OK so I think it’s finally BIG EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT time for this new project that a few of you know much about but most of you don’t – we are in the process of starting an artist-run collective motion-picture FILM LAB in Oakland!!! This is something that has been in the works since the early part of this year but as I knew this would be a major undertaking with a lot of groundwork to do first I’d been holding my tongue about it until now. Two days ago we finally began moving in gear to the basement of this big beautiful building in the picture and with the first Steenbeck flatbed in place I feel a cornerstone has been laid and it’s now time to go public!
For those not already familiar with it, at 4799 Shattuck Ave (in what was originally built in the 30’s as a Genovese garbage worker’s union clubhouse known as the Ligure Club) a major confluence of energy is coming together to build a multi-purpose community center as a “collective of collectives” known as the Omni Oakland Collective. Along with our Black Hole Collective Lab (a working title, subject to change) the space also houses/will house a collectively run photography darkroom, printing presses/publishing companies, cafe/bookshop, free school, hacker space, library, a dance/performance collective and much much more! It’s an exciting moment and we are proud to be a part of it.
I was originally approached quite a while back when talks first began about the potential space with the idea of bringing Black Hole Cinematheque in as a collective entity to curate screenings in the space (which will also be a regular fixture once we are open to the public!) but quickly began to think beyond this to conversations I had been having around that time with Richard Tuohy, Nicolas Rey, Kevin Rice and several others in the small film labs movement. I began to see a potential to concretely work towards addressing locally what I feel is a growing concern in many international film communities – the need for artists to collectively reclaim the tools of production from the wheezing behemoth of a capitalist industry that continually endangers the future of our work. The goal then expanded towards forming a resource center wherein one can potentially see a work through all the necessary stages of creation, production and exhibition and to do so in a community environment that encourages and enables one to make work that finds its forms and ideological function far outside of the inherent compromises of commercial industry. So this, my friends, is what we are up to…
We are currently at work dedicating areas of the spacious basement into a lab with a “wet” side to house equipment such as processors, printers, etc., a “dry” area to be set up for production and editing and upstairs in the grand ballroom which has seating potential in the hundreds we will host our screenings.
The collective is still in its infancy and we have been operating with a necessarily small crew up until now while we have been working through some of the more boring logistical side of securing the space/gathering equipment, but as the project is now moving towards actualization we are opening it up and welcome your input and energy! I have even kept this under wraps from much of my filmmaking community up until the ball has begun really rolling so if you haven’t heard of it from me yet, do not feel left out! if you want to get in on what is still the bottom floor now is the time! get in touch! we need and want you!
In the following weeks we are focusing on the functional workings of things such as moving gear in, wall construction, plumbing, ventilation, etc. We will also be working out logistics like varying payment models to keep the ship afloat as more passengers come aboard, and other such projections into the future.
The pooling of/search for gear has been a steady process and we are gathering together a nice amount of it already but still in search of some crucial parts. Production/editing/exhibition gear is being donated by members already but we are also opening the gates and asking for anything you might want to bring in to donate/sell at a reasonable price to us. At this point we welcome contributions of any gear as long as it is analog filmmaking/lab equipment (no digital) we’d love to take a look at it.
Printers and processors and other lab gear is the larger hurtle at the moment that we are chiseling away at bit by bit. We have an optical printer and a contact printer dedicated to the cause and are looking at the potential purchase of a black and white processor but welcome ANY HELP in the direction of gear that could further the project. We are even willing to travel or pay for shipping if the gear is far away and crucial enough. Now is a time to rally the troops!
We are looking forward to a lot of work ahead of us but we are in it for the long haul to change the shape of things around here. Many more updates about this project will follow as we continue to grow. On the horizon as well will surely be many benefit screenings and forms of fundraising for those that would like to show support in that way. we welcome your input and help in any way. Looking forward, Looking forward!