Posted March 31st, 2011 in Announcements, News / Events
Please read this letter from Dominic Angerame regarding the future of Canyon Cinema.
To download a PDF of this message, click here.
[…] Canyon Cinema, Major Distrib Of Experimental Film, Sends Up SOS […]
[…] was disheartened — but not surprised — this morning to read an open letter from Canyon Cinema Executive Director Dominic Angerame, in which he paints a fairly dire picture of the filmmaker collective’s immediate future. To […]
[…] from the Filmmakers Coop, who were threatened with eviction. Canyon labeled their plea an “Important Message To The Film Community” and starting with the the sentence, “This is a very serious letter.” And it is […]
[…] ler aquí a carta completa de Dominic Angerame, Director Executivo de Canyon Cinema. Tags: Canyon Cinema, […]
This is very discouraging news. I appreciate that issues are complex, and that even a longish letter cannot fully outline them all. I have a few thoughts in response, which I ordinarily wouldn’t presume to share. But since you are formally asking (and I because I care deeply about your organization surviving) here goes. There’s some “tough love” below, but I hope this serves to deepen the conversation somehow.
1) It seems like you’re paying way too much in rent. $2000 a month? Why store films in high priced Bay Area real estate? On this face of it, an experimental film place paying this much in rent is just plain ludicrous. I know a guy who runs a major production company that grossed $18 million last year and he runs it out of his living room to save cash. Times are tough all around! I realize that you probably need some climate control, security, and fire safety, but I have to say something just sounds deeply wrong about this to me. If you’re bent on staying in California, how about downtown LA? There’s a ton of support for art and film here. (We even have fixed gear bicycles and microbrewed beer now too.)
2) It sounds like you’re slightly overstating the costs of starting a nonprofit. Again, I personally know of lots of organizations that have done it recently. Usually the big issues have to do with turning power over to the Board, which in your case does not seem like an issue. Neither do the personal income limits that nonprofit status imposes. I understand that the easiest way to do this would be do dissolve the old company and start over. From your letter, that almost seems like a necessity at this point, as painful and time-consuming as it is. I also just don’t buy the idea that being nonprofit doesn’t help with fundraising. This is a major criterion for the major funding organizations, e.g. the Warhol Foundation. Sorry, but the Bay Area “significant non-profits” you’re talking to sound like the wrong people. Maybe it’s time to stop thinking so regionally; Canyon is of genuine national importance, and your grant applications should reflect that.
3) Digital is obviously the future. There can be no real debate on this. Projectors are increasingly difficult to maintain and repair. Shoot, I threw an almost perfectly good one in the trash three years ago because I couldn’t find one replacement part. So please do not found your business on the religious expectation that somehow 16mm will be around forever and ever. I have to say that “faith in the eventual value of celluloid projection” sounds like some kind of mystical crusade. I hope your grant applications don’t include this kind of language! And I say this as a serious film lover, and major fan of you guys. High quality 24p video is not the devil. Can we please all get over this? Because the long term outlook for celluloid is bleak, the main reason to wait on digital is that the price of high quality HD video transfers just continues to plummet. Every year it’s cheaper. At some point, though, you just have to starting doing it. The only question should be “when,” not “if.” I would bet that you could write very impressive grant applications to get funds to digitize the major classics of your catalog. This has to be part of the program for the future of Canyon.
I hope this helps,
[…] Schlechte Nachrichten aus den USA: Canyon Cinema, einer der wichtigsten Vertriebe für Experimentarfilme, ist in wirtschaftlichen Schwierigkeiten. Die Organisation, die als Kooperative für die vertretenen Filmemacher arbeitet, verwaltet einen Fundus von 3.500 titeln, die bis in die 30er Jahre zurückreichen. Enstanden ist sie Anfang der 60ger Jahre im Wohnhaus ihres Gründers Bruce Baillie in Canyon, USA. Jetzt hat ihr Geschäftsführer Dominic Angerame die Alarmglocken geläutet. […]
[…] note: I suppose if you’re seeing this, you already know of the letter sent around by Canyon Cinema, which is where ASoF is getting the print of Line from. Help them out […]
May I suggest to either collaborate or seek advice from University film departments and or other archiving institutions. UCLA Film & Television Archive for one, may be of some help.
Perhaps check into other local universities and colleges such as Berkley and USF, SFSU and any other educational institutions with a strong film/film history program. GOOD LUCK!
R. Crumb once famously said (one of his characters said) “Life goes on and things change” When Canyon Cinema was born it filled a vitally important niche. That niche has changed if not vanished. Perhaps the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences in Hollywood could afford to archive Canyon Cinema’s library. Robert Crumb also famously predicted in one his strips that “in the future, old stuff will be ground up and made into new stuff.”
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