Industry Town: The Avant-Garde and Hollywood

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Based on Romance
Industry Town: The Avant-Garde and Hollywood

611 N. Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
January 14th, 2012 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

(323) 655-2510
experimental film
Tickets: General $10, Students/seniors $6; free for Filmforum members Advance ticket purchase available through Brown Paper Tickets.


Los Angeles Filmforum partners with Cinefamily to repeat the sold-out show Industry Town: The Avant-Garde and Hollywood as part of Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980.  Many experimental works have explicitly played with the dominant film industry (Hollywood and beyond), parodying its forms or structures of manufacture or utilizing images from classic and not-so-classic films as the raw material for new creations.  We’ll start the show with one of the earliest examples of commentary on the Hollywood quest, and perhaps the first made with a expressionist bent in Los Angeles, Life and Death of 9413: A Hollywood Extra.  Its importance is such that we have included it despite it coming from before 1945.  

We continue through the decades with ever evolving approaches to the industry, practice and lifestyle of Hollywood. In Death of the Gorilla, Peter Mays manipulates footage filmed off late night television to create his own colorful collage of form and wonder. George Lucas’s 6-18-67 starts from the position of a standard movie “making of” short and subverts it into a meditation on landscape and beauty.  By the time we reach the 1970s, the conceptual investigations of art of the time find appropriate parallels. John Baldessari’s Title breaks down some of the essential elements of screenplays, language, and acting. Zebra Skin Clutch (Cynthia Maughan, 1977-78) looks at a woman and her relationship to the fabulous styles of starlets, revealing the influence of celebrity and fashion (for a lovely comparison, check out Kenneth Anger’s Puce Moment at MOCA).  Based on Romance utilizes storytelling traditions of melodrama but locates the scenes in the art world of the time.

In person:  Morgan Fisher, Peter Mays, more to be announced

Screening (Subject to change):

The Life and Death of 9413: A Hollywood Extra, by Robert Florey and Slavko Vorkapić..  Cinematography by Gregg Toland (1928, 16mm or 35mm, b/w, silent, 11min.)
Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive
Its makers all went on to become influential figures in different ways, Toland as the cinematographer of Citizen Kane and other films, Florey as director; and Vorkapich as the conceptual master of film form, teaching at USC for many years.
Article on it:

Death of the Gorilla, by Peter Mays (1966, 16mm, color, 16 min.)
Restored print from the Academy Film Archive
“Peter Mays achieved these hypnotically dense and hallucinatory in-camera superimpositions by shooting off late-night TV with color filters in multiple passes, then edited the mass of footage into a psychedelic phantasmagoria suggesting an elusive, dream-like narrative.”—Mark Toscano
“A sight/sound combine of exotic imagery shot semi-randomly in superimposition off a TV and then cut to make a fast moving but extremely ambiguous ‘story.’ Gorilla moves through modern man’s myth mind like a runaway train bursting at the seams.”—Peter Mays

6-18-67, by George Lucas (1967, 5 min, screening from DVD)
A behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of the film MacKenna's Gold (1969)

Title, by John Baldessari (1971, 16mm, b/w & color, sound, 20 min.)
Video from Electronic Arts Intermix
Baldessari progresses from simple, static images, such as a rock in an empty room, to complex narrative scenes, like a woman eavesdropping on her next-door neighbor. Through the gradual integration of cinematic techniques—motion, color, sound, acting, editing and arc—the artist inverts the traditional Hollywood model, stressing structure over narrative coherence. – Electronic Arts Intermix

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, by Jack Goldstein (1975, 16mm, color, sound, 2 min.)  
Print courtesy of Galerie Buchholz, Koln, and MOCA
“Goldstein's iconic two-minute tour de force, brings media's subliminal power to the fore," - Jordan Kantor, Artforum review
“The film represents a short performance sequence that signifies the power of MGM as the penultimate studio—in fact, as the very model for the Golden Era of Hollywood studios, which even already in 1975 belonged to a distant “then” of the past. “Going to the movies” represents a staged sequence of ordered entrances into the apparatus of cinema. “ - Fareed Armaly , from longer article on the film:

Cue Rolls, by Morgan Fisher (1974, 16mm, colour, sound, 5:30)
Print courtesy of Morgan Fisher
“Over the years Morgan Fisher has analysed nearly every aspect of the production and projection process. Cue Rolls appears to be a continuous five-and-a-half-minute shot, the visual subject of which is a synchronizer through which four strands of black and white leader are running continuously.

