|Issue 2 - February 1972|
|At the moment
you're reading the closest thing to a free newspaper that exists in this
area. The idea behind Muther Grumble, as far as I see, is free community
communication, the freedom to write and read information from a source
without a vested interest in the control of ideas and thus the freedom
to develop our own opinion of things. It was something close to this that
formed the driving force behind Fotomyx; the hope to free film information
/ experience from censorship moral or financial.
But first we have to learn that film is more than the medium of the Hollywood morals machine. By using the facilities of a circle of film distributors, who handle the growing wave of experimental / underground films we hope to show a programme of film which demonstrates the potential of the film medium as a total audio-visual experience, as a blending of sound and visual imagery whether as experience, or as an information source.
Just as theatre and particularly music have developed in recent years from the comics of a machine culture to the starships we ride to inner space and universal freedom, so film can become a gun, or a pen, in the hands of each one of us. It's only one step from McLuhan's global village to John Lennon's 'Imagine' and then we can all sing the song together. Through technology communicating has become a sensual experience on a world scale - Hendrix was an electric man the land of his lady IBM is the moon in the sky on TV is every disco's light show is the pilgrimage to the sound cities of Woodstock of Bath of the Isle of Wight.
Is 'Gimme Shelter' a film was 'Easy Rider' just a side show of moving pictures, go see 'Performance' or 'Satiricon' and convince me afterwards that you're still worried about the coins you gave to get in the theatre. Go see AC/DC and tell me if theatre is mime or film or live action or video replay.
In film the most interesting and recent developments are towards the 'Expanded' or 'synaesthetic' cinema which presents experience through image and sound. In the past this has been called underground or avant-garde cinema and films of this nature have been seen as the playground of a financial or intellectual elite, catering to a highly specialised audience.
It's all bullshit. We all have TV, most of us can listen to the new art of stereo sounds and in the same way film is easily and cheaply available to all of us (25p membership an admission at Fotomyx). Technology has outgrown its masters by mass production and so we have multiple ways of communicating freely and we see film as one of those ways.
We started with no money, no theatre, no projectors, no screen and no film. Also we had no experience and could gain none from the curfewed streets of the towns. Mainly we were street hustlers pissed off with Mecca and Top Rank Action so we got a hundred others to sign forms saying they wanted to join the Fotomyx film society, collected subscriptions, hired theatre, projector and in three weeks had a magic mushroom first showing. We screened Kenneth Anger's 'Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome' and 'Chumlum' by Ron Rice. They were both highly experimental films; the reception was mixed - I think most of us were simply shocked out of the apathy created by the years of watching narrative film; not experiencing light, shape, tone and sound.
Still we decided to keep moving forward: since then we've shown 'Mare's Tail', a 2½ hour epic by Ken Larcher of which someone said he could watch one frame a day for the rest of his life and be happy; three films by Danny Seymour, one of Yoko making her film 'Fly'; Paul Sharrit's 'Ray Gun Virus'; Polanski's 'Repulsion' and, our last show at which the film 'Diary of a Shinjuku Thief' was supplemented by some live dance and music by some Sunderland friends.
This live place did something we hope to develop; certainly we're a film club but we see a desperate shortage of play areas in the north-east, and we hope to develop into a communications lab and a theatre of mixed means.
Our next show is built around a film portrait of Jagger at Hyde Park and Pennebaker's film '1pm' featuring Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, among others. Thus, since the theme of the show is music we hope to present some live sounds as well and if you produce music an' need a venue then please contact us.
Of course our main problem is bread; we managed to present five programmes of film in two months without any grants or subsidies and thanks to the sympathetic theatre management and understanding distributors we're still alive an' growing.
We make no profit and rely entirely on the subscriptions of our members and whether we survive depends on how many of us maintain subscriptions by showing up to the shows. The theatre holds 300; at the moment our audiences vary in number from 60 to 120. In order to survive and grow we need more members and more people who will take an active part in running the thing.
We aren't a commercial venture, although by their response to our appeals the Northern Arts seem to think we are; also we aren't professionals; we need a mood of total involvement to make each show work.
As for the future, well we'll be showing among others 'Blow up', Pasolinin's 'Gospel According to St Matthew', 'Wonderwall' with George Harrison's sound track, 'Weekend' - all in the near future. With each of these films we will be showing a programme of 'shorts' and it is these that will describe this 'Expanded Cinema'. The potential of film as a light show, in fact as a source of total experience is being increasingly appreciated and independent distributors - the London Co-op, Twenty-Four Frames, the Other Cinema, Polit Kino, Cineindependent, Fair Enterprises - are endeavouring to circulate the work of the new cinema.
In these experimental films can be seen the cinema of tomorrow and we regard them as the backbone of our programmes and we hope you'll come and experience with us and help us to grow, perhaps show us how to grow.
Through technology of mass production all forms of media are available to each of us. Through music, theatre, film, and free newspaper, knowledge can be passed between us, so we can learn to liberate the tools / toys of communication in our age. If you're into using or making film / video tape / music / word images / shapes or colours please contact us and jump the gap to make the current flow and let's produce movies to show across the sky.
(next show Feb 1st 7.30pm Pier Pavilion Theatre, Ocean Road, South Shields. For membership contact Keith or Bill c/o 84 Hawthorne Ave, South Shields, tel S/S 2912)