The 48-Hour Film Festival’s title of Funnest Film Event has been threatened by the Pilot Television project in Chicago. Okay, so the Pilot project happened over a year ago, but there’s no reason it can’t happen again.
The current issue of The Journal of Aesthetics & Protest has an article on Pilot Television. The project is self-described as an “artist-built temporary autonomous video production studio.” Here’s how it worked: over 150 participants came together in Chicago over a weekend and turned two 3-story warehouses into a production compound. It was free, open to the public, and made up of borrowed equipment.
Sounds like a loose definition of filmmaking? Maybe. Sure, it was video, and, yes, they weren’t aiming for Sundance or the IFC, but the organizers created a model for filmmaking that might be useful elsewhere.
Pilot worked especially well because it was organized around a purpose—participants were feminist activists producing political works. These works came in the form of talk shows, historical reenactments, and some wack etc. Their work would be edited and redistributed back to the participants to be broadcast on local cable, in schools, at microcinemas, wherever. But the experiment went beyond the final product: it was also a way for activists to interact in a collective and educational way. The event was a means, not just an end.
So who cares? Activists should care because it is a new model for media reform and getting across one’s message (esp. on single issues). The collectivism in production can lead to videos which are truly local. This work can then become local tv, viral videos, etc. Meanwhile, the event serves as a free production workshop. Filmmakers should care because this is a great way to share resources and knowledge. Even if you’re not a commie, collaboration in film is nearly unavoidable. A few weekends like this one might take the place of quite a few film school classes. Does the collective have to have an agenda? You just want your stuff shot, right?