I recently had the opportunity to scour the archives of The Film-makers' Coop. I'd dig out some film cans, thread the projector and watch. I wasn't at all prepared for the treasures found, and realizing some had not been in circulation since 1978...they demanded an audience, again.
My search was not completly unguided. That is, I wanted to find interesting uses of optical printing, and hybrid printing techniques used in "experimental/ avant garde" film. I was interested in Scott Bartlett's work from a digitized copy of OffOn (1967) that I had seen, as well as his "Making of OffOn" that Bartlett made over a decade later. Bartlett used early analog video mixing teqniques in making his 16mm film. He built body length kaleidoscopes to achieve visuals otherwise impossible by printing methods alone. Bartlett was one of the few and one of the most skilled filmmakers to hybrid film and video. To date, his work looks both contemporary, and radical. With, "Moon 69" Bartlett caught the attention of George Lucas, and thus moved into the world of big cinema effects. Sadly Bartlett died from complications due to cancer in 1990. The Film-makers' Coop have a pristine print of "OffOn". They also had a selection of his works ranging from his student project work, "Metanomen" (1966), to the very intimate "Lovemaking" (1970).
The film Offon and more review below the fold...
In watching Bartletts work, I noticed Tom Dewitt's name came up repeatedly in the credits...So I went back to the vaults. Dewitt was one of the founders of Canyon Cinema, an institution not unlike the Film-makers' Coop, based in San Francisco. Not much is known of his work as a filmmaker comparatively to Bartlett, although he has received numerous awards for his work. Tom DeWitt met Scott Bartlett after an apprenticeship with Stan Vanderbeek in 1965, and the two put together material that was to culminate in "OffOn". On his own, Dewitt contributed amazing works, that conveniently located in the Coop archive. Some of these found works had not been in circulation for decades. I immediately put them on the program. Dewitts, "The Leap"(1968) and "The Fall"(1971) are mind blowing works that defy category by blurring film, analog video, and early computer software systems. Dewitts love of optic techology has led him further into the field of Science, being named four times as the Principal Investigator for the National Science Foundation and a Fellow of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (where he designed a novel telescope...Optical exploration!).
I should state that the sound scores of these films are amazing contributions of synthetic sound. Manny Meyer scored "OffOn", and with various organized ensembles performed complex synth based compositions. This I should like to explore further, as these works are incredible in their own right. But lets save that for another blog, shall we.
The works, all 16mm, can be rented, or screened by appointment. I advise you to go, experience, and learn. Click here for further information.