Re: Film Group research query

From: Jeff Kreines (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Dec 29 2006 - 13:38:15 PST

I grew up in Chicago, and my first few films were edited on cast-off
rewinds, synchronizer, and Moviscop from The Film Group. I had a job
cleaning prints of ARII and others for a now-defunct distributor,

Mike Shea sadly died in 1996, in a helicopter crash while shooting a
Meat Loaf video. Mike Gray went out to Hollywood, wrote "The China
Syndrome," and is still out there. I did run into Gray on the street
once, when he was filming the Conspiracy Trial for a film Nick Ray
never finished.


I only met Mike Shea once, in 1972, in LA, where he had settled. He
had never fit in with the NY cinema-verite crowd, because he was less
pretentious. (He had rented space at 56 W. 45th, where Leacock-
Pennebaker was, but Penny never talked to him in the elevator...) He
shot some low-budget features like "Unholy Rollers" in LA, and did a
lot of documentary shooting for hire.

Somewhere I have a print of Shea's film "Campaign 1968" which is
mostly stuff shot with RFK and Humphrey (nice scene with James Brown
campaigning for HHH in Watts). Of course his film about Maxwell
Street, "And This is Free" is pretty wonderful -- the only real
document of that amazing place and the music.

The Film Group made their living doing commercials for Kentucky Fried
Chicken and industrials for drug companies (one of which was printed
so many times that it stretched the dupe technology of the day -- a
print for every doctor in the US). There was a piece about them
(mostly about Gray) in the Chicago Tribune Sunday magazine circa
1970, as he was making "The Murder of Fred Hampton." (I was at the
world premiere, with not many other folks, at the Three Penny Cinema
in Chicago.)

But there's not much in print, as they tended to remain anonymous
(corporate collectivism?). Of course, Howard Alk, who you can see in
DONT LOOK BACK (big bearded guy snapping fingers at ersatz jazz with
Dylan, a pal of Dylan's until he died) edited ARII and I think
"Cicero March" (great film, more Shea than Gray I think) as well as
some of Dylan's films like EAT THE DOCUMENT and RENALDO AND CLARA as
well as Lerner's FESTIVAL. His wife Jones Alk took sound on DONT
LOOK BACK, and Jones' sister (if I remember correctly) is Susan
Raymond (AN AMERICAN FAMILY) whose husband/partner Alan Raymond did
sound on Shea's CAMPAIGN 1968.

As far as this year's Registry, it was pretty short on non-fiction...

Jeff "font of useless historical information" Kreines

On Dec 29, 2006, at 12:03 PM, Jonathan Kahana wrote:

> Frameworkers,
> Would anyone be able to point me to any sources of information on the
> 1960s/70s Chicago-based collective (The) Film Group? Film Group did
> a lot
> of work in commercials and industrials, but from what I can glean
> took
> on this work in order to support the production of radical independent
> work. I'm looking specifically for information about their
> production of a
> remarkable documentary short (about 7 min.) called CICERO MARCH;
> principals on this film included Mike Gray (of THE MURDER OF FRED
> and AMERICAN REVOLUTION 11) and Mike Shea. Chicago Film Archives has a
> print of the film; apart from some documentation of the Film Group at
> their website and an article in the Chicago Tribune, around the
> time that
> CFA received a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to
> preserve CICERO MARCH, about 18 months ago, there's little to be
> found.
> (Rumor had it that CICERO MARCH was discussed for the National Film
> Registry see Andy Lampert's recent post but there's nothing by the
> Film Group on this year's list.) Any leads at all greatly appreciated,
> on-list or off.
> Thanks,
> Jonathan Kahana
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

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