“As the soundtrack makes clear, Fisher has applied what once was a standard industry practice (for making colour corrections and other modifications before final prints were struck) to a situation in which it would seem to be entirely irrelevant. Specifically, a single continuous forty-foot shot of four strips of leader moving through the synchronizer was “analysed” into ten-foot segments that were subsequently A and B rolled so that the ten-foot segments could be re-synthesized into a convincing illusion of the original, uncut shot. The leader moving through the synchronizer was a plan for the negative cutter who would edit (or who, by the time we see the film, has edited) Cue Rolls.” – Scott MacDonald

Zebra Skin Clutch, by Cynthia Maughan (1977-78, 2:03, b&w)
Video from Electronic Arts Intermix

Based on Romance, by Bruce & Norman Yonemoto (1979, 24:15)
Video from Electronic Arts Intermix
This stylized narrative is the first in the Yonemotos' Soap Opera Series,in which they employ the traditional syntax and codes of melodrama to explore how mass media formulas manipulate desire and sexuality, fantasy and reality. Played out with the self-conscious acting and dialogue of a soap opera, this story of the dissolution of a contemporary romance is set in the context of the postmodern Southern California art scene. By emphasizing modes of representation — TV, movies, art — the Yonemotos reconstruct a narrative of melodrama itself, illustrating their assertion that personal dramas and romantic ideals are the result of media propaganda, a social fantasy that becomes reality.
Directors: Bruce and Norman Yonemoto. Camera/Lighting: Nikolai Ursin. Written/Produced by Bruce Yonemoto. Performers: Anastasia Hagerstrom, Michael Hickman, Wenden Baldwin, Harvey Segalove. A KYO-DAI production.

Total - 86 min.
Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980 will feature over 24 shows between October 2011 and May 2012. Alternative Projections is Filmforum’s exploration of the community of filmmakers, artists, curators and programmers who contributed to the creation and presentation of experimental film and video in Southern California in the postwar era. Film series curated by Adam Hyman and Mark Toscano, with additional contributions by David James, Christine Panushka, Jerri Allyn, Abraham Ferrer, Terry Cannon, Ben Caldwell, Stephanie Sapienza, Amy Halpern, and more.

Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980 is part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980. This unprecedented collaboration, initiated by the Getty, brings together more than sixty cultural institutions from across Southern California for six months beginning October 2011 to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

Primary funding for Alternative Projections was provided by the Getty Foundation, with additional support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. This screening series is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; and the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. Special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Additional support generously provided by American Cinematheque.

Our website at contains oral histories, articles, and a searchable database with individuals, films, organizations, and exhibitions, and archival content. This is the first database of its kind and will give scholars and the public a much richer understanding of art production in Los Angeles for years to come.  The contents of the screening series can also be found there.

Coming Soon to Los Angeles Filmforum:
Jan 18 – Alternative Projections: Psychedelic Visions and Expanded Consciousness (at Cinefamily)
Jan 21 – Alternative Projections: Los Angeles Observed (at Cinefamily)
Jan 25 & 26 – Single Wing Turquoise Bird – light show performance with live music, at UCLA EDA, part of the Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival!
Jan 28 - Alternative Projections: Visions, Memory, and a Machine (at Cinefamily)

Los Angeles Filmforum is the city's longest-running organization screening experimental and avant-garde film and video art, documentaries, and experimental animation.  2012 is our 37th year
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