a different route.

“What I'd like to see transferred here in the Philippines is the small physical get-togethers with friends. Lomomanila and various forums boasts many members. I'd like to see those members face to face more.”

Aside from being a film enthusiast, Mario also handles Epic —a family-owned cafe built for people who love their hobby, want to relax and sip coffee.

“Epic was my parent's dream. It evolved into a mix-mash of all of our hobbies. The walls have my cameras —they have become part of its identity. We want Epic to be a place where film can thrive. We're looking for workshops and the like to happen there.”

Mario shares his advice to those who want to try film for the first time and those who plan on going back.

“Do it. Don't think too much about it. Just pick up the camera, put down your phone, and shoot. Do this: Buy a point and shoot and cheap film. Put it in your bag, maybe you’ll remember its there. Look in the viewfinder and fall in love again.”


It has been 134 years since George Eastman introduced the first consumer film. With the re-establishment of Kodak and The New Tetenal, it is needless to say that we’ve gone a long way. The resurgence of film and interest among consumers is evident. People are starting to see the opportunity in it.

With enthusiasts like Mario who believe in its core purpose —to thrive artistically from the analog process, the next generation deserves film’s much awaited comeback.

#SavingFilm is an ongoing blog series by Born in Film.

Tune in to for future stories

For those who want to visit Epic Café, you may visit them at Kapitolyo in Pasig and their newly opened branch in Coron, Palawan. For more details you may visit their social page: Epic Cafe

To see more of Mario's work, you may visit his instagram feed below.

Follow him on his handle @lionstone.

Born in Film is a non-profit group run by passion-driven individuals. 

Creating advocacy-related events requires monetary support. Help us #Savefilm by purchasing our limited edition merchandise or by participating with our scheduled huddles. You can also send your donations via this link.

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