About this project
NEW REWARD as of 6/20. Skip Blumberg's DVD, NAM JUNE PAIK: LESSONS FROM THE VIDEO MASTER - see the choice on the right for pledges at the $75 level and above. And see the description below..
We are the filmmakers of HERE COME THE VIDEOFREEX – an inspiring documentary about a pioneering video collective from the 1970s, built from their own incredible archive of video tapes. With the money raised from this Kickstarter campaign, we will be able to wrap production on the film and - more importantly - restore a crucial set of tapes from the Videofreex archive.
This film has been labor of love for a number of years. But the time has come for the baby to be born and we need your help!
It’s 1969. Young people are protesting in the streets, and in the offices of CBS News a young executive is frustrated. There must be a way to bring these stories of cultural and political revolution onto the television screen. But with their establishment status and bulky production model, the CBS producers cannot get inside these new movements. He has a brainstorm. He convinces his superiors to bankroll a new kind of pilot to be produced by and about young radicals, using the brand new technology of portable video. With financial support and free equipment from CBS, a colorful group comes together - the Videofreex.
On CBS’s dime, the Videofreex travel the country taping footage the networks could never get, including interviews with Abbie Hoffman and Black Panther Fred Hampton, just months before his murder. The pilot they produce proves to be decades ahead of its time. But when CBS executives see it, they fire the group and say they can keep the “worthless” equipment. Out on their own, the Freex decide to stick together. They smuggle their videotapes out of CBS offices late one night in a guitar case and move into a loft in Soho.
For the next two years, when the Anti-War, Black Power, and Women’s Movements take to the streets, the Freex are part of the action, capturing it on tape and hosting weekly screenings at their loft. But by 1971, the Freex are overloaded by NYC and in need of inspiration. The entire collective decides to leave the city and move to a sprawling farmhouse in the Catskills. At first, locals are wary of the Freex, who they see as a hippie commune. But the Videofreex win over the community when, using retrofitted video equipment, they build a transmitter and create the country’s first pirate TV station. Channel 3 Lanesville is made for and stars the local people. With news coverage, children’s programming, and call-in shows, Channel 3 is the only on-air entertainment for this valley community that gets no TV reception, and it’s hugely popular. It stays on the air throughout the 70s, becoming a model for Public Access Television, and creating a legacy of radical, homegrown media that continues to flourish today on the web.
For decades, most of the Videofreex tapes sat in attics, garages, basements, etc. And unfortunately, video is a fragile medium that degrades easily. Because the ½ inch reel-to-reel format is now defunct, restoring and transferring these tapes is neither easy nor cheap. During the last decade or so, the Videofreex have joined forces with the fantastic organization Video Data Bank - vdb.org - to organize the archive and to begin the restoration process - no simple task. When they were shooting, the Freex would often tape over old footage, and the labels are inconsistent and often misleading. This is frustrating, but it also has all the excitement and mystery of a treasure hunt. For example, we recently found an old tape labeled “Aunt Betty’s Birthday Party”. It turns out that Aunt Betty was friends with Lena Horne who gives an impromptu performance on tape!
When we decided to make the Videofreex documentary, we realized we needed the restoration to happen much more quickly so that we could utilize all of their incredible footage for the film. We’re thrilled that some of the most historically important footage has already been restored, like the interviews with Fred Hampton and Abbie Hoffman and the May Day protests. But we need more!
So that’s why our goal for this kickstarter campaign is tape restoration, as well as wrapping production. Then we’ll be ready to lock ourselves in the editing room and create the film!
PLEASE DONATE WHAT YOU CAN, OR PASS ON THE WORD THROUGH EMAIL, FACEBOOK, AND GOOD OLD-FASHIONED WORD OF MOUTH! THANK YOU!!!!!!
Stay connected to the film by liking us on Facebook!
follow us on twitter!
Check out the film's website here!
To find out more info about the archive go to Video Data Bank.
To find out more about the music of Buzzy Linhart, featured in the trailer, click here.
If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation to the film via our non-profit sponsor please contact us directly.
All donors at the 25 dollar level and above get this 'Videofreex' button. Wear it with pride!
As part of the FREEX FAN PACKAGE, donors at the 50 dollar level and above will get this awesome tote bag!! The artwork is an original design by Videofreex member Ann Woodward.
At the 75 dollar level, you can choose the DVD:
NAM JUNE PAIK: LESSONS FROM THE VIDEO MASTER, by Skip Blumberg, one of the Videofreex, reveals not only the seminal artist, but also the well loved man, and his community of video artists. It features 47 stylized and insightful interviews with Paik's friends, collaborators, curators, patrons and protegées, including art-world luminaries Merce Cunningham, Bill Viola, Beryl Korot, Shigeko Kubota, Videofreex Davidson Gigliotti and David Cort, and Paik's nephew, Ken Paik Hakuta. Plus a rare documentation of a Yoko Ono performance at the Guggenheim Museum.
Two members of the Videofreex have written about their days in the group. Either book is a reward for the 100 dollar level..
Parry Teasdale's book is a first-person history of the group...
And Nancy Cain's book is a memoir that spans her life as a media-maker during her time with the Videofreex and beyond...
In 1972, the videofreex published the SPAGHETTI CITY VIDEO MANUAL, a do-it-yourself repair guide to video equipment and production. It's illustrated by Videofreex member Ann Woodward.
Videofreex member and visual artist Mary Curtis Ratcliff is generously donating prints of 3 of her works. These are rewards for supporters at the 250 dollar level.
Five Koi 12"x24"
Danuta in Malta 13"x19"
Poplar Grove XII 15 1/2"x 25 1/2"
To find out more about Mary Curtis Ratcliff's work go to her website.
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