About this project
PUNK THE CAPITAL, STRAIGHT FROM WASHINGTON D.C.
When punk swept into Washington D.C. in the late 1970s, an explosive scene emerged with uncompromising attitudes and powerful new sounds. The ideas and music which grew out of that time continue to have a profound impact, resonating around the world. Filmmakers Paul Bishow and James Schneider are now pulling together their long-awaited documentary about that seminal moment: Punk the Capital, Straight from Washington D.C.
Punk the Capital takes us to the heart of why D.C. Punk has such staying power. For those who are already aware of this inspiring and influential story, Punk the Capital provides a fresh perspective and in-depth portrait of how D.C. Punk began, full of newly discovered footage and personal accounts, directed by two of D.C.'s veteran filmmakers. For those who do not know much about Washington D.C. culture or why D.C. Punk matters, this film will be a must-see.
Focusing on the period between 1976 and 1985, this documentary explores how D.C. Punk gained momentum and an affirmative, creative and constructive community emerged. At the core of the film is an artist's co-op called Madams Organ. It was a space of possibility, like punk itself, where the foundations of a remarkable scene took form. The Organ was a place where generations and musical genres mixed. It became the launching pad for the D.C. harDCore movement.
The project is born out of our love of this music, D.C. history, and our camaraderie with those who are in our film. It also is a product of the our friendship and collaborative work that began in D.C.'s Adams Morgan neighborhood over 20 years ago. It is fulfilling for us to bring our decades of experience to this hometown project, and to make a film about a subject that echoes our belief in filmmaking as a transformational art.
To explore the complexity of the period, we have conducted over 100 interviews with the key figures, collected more than 200 hours of rare archival footage, hundreds of photographs, flyers and zines. The film also features unseen Super-8 footage shot by a dozen different filmmakers. We envision this film to be a dynamic collage, drawing on a multitude of archives, past & present radio shows, concert audio and video recordings, interviews, and more.
Having collected nearly all the necessary pieces, we now need your help to put them all together and complete this film. Your contribution will help us cover the many expenses along the way, including: film lab transfers and preservation, editing, equipment rental and purchase, the final out of town interviews, sound mixing, and DVD production. Our goal amount has been calculated to cover these and other basic costs only. Reaching that goal amount will also make our work with D.C.-based charities become a reality (see "Beyond the Film" section below).
Your support to complete this vital documentary will also help to preserve and share these archives. For example, much of the collected Super-8 film is deteriorating and requires transfer to an archival format (see "Beyond the Film"). This is part of our larger effort to see this history preserved and in this regard, we have been working closely with the D.C. Public Library for the past year in establishing a D.C. Punk Archive. So your participation in this project is also about keeping this vital piece of history alive and accessable.
You can help us cross the finish line through your contribution and through your promotion of this campaign. Thank you for your support.
See below for additional info about the film and the filmmakers:
James Schneider, a D.C. native who grew up in the skate and punk scenes of the mid 1980s, has spent the last 20 years directing and producing films and music videos. His filmography includes; “Blue is Beautiful” (1997) featuring Dischord recording artists The Make-Up, “The Band that Met the Sound Beneath” (2012) featuring the Chilean punk band Panico, and “Young Oceans of Cinema” (2011) about the French avant-garde filmmaker Jean Epstein. Schneider’s award-winning work has been screened at film festivals and museums around the world. For more info: www.jamesjune.info
Paul Bishow moved to D.C. in the late 1970s and was immediately drawn to the intimacy of the punk scene, with his Super-8 camera in hand. He has since made 8 feature length movies and dozens of short films, many with D.C. Punk bands. He was a founding member of the I am Eye Film Forum and managed the legendary art-house cinema, the Biograph Theater in Georgetown. His footage has appeared in many documentaries including Don Lett’s “Punk Attitude” (2005). Paul's brother Pat Bishow is also a film director, known for the El Frenetico series and Soultangler. For more info: www.paulbishow.com
MORE ABOUT THE FILM
The eyewitness account is the guiding perspective of this story. Just as Punk the Capital co-creator Paul Bishow was there in 1979 filming the punk explosion, the key figures who witnessed and participated in the rise of D.C. Punk/harDCore are all part of our film: Alec and Ian MacKaye, Henry Rollins, Jeff Nelson, Jello Biafra, Tesco Vee, Cynthia Connolly, Joe Keithley, Tim Kerr, Sharon Cheslow, and many more. Among other important aspects discussed by these figures are the beginnings of the Straight Edge movement, Dischord Records, and the evolution of a D.C. sound that would later carry on into bands like Fugazi. We also cover the interactions between D.C. Punk and another D.C. underground genre of the time, Go-Go. Aside from the music, many other aspects of the D.C. punk community are part of our film: for example photographers and 'zine publishers from the time such as Barbara Anne Rice and her 'zine Truly Needy.
