Letter to the members and supporters of Canyon Cinema from the Board of Directors

Posted August 21st, 2012 in Announcements, News / Events

Letter to the members and supporters of Canyon Cinema from the Board of Directors–San Franciso, CA – August 21, 2012

As noted in our previous letter to the membership, the Canyon Cinema Board of Directors and staff were concerned about our future and publicly reached out for support. We are pleased to report that the Board has turned things around on a variety of fronts and we have a bit more optimism about the future to share with you. The key highlights include donations in support of Canyon, our success in gaining non-profit status in the State of California, the relocation of our office to a more affordable space, as well as a change and re-organization of the administrative staff.

The New York Times article from February 2012 was instrumental in calling attention to Canyon’s needs and situation, resulting in a generous outpouring of support from members, foundations, concerned individuals, organizations and universities. We are very appreciative of this support and also appreciative of our fiscal sponsor, NAMAC (National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture). Some of the connections we made will be especially helpful once we are able to obtain non-profit status. These incredible gifts have been a huge help in sustaining Canyon in recent months, and into the near future. Here is a link to the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/18/movies/canyon-cinema-filmmakers-cooperative-sees-grim-future.html?_r=1&ref=arts

Scott MacDonald has initiated a critically important new program for supporting Canyon Cinema: The Annual Institutional Access Fee. This fee of one thousand dollars per year will cover a portion of the basic costs of running Canyon Cinema, saving it from demise. Institutions that participate are guaranteed priority handling of their rental and sales requests as well as priority access to film prints. Through Scott’s efforts, our film studies colleagues at Hamilton College, Colgate University, USC, the Harvard Film Archive, CalArts, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wellesley College, Mount Holyoke College, University of Chicago, University of Colorado, Yale University, Southern Illinois University, Indiana University, the National Gallery of Art, Bard College, and the Pacific Film Archive (UC—Berkeley) have signed on, along with several individuals. If you are interested in participating please contact the Canyon office. http://canyoncinema.com/about/funders/

As stated in the New York Times article, Canyon had been struggling with issues pertaining to gaining non-profit status. Non-profit status would allow us to continue supporting our filmmakers via distribution, but would open up new avenues for collaborating with educational, archival, institutional and public organizations for the marketing and access to our films. Most importantly, non-profit status will help us in terms of the taxes we pay at the state, county and federal level. San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to run a business in the United States because of tax laws. The taxes Canyon Cinema pays are simply no longer sustainable. We are the only experimental distributor that is a “for-profit” corporation and part of why we are struggling financially is because of this. Filmmakers Co-op, Women Make Movies, EAI, VDB, CFMDC, Lightcone – all are non-profit. The Board has started the process by obtaining non-profit status in the state of California as of June 2012. http://canyonfoundation.org is our temporary website. The board will be making an announcement in the near future about Federal non-profit status that will require a vote from the membership that we will detail in a separate correspondence.

Another agenda item that has come to fruition was to expand our notion of distribution to include digital streaming; we explored a variety of venues. We are pleased to report that Fandor.com is now featuring Canyon Cinema filmmakers on a pay-per-view arrangement. MUBI.com is in the process of setting up similar streaming pay-per-view account with Canyon Cinema members. Filmmakers with digital content already available through Canyon were considered for a trial run based on their interest, and it seems to be garnering some success – particularly for marketing purposes. We invite you to participate in this online distribution effort if your films are currently in distribution at Canyon Cinema. Please send in your work for distribution on DVD with a letter expressing your interest, and we will notify you when the second set of participant uploads is initiated.

In July 2011, Canyon Cinema moved to a new location in the historic Yosemite Place building in the Bayview district of San Francisco. Thanks to Charles and Helene Wright who donated funds to assist with the move, we are now in a new facility that is away from the skyrocketing rents of the South of Market area and gives us more space for our growing collection of films in distribution.

Part of the Board’s strategic planning process involves the restructuring of the Canyon Cinema office operations via an extensive evaluation of the administrative, practical, and financial processes. This is an on-going project slated to be complete this fall. Our dedicated staff continues to successfully run the daily operations of the office. As many of you may have heard, Dominic Angerame, executive director of Canyon for nearly three decades, is no longer working with us. Denah Johnston will serve on an interim basis as the Director of Operations, joining the amazing Linda Scobie, who has been with Canyon now for nearly two years. They will be supported by a consulting accountant that will provide critical insight into re-structuring Canyon’s financial budget.

Some quick information about each of our wonderful staff, by way of re-introduction:

Denah Johnston has been involved in film, interdisciplinary and media arts for over 10 years. Besides curating film screenings internationally and in the U.S. for six years, she also worked in distribution at Frameline for 3 years, and has extensive experience in various realms of academic, festival and museum screenings and programming. Her book No Future Now: A Nomadology of Resistance and Subversion was published by Atropos Press in May 2012. Contributing a chapter about No Wave Filmmaker Vivienne Dick in the forthcoming critical anthology Downtown Film, Video and Television 1975-2000 (Intellect Press, UK) she is currently working on a volume of essays about women directors. A persistent advocate of film, she is dedicated to serving at such a critical time in the continuing evolution of Canyon Cinema. Denah received her PhD in Media Philosophy: Film & Theory from the European Graduate School, an MFA in Filmmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BFA in Photography with a Film Studies Minor from Ohio University. In her own work, she employs optical printing and hand development, leaving a certain degree of her process to chance operations. Currently Johnston is exploring various methods of re-photography, sound construction and manipulation in her new works with found footage source materials. Influenced by Stan Brakhage, Maya Deren, Ingmar Bergman, George Kuchar and the writings of William S. Burroughs, she has most recently screened films in Berlin, Boston, Sydney, Chicago, Malaysia and St. Petersburg, Russia.

Linda Scobie is a film artist and curator in the Bay Area’s experimental filmmaking scene. She has volunteered with organizations such as Artist Television Access, Other Cinema, and the San Francisco Cinematheque. She is Canyon’s print traffic controller and film inspector. Her work has been exhibited at the Exploratorium, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Antimatter Film Festival and the Black Maria receiving a Jury’s Citation Award. Since taking over the Film Traffic position at Canyon in 2010, Linda has been an incredible asset to the organization, with her tireless devotion and remarkable dependability, and has played a very large role in holding Canyon Cinema together.

We would also like to acknowledge the passing of the remarkable London-based filmmaker Stephen Dwoskin, a longtime member of Canyon, co-founder of the London Film-makers’ Co-op, and a brilliant filmmaker.

In closing, the board would like to earnestly invite any members who may have questions, suggestions, comments, concerns, to please feel free to contact the board at any time via email:  board(at)canyoncinema.com





The Board of Directors, Canyon Cinema:

Maïa C. Carpenter, President
Nathaniel Dorsky, Vice President
Denah Johnston, Secretary
Dana Plays, Treasurer
Mark Toscano