From: jennifer fieber (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Feb 09 2006 - 11:09:33 PST
> The men and women who created North American avant-garde film in the
> 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s by making a series of form-giving
> masterpieces did so out of personal passion. Many of them believed in
> the "soul" and thought they were getting a bit closer to it in their
> work. And they were most often marginal outsiders, ignored or even
> ridiculed by the establishment of which you are so much a part. Indeed,
> the things they said, in film and in words, were so far out of the
> mainstream that when I first came on the scene in 1963, I observed that
> most people had no idea what to make of them. The things you write, by
> contrast, can be heard in almost any college film program today -- and
> could have been heard there 20 or more years ago too.
This sentiment seems to lead one down a dangerous path from an aspiring
filmmaker's point of view. (I realize that in a later paragraph that Fred
says he is not looking to learn "the uniqueness of the artist's emotions")
But I think there often is a confusion between the power of a film and the
role of the filmmaker, even if fred does not intend to create one. And if a
filmmaker begins to be seduced by the idea that the notoriety one of his/her
films "proves" that he/she is special and should be treated as such, this
can lead to disappointment in the film world which pays rentals of $3 a
minute or (worst) a change in personality.
Having attended a multi-medium art school, I remember the bemusement I used
to feel by the other departments' emphasis on training the professional
skills needed to break through to the larger world. There was an absurd
notion--which I blame the school for--that just by being accepted to the
school, you WERE an "artist". The often-quoted Jospeph Beuys line about how
everyone was an artist led many to extreme laziness which meant the rest of
had to suffer through their one-hour group. The crass reality is that the
school cared first about your money when they let you in. If you never made
another piece upon graduation they could care less. The kids of the
filmmaking department --experimental; no narrative allowed!--at least seemed
realistic in the odds of getting anyone other than fellow enthusiasts to
watch your films. They made films because they wanted to, at the time.
Now that I'm out of school, still making films, and also getting a view of
the art world from the point of view of the hired help who installs the art
or the projectionist who keeps things in focus, I am disturbed when
things--but more importantly their makers-- get exaggerated to mythic
I have certainly had the sort of soul-shattering experiences that Fred talks
about, but know that it is a personal event between me and the film. When
it comes to artists as "marginalized outsiders", all I want is for the
artist (and the curator) to be decent to me when I have to hang their work
on the wall. Often they are not and it's hard not to to look at the work
insured for an insane amount of money as a big empty object created by the
egotism of the system.
All I'm saying is I don't think that it's healthy for artists or the
And what's wrong with having a job? How balanced would you be if you could
actually make a living alone from films?
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.