Re: Experimental films showing at various Universities

From: Jason Halprin (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Nov 26 2008 - 06:45:43 PST

Hi Dominic,

I do not dispute that the issue you bring up is quite valid, but it appears to me that some of the connections you make below between single faculty members, the value of experimental work in the eyes of a particular department, and the frequency with which they rent from Canyon may not be accurate.

In the case of my alma mater, CU-Boulder, a quick check of their current faculty would reveal a list of experimental artists and classes featuring experimental production. Also, It should be noted that the two (critical analysis) courses I took from Stan Brakhage featured mainly narrative film, so perhaps it was the disappearance of his weekly salon that really accounts for some of the drop in rentals. I'm speculating about that last point, but it should also be brought up that CU, like a number of other institutions, has a sizeable archive, so perhaps a push was made for faculty to use resources that had already been purchased and housed on site before renting prints to show in class. If one of the current CU faculty on this list would like to correct me or add on to this, it would be appreciated.

Another example I might bring up is the institution where I teach, Columbia College Chicago. The focus of our film program is not experimental, and it is safe to say that the 25 or so students (we have about 2000, yes 2000 film & video students) who sign up for the Optical Printing class each semester represent the bulk of our students who are making experimental 16mm work. We show films from Canyon in class almost every week (viewing "Alone, Life Wastes Andy Hardy" last night in class is the highlight of my week). The weekly rentals are supported by the course fees, and I'm fortunate to have stepped into a situation where a rental budget was already in place. Perhaps Columbia is an outlier in this discussion, but as the two people who teach Optical Printing are adjunct faculty, our "retirement" would leave no room to argue for an appropriate replacement (something you point out as a likely situation), though it is plausible that someone who could
 teach the Printing class would be hired. I think the more likely reason that you would see rentals decline (actually, cease), would be an elimination of the course entirely. That is something I would fight against, but as I'm not allowed to vote on the committee that would ultimately make the decision, rhetoric would be my only weapon.

I'm on the side of keeping places like Canyon up and running, which is one of the reasons I site when justifying the costs of showing rented films in class. If the school were to have purchased two films per semester for the last ten years, we would have an adequate archive for our needs, but I'd rather not leave it up to our library to care for the films and to have the choice of entire catalogs of films to choose from.

Urging people who teach to take an active interest in their replacement is a good start. I suggest that more arguments be articulated regarding the value of showing art, and specifically film, on its original medium. And, I'd like to hear other opinions about this issue...

-Jason Halprin

Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2008 13:31:24 -0800
From: DOMINIC ANGERAME <email suppressed>
Subject: Experimental films showing at various Universities

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I originally address to Gene Youngblood, however thought I would put this o=
ut there to the entire list.

Dear Gene,

I know that you have retired,=A0 however, I was curious if the
person who replaced you had any experimental film inclinations. Canyon
no longer receives any rental requests from the College of Santa Fe and
it was, until your retirement, one of our biggest renters,=A0 The
unfortunate situation appears that a lot of experiment film classes or
programs are mostly one person driven. Once that person retires the
replacement is no longer interested in experimental cinema. I first
noticed this when Dick Myers retired from Kent State. He use to rent at
least $1500 a year for film screenings. Canyon has not received one
film rental request since he left. The same is true for Occidental
College when Chick Strand left, all rentals stopped. Stan Brakhage use
to rental at least $5000 worth of experimental films from Canyon a the requests from UCB have dwindled down considerably. This
is the same for the San Francisco Art Institute, School of the Art of
Chicago, University of Oklahoma and many more places too numerous to
list here.

What I might suggest to those on the list that are still teaching and
plan to retire to try and have a say about the replacement and their
interest in experimental cinema. It would certainly help the field stay
alive. I realize that often times teachers have no say in who their
replacement will be.=20


Dominic Angerame

Exec. Director, Canyon Cinema

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


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