Re: David Tetzlaff's rant

From: Scott MacDonald (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Feb 07 2006 - 09:59:51 PST

I don't want to get into the video/DVD/film print issue
here and now, but with regard to where to find the money
for renting films, all I can say is that my experience is
that in most academic contexts there are sources of money,
many of which are not used.

Obviously, some colleges and universities have more
funding available than others, but I'm always suspicious
of the idea that there's no money available because for 27
years I worked at what by any measure was an underfunded
school (Utica College) and always had adequate rental

Like any new academic endeavor, working to set aside
funding for rentals takes time, much conversation with
colleagues and administrators, inventive working across
disciplinary lines, collaboration with organizations
dedicated to funding entertainment for students, and with
the library.

I don't think there's only one way, of course; and I don't
claim it's easy. But what can one do but do one's best
and be persistent about it.

Currently I'm teaching at Hamilton College, a well-endowed
private college, where my rental budget is virtually
unlimited and I have considerable funding for bring
filmmakers and film events to campus. The same is, I'm
sure, true of many private colleges that, however, do not
present events or rent films in 16mm even in those cases
where it's the best thing to do. Even at Hamilton, I'm
often told that money is scarce and that times are tough.

In bigger colleges and in universities with film studies
and production majors, getting more funding would require
departmental commitment to the idea that exhibition,
carefully curated exhibition, must be part of the
department's mission, enough commitment to convince
administrators that funding must be made available. It's
like any other discipline; one must make the best case one
can for the best possible program and continue to make it
over and over.