D.C. Punk did not start in 1979 with harDCore. This documentary takes us back to the earlier generation who fought to open doors in a hesitant, if not resistant, government town. It is impossible to grasp what happened in D.C. circa 1980 without fully exploring what preceded that time. These pioneers created new sounds and a Do-It-Yourself approach by starting their own labels like Dacoit, Limp, and Doodley Squat. Punk the Capital includes bands such as the Slickee Boys, White Boy, Razz, and The Urban Verbs; figures like Skip Groff, Kim Kane, Martha Hull, Don Zientara and Howard Wuelfing; DJs like Xyra Harper and Steve Lorber from the rebellious local radio station WGTB; and early DC fanzine publishers such as Mary Leary (Infiltrator).
A behind-the-scenes discussion with Ian and Alec MacKaye about Paul Bishow's apartment, and his footage from 1979.
BEYOND THE FILM
D.C. Punk Activism
In the tradition of D.C. Punk non-profit work and benefit events dating back to 1980, arrangements are being made for 3 Washington D.C. non-profits to benefit from our film. Details will be available in the next few months. These are the three non-profits:
Hungry For Music (D.C. Branch) is a charity organization that supports music education and cultural enrichment by acquiring and distributing quality musical instruments to underserved children.
Positive Force D.C. is an activist collective seeking radical social change, personal growth, and youth empowerment. They organize benefit and free concerts, art shows, film screenings, protests, and educational events while also doing direct work with people in need in Washington D.C..
Washington Peace Center is an anti-racist, grassroots, multi-issue organization working for peace, justice, and non-violent social change in the metropolitan Washington D.C. area since 1963.
Please go to the "Beyond the Film" section of our website for more information.
Your contribution will help us to preserve and share a wide range of archives. These include film, video, audio, flyers, zines, photos and other ephemera.
Of particular interest is the recently unearthed Super-8 and 16mm footage collected from various sources. Some of this footage is rapidly degrading and needs immediate attention. Among the bands appearing in the footage are : Bad Brains, Untouchables, Faith, Teen Idles, Enzymes, Slickee Boys, Government Issue, Da Chumps, Half Japanese, Razz, Holy Rollers, Kingface, Trenchmouth and more. The footage also includes scenes of daily life, such as sequences fillmed in the Madams Organ Co-op and street life in D.C. circa 1979.
D.C. Punk Archive
We have been working closely with the D.C. Public Library's Washingtoniana Division on founding a D.C. Punk Archive. We will be transferring a large amount of the material from our documentary to this new collection. This archive is part of Washingtoniana's effort to preserve and celebrate D.C.'s rich music culture (Go-Go, Jazz, Folk, Garage...). It promises to be an accessible and instructive tool for the Nation's Capital and beyond.
Thank you for taking a moment to learn about our project. We appreciate your interest in our efforts to create a lasting and in-depth document of this transformative period in music history. Your enthusiasm and willingness to spread the word will help build the momentum needed to move this project forward. THANK YOU for your support.
D.C. PUNK FILM COMMUNITY
Since we began this project circa 2000, other films on D.C. Punk have begun and we look forward to all of them. These documentaries are all quite different and we believe they will complement each other. The history of D.C. Punk is too big for one film. The unique focus of our project is on the transition from punk to harDCore in Washington, D.C., 1976 to 1985. The vast archives we have collected will contribute to the distinct perspective of this documentary, as it encapsulates the radical shift from 1970's culture into that of the 1980's.
Amongst the other films in the works are: a documentary about Positive Force D.C.; an HR (Bad Brains) documentary; an episode in a series for HBO featuring D.C.’s legendary Inner Ear Studio, directed by Dave Grohl; and Salad Days, which began in 2011, focusing on D.C. Punk of the mid-1980s.
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Check out our website for exclusive content from the film:
VERSION FRANCAISE DU CLIP (FRENCH VERSION)
SINOPSIS, VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL (SPANISH VERSION)
Washington, D.C. Punk Tour with author and activist Mark Andersen. (See reward options #13 and #15)
Risks and challenges
This project is on solid footing to be completed as planned. It is always difficult to gauge how long the editing will last, so this is our main challenge. Even with the planned next 6 months of full time editing, such a large amount of footage presents a steep mountain to climb. The success of this campaign will ensure that the film is completed in a swift time frame and will be well circulated. In terms of content, the film itself has advanced to the point where we can assure that it will reflect how it is presented above.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Do folks who back at the $40 level, for the Black Cat show, get a copy of the film too, or would that be an add-on?
Backers at the $40 level will indeed receive a digital download of the film!
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