Fogged Film From Airport X-rays

From: Ken Paul Rosenthal (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Feb 07 2007 - 12:48:05 PST

Consulting the Frameworks archives should reveal, I recall, a significant
X-ray thread from around 2002. I had been teaching in Singpore and was
traveling frequently around that region. Some highlights I learned the hard

1) NEVER cop attitude. It used to work in the pre-911 days. Even going
through Israeli security during the Intifada days. Now it just invites
suspicion. Flying out of Singapore enroute to Bali, I put up such a fuss
about them wanting to open each and every one of my 40 rolls of Super 8
film, that I was literally surrounded by a gaggle of security within
minutes. With 10 minutes to go before my plane took off, I had no choice but
to consent.

2) A hand check in a dark room in Canada worked out just fine (no jokes
here please!). Imperative for film on a core, less so, obviously, if it's on
a daylight spool. An admittedly absurd but practical possibility is to carry
a super small changing bag for airport personal to use on the spot, or at
least in a side room. So much depends on the size of the airport/line your
standing in. Coming out of JFK a few months ago was a nightmare. I was
shocked at how punchy the security was. Not the sort of folks you could
reason with. There appeared to be no method to their madness. Despite this,
my Super 8 and Video stock was hand checked without question. But I think
it's important to leave time to negotiate, if necessary, as well as time to
size up the situation and calmly approach security rather than succumb to
the hustle and bustle of the moment. Between this, and securely packing my
eq so it won't get damaged, I've learned that traveling deserves as much
planning as the project itself. Please don't take for granted that a split
second of insensitivity and ignorance on the part of a airport security
worker can wipe out months of pre-production and cost you hundreds of
dollars (or more) in a split second!!!

3) If you can find a reliable lab in the region abroad where you are
shoting, process your film there. If not, ship it with a reliable shipper
and use THEIR 'film enclosed, do not x-ray' stickers. I had excellent luck
shipping unprocessed film to both England and the States from Singapore via
Fed Ex with no problems whatsoever.

Good luck! Ken

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