On Tue, 7 Feb 2006 12:06:34 -0500
  Jonathan Walley <email suppressed> wrote:
>A few remarks on this thread. I've been teaching film
>studies and doing film programming (both in and out of
>academia) for several years, and some of the things that
>have come up on Frameworks over the past couple days are
>all too familiar.
>First, I think the debate has (at times) conflated two
>issues. The first is whether or not video is an adequate
>form for viewing experimental film, whether the videos
>are legitimate copies or not. The second issue is whether
>or not making unauthorized video duplicates of film
>prints is ethical. Obviously, not all video copies of
>experimental films are illegitimate; I purchased a copy
>of the "by Brakhage" DVD from Criterion (I also had the
>Denison Cinema Department and the Denison Library each
>purchase a copy), which had Brakhage's "seal of
>approval." Since this video was made with the artist's
>permission and was purchased (and not duped from someone
>else's copy), I'm not sure either of the above-mentioned
>issues applies. yes, I would prefer to show films in
>16mm, but given the circumstances of the "by Brakhage"
>release, is it really problematic if I show the DVD
>versions instead?
>The collection of Maya Deren films released on DVD by
>Mystic Fire is a bit more complicated. Deren died well
>before the advent of home video and DVD, so we can't ever
>know for certain how she would have felt about the video
>release of her films. Given the tendency toward
>medium-specificity talk in her writings, one could argue
>that she would not have approved; given how important the
>promotion of avant-garde film was to her, one could argue
>the opposite - that the video release, while not being
>perfect, at least got the films circulating more.
>All of this is to say that the artist's intent is
>obviously not always that the films MUST ABSOLUTELY be
>seen IN FILM, and that it is not always even possible to
>determine what their intent was. That is, we can't
>conflate filmmaker's intent with "see it on film or don't
>see it at all." The idea that video copies always distort
>the intended film-viewing experience to the extent that
>seeing the film on video "doesn't really count" as having
>seen the film needs to be interrogated, especially as
>more and more experimental filmmakers, even the so-called
>"purists," release their work on video.
>The other, distinct, issue is the ethicality of
>unauthorized duplication (which, by the way, does not
>necessarily - that is, by definition - produce
>poor-quality copies). I can't say I know exactly where I
>fall on this issue - an unauthorized copy of an
>experimental film in my personal collection deprives the
>filmmaker and/or distributor (those folks fighting the
>good fight, like FMC and Canyon) of funds, but on the
>other hand it enables me as a teacher to expose my
>students to said film when: a) I lack the funds to bring
>the film in as a print, or; b) I lack the time to arrange
>the booking and shipping of the print. This isn't to say
>that the "wrong" of unauthorized copying is balanced by
>the "right" of spreading the word about avant-garde film
>by any means necessary, but to point out potentially
>mitigating factors related to the practice of copying. I
>think this reiterates some of what Tony Conrad said
>earlier today, and with which I absolutely agree.
>On that note: the only solution to the problem of a lack
>of rental funds that I have read in this thread is "try
>harder, the money is out there." But this simply isn't
>the case - at least not always. Departmental/University
>budget constraints are real, and the financial
>gatekeepers cannot always be moved to give you more
>money. Grant-writing takes time that teachers don't
>always have, and grant applications get refused. Small
>departments, small towns/cities, community colleges,
>etc., don't have the money to support a semester of
>avant-garde film screenings. I'm not saying this makes
>bootlegging right - I'm asking this: in the very real and
>often unavoidable situation wherein a film professor
>wants to put together a course on experimental cinema but
>lacks the funds to adequately fill out the screening
>schedule, what, OTHER THAN "GET THE MONEY ANYWAY," is
>that person to do? What are some other solutions?
>hoping to reconcile (??) the "purists" and the
>Jonathan Walley
>Cinema Department
>Denison University
>Granville, Ohio
>email suppressed
>On Feb 7, 2006, at 9:59 AM, Scott MacDonald wrote:
>> It's a busy teaching day, but I can't resist a few
>>comments on David
>> T's rant.
>> 1. If David's posting to this list had been intercepted
>>by Pip and
>> revised to suit Pip's personal convenience and ideology,
>>then sent to
>> the list under the moniker "David T," my guess is that
>>author David
>> would not be pleased. My guess is that he wants his
>>posting to reflect
>> his intent (of course, we may wonder what his REAL
>>intent is, but
>> since he did post the rant, he presumably thought he
>>knew what he was
>> doing, and wouldn't want anyone to fiddle with his
>>work). And since
>> his rant is signed, we know he wants to be recognized as
>>"the author."
>> And, hell, I want to know what he thinks his intent is
>>and to read
>> exactly what he posts.
>> 2. Respecting an artist's intent and desires is not the
>>same as
>> "worshipping" the artist. My life, and my career as a
>>teacher and
>> writer, have been immensely enriched by the work of the
>>filmmakers and
>> videomakers whose work is the focus of FRAMEWORKS. This
>>work has
>> often been completed as a result of considerable
>>sacrifices by the
>> makers and, even when they do get the rentals they ask
>>for their work,
>> these rentals rarely pay for the making of the work,
>>much less
>> anything more. The least I can do is treat their
>>efforts with
>> respect--in a practical sense: I can find the money to
>>pay the rentals
>> and I can show the work as the filmmakers would wish it
>>shown. This is
>> not "worship," it's simple decency.
>> (Actually, to transmute "respect" into "worship" in this
>>context seems
>> to me to be a theoretical maneuver that allows for the
>>exploitation of
>> these cultural workers. Most of us would agree that
>>worshipping a
>> filmmaker is silly, since filmmakers are not in fact
>>deities, but if
>> not worshipping also implies not respecting, then, since
>>the makers
>> are not worthy of respect, one can do what one wishes
>>with their work,
>> including use it without paying for it. That ain't
>> 3. I too have been very impressed by Roger Beebe's
>>efforts in
>> Gainesville. If I were close enough, I'd buy him a
>>beer. But it's no
>> mystery "how he does it." He works at it. He works to
>> projectors and money and audience. He seems to
>>understand that
>> theorizing why something cannot be done is less
>>productive and
>> valuable that doing what can.
>> Scott
>> __________________________________________________________________
>> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at
>><email suppressed>.
>For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at
><email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.