Skip to content
June 11, 2014 / Aware of the Void

How to Retrieve a Film Leader – 35mm

Have you ever needed to extract a 35mm leader that you had rewound into the canister. I do this a few time a month to let me re-shoot rolls of film that have been sent to me for film swaps or when I do something silly.

You will need:

  • A roll of 35mm film with the leader out
  • something moist – in the video I use a damp paper towel but I have been know to use a human tongue.
  • the offending roll of film that you want to extract.
  • guile and wit (optional)

The process is simple:

  • slightly moisten the leader on the new film
  • insert it into the film you want to extract
  • turn the knob gently on the film you want to extract
  • you will feel it grab the leader on the moist film.
  • swiftly but firmly pull the two film apart.

If it does not work the first time just try again, it always works.

Fancy trying a film swap get in touch and we will set one up. Thanks for watching.



Leave a Comment
  1. dehk / Jun 12 2014 1:13 am

    Really…. I have 2 rolls I have to do now I don’t have to put em in different canisters.

    • Aware of the Void / Jun 12 2014 4:46 am

      Really!! I do this all the time. With the film swaps the film generally arrives full rewound so I have to do this.

  2. dehk / Jun 12 2014 1:31 am

    I am happy to report after many tries it worked. i had to roll it in a little more than you did!

    • Aware of the Void / Jun 12 2014 4:44 am

      I find that sometimes turning the knob the other way first can help, if the film has stuck to itself a bit it frees it up. Glad it worked in the end.

  3. joecrafted / Jun 12 2014 2:01 am

    I had been cracking them open and then putting the film in a reusable metal canisters. But I just retrieved the leader from a roll of Velvia I’ve been wanting to use with my Canon EOS 3 (which needs the DX code). Thanks!

  4. David / Jun 12 2014 9:00 pm

    Brilliant! Now I can stop trying to remember how to use that plastic thingamajig and scouring yard sales for Dyno tape.

    • Aware of the Void / Jun 12 2014 9:04 pm

      I never had much luck with the thingamajif either David – this always works for me…

  5. frauinga / Jun 13 2014 5:48 am

    Big fan of that plastic thingy…. 😉

    • Aware of the Void / Jun 13 2014 5:50 am

      Had two, fecked two in the bin. I favour a different type of irritation in my life 🙂 never really worked for me at all.

      • frauinga / Jun 13 2014 5:52 am

        I used to do the ‘put some cellotape on an old piece of film and use that’ trick, but that doesn’t work for me. The plastic thingy does. Never had problems. 🙂

      • Aware of the Void / Jun 13 2014 5:55 am

        Yeah but Inge you are graced with greatness, us mere mortals tend not to have any luck with these things.
        On another note, I just finished shooting a film swap with your name on the roll.

      • frauinga / Jun 13 2014 5:57 am

        Eh… Right. And yay for the film swap!

  6. ThisHandcraftedLife / Jun 13 2014 10:27 am

    Lifelong mystery solved! Who knew?

    • Aware of the Void / Jun 13 2014 10:35 am

      I’m saddened to think that I’m removing mystery from your life 🙂

  7. Joe / Jul 12 2014 2:58 am

    It took me about 20 tries and I no longer like the taste of emulsion, but I finally got it to work!

    Major props.

  8. idont / Sep 29 2014 7:03 pm

    You are “THE MAN!!!” many thanks, worked on the second try 🙂

  9. gsburek03 / Jan 5 2015 7:54 pm

    Thank you for this tip…the photo store I go to couldn’t find the gadget to extract the leader.

  10. Kim / Feb 28 2015 6:48 am

    You saved my night! Was panicking since I didn’t have any double sided tape. This worked like a charm on the second try. *bows* Thank you!


  1. How to Test your Film Fixer | Aware of the Void
  2. Let me show you something… | If Time Stood Still...
  3. 2014 Blog Year in Statistics | Aware of the Void

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: