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April 3, 2014

My short career as a film-maker

The course I took in film-making was a basic introductory one. Always needing to be different, while the other students used small, modern, hand-held, battery-powered cameras with zoom lenses and shot color super 8mm film, I chose to use a monster of a Bolex with a three-lens turret. The Bolex had to be wound up every 20 seconds, needed a shoulder rest or a tripod, and shot black and white 16mm film that needed special processing.

I cobbled together an animation stand and had film splicing and editing equipment. An old army-surplus shoulder bag held film spools and extra lenses. (Deni had kindly drawn a very Dan O'Neill style Mickey Mouse on the bag flap.

I tried. I shot long traveling shots down deserted alleys, empty stairwells, and deserted rooftops, presumably trying to translate my angst into images. Long boring minutes of minutely filmed brickwork were so tedious that I couldn't even watch it to edit it. I finally edited it into a seizure inducing short piece that I almost immediately dumped in the trash.

Realizing that Andy Warhol had naught to fear from my work, I turned briefly to journalism. This lasted a few days in May 1970 and culminated with being tear-gassed on New Haven Green as I unsuccessfully tried to get close enough to Jean Genet, Benjamin Spock, Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, or William Sloane Coffin to get a recognizable shot. (Those were the demonstrations at the Bobby Seale, Ericka Huggins trial.)

My last foray was into animation. I still have the reel. It was the only color film I shot. Denise did the artwork and I worked out an infantile shooting script. It was a psychedelic countryside with a flowing river and glittering sun. A black egg rolls into the frame, breaks into three parts to become a bird shape, and flies away. The entire film was about 45 seconds long and took us an entire long weekend to shoot.

Thus ended my illustrious film career.