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An inspiring documentary about a pioneering video collective from the 1970s, built from their own incredible archive of video tapes.

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..

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Hello friends,

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! 

THE DOCUMENTARY

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.

THE TAPES

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.

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THE REWARDS

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.

FAQ

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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    27 backers

    Thank you for helping restore the Videofreex archive! Every little bit counts! Your generosity will be acknowledged on the film's website. BACKERS AT EVERY LEVEL will receive sneak preview Videofreex clips throughout the campaign and beyond.

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  • Pledge $25 or more
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    22 backers

    You are an honorary member of the Videofreex and will receive a button to prove it! You will also receive sneak preview video clips, and thanks on our website. (see images of rewards on the left.)

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  • Pledge $35 or more
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    62 backers

    THE DVD! For your incredible generosity, we'll send you an advance DVD copy of the film when it's completed. You'll also receive the button, the sneak preview clips and thanks on our website. (see images of rewards on the left.)

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  • Pledge $50 or more
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    31 backers

    FREEX FAN PACKAGE You'll get the button, an advance DVD of the film, sneak preview clips, thanks on our website and... A COOL VIDEOFREEX TOTE BAG featuring original art by Ann Woodward of the Videofreex . (see images of rewards on the left.)

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  • Pledge $75 or more
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    2 backers Limited (8 left of 10)

    NEW REWARD! The DVD, NAM JUNE PAIK: LESSONS FROM THE VIDEO MASTER by Skip Blumberg, of the Videofreex. A touching, insightful tribute to the great video artist. (see description and image on the left.) And you'll get the FREEX FAN PACKAGE too.

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    5 backers Limited (5 left of 10)

    NEW REWARD!! You'll get a DVD of "Harold's Bar Mitzvah" - a funny, touching documentary by Bart Friedman of the Videofreex. This 40 minute, B&W video from 1977 was featured at the Museum of Modern Art and The Jewish Museum. It has never been offered on DVD, and you won't find it anywhere else! And of course you'll also get the FREEX FAN PACKAGE.

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    10 backers All gone!

    GREATEST HITS You'll get a signed DVD featuring some of the highlights from the Videofreex archive (curated by Skip Blumberg of the Videofreex)... You'll also get the Fan Package (see above) and THANKS IN THE FILM CREDITS! (see images of rewards on the left.)

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    11 backers Limited (2 left of 13)

    BOOK LOVER #2 You'll get a signed copy of the book "Videofreex: America's First Pirate TV Station and the Catskills Collective That Turned It On," written by Parry Teasdale of the Videofreex. You'll also get the Fan Package (see above) and THANKS IN THE FILM CREDITS! (see images of rewards on the left.)

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  • Pledge $100 or more
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    10 backers Limited (2 left of 12)

    BOOK LOVER #1 You'll get a signed copy of the memoir "Video Days," written by Nancy Cain of the Videofreex. You'll also get the Fan Package (see above) and... THANKS IN THE FILM CREDITS! (see images of rewards on the left.)

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  • Pledge $150 or more
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    8 backers All gone!

    SPAGHETTI EATER You'll get a signed vintage copy of "The Spaghetti City Video Manual" - the groundbreaking do-it-yourself video how-to published by the Freex in 1973. It features the original artwork of Ann Woodward. You'll also get the Fan Package and... THANKS IN THE FILM CREDITS! (see images of rewards on the left.)

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  • Pledge $250 or more
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    6 backers Limited (4 left of 10)

    ART LOVER You'll get a limited edition print from artist Mary Curtis Ratcliff of the Videofreex. You'll also the Fan Package and... THANKS IN THE FILM CREDITS! (see images of rewards on the left.)

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  • Pledge $350 or more
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    1 backer

    TAPE PRESERVATIONIST Congratulations and thank you! You are personally responsible for saving one of the tapes in the archive. You'll get a DVD copy of the raw footage that you saved. We can't tell you what it will be yet - it's a mystery until we restore it! You'll also get the Fan Package and CREDIT IN THE FILM AS A TAPE PRESERVATIONIST! (see images of rewards on the left.)

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  • Pledge $500 or more
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    3 backers Limited (7 left of 10)

    TAPE PRESERVATIONIST / VIP Congratulations and thank you! You are personally responsible for saving one of the tapes in the archive. You'll get a DVD copy of the raw footage that you saved. We can't tell you what it will be yet - it's a mystery until we restore it! You'll also get the Fan Package and... a CREDIT IN THE FILM AS A TAPE PRESERVATIONIIST! Finally, please join us (plus 1) for a private VIP screening and dinner in New York! (see images of rewards on the left.)

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  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    0 backers

    PRESERVATION ANGEL Amazing! You are personally responsible for saving 3 unique tapes. You'll get a DVD copy of the raw footage that you saved. We can't tell you what it will be yet - it's a mystery until we restore it! You'll also get the Fan Package and CREDIT IN THE FILM AS A PRESERVATION ANGEL! FInally, please come as our guest (plus 1) to our NY private VIP screening and dinner and/or our public NY premiere and party. (see images of rewards on the left.)

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  • Pledge $2,000 or more
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    0 backers

    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER No way! You are awesome! You truly are making this film happen! For that you will get a highly-coveted ASSOCIATE PRODUCER CREDIT. (And of course all the above good stuff, too!) (see images of rewards on the left.)

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Funding period

- (30 days)