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Making Guns of the Trees


The dangers of having a friend on the set
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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Guns of the Trees, you know, a series of sketches, and then I, I really wanted to be those sketches very much improvised. And since I liked Shadows, I got Ben Carruthers to be in the film I thought that will help me to do what I want and his girlfriend was, became the next, his wife in the film and... the one mistake I made that I permitted Edouard de Laurot, was a good friend, to stick around during the shooting. He insisted, he was a very insistent, powerful, willful person, to stick around and he could not just watch. He had to, to, to always step and at time I'm ready or ready to shoot to film a scene and have set, he comes and tells the actors completely, my cast, something else that one, should, should like Politruks in the Soviet Army; he has to indoctrinate them, and... affected.... destroyed a good number, I think maybe one quarter of the scenes that way until I really had, I could not take that any more and I said stay out, you know, that's it, this is, I cannot work that way, and he of course stayed out.

Jonas Mekas (1922-2019), Lithuanian-born poet, philosopher and film-maker, set up film collectives, the Anthology Film Archive, published filmzines and made hundreds of films, all contributing to his title as 'the godfather of American avant-garde cinema'. He emigrated to America after escaping from a forced labour camp in Germany in 1945.

Listeners: Amy Taubin

Amy Taubin is a contributing editor for "Film Comment" magazine and "Sight and Sound" magazine. Her book, "Taxi Driver", was published in 2000 in the British Film Institute's Film Classics series. Her chapter on "America: The Modern Era" is part of "The Critics Choice" published by Billboard Press, 2001, and her critical essays are included in many anthologies, mostly recently in "Frank Films: The Film and Video Work of Robert Frank" published by Scalo.

She wrote for "The Village Voice" weekly from 1987 into 2001 both as a film and a television critic. She also wrote a column for the "Village Voice" titled "Art and Industry" which covered American independent filmmaking. Her first weekly film criticism job was at the "SoHo Weekly News". Her writing has also appeared in "Art Forum", the "New York Times", the "New York Daily News", the "LA Weekly", "Millennium Film Journal", "US Harpers Bazaar" and many other magazines. She is a member of the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Online.

She started her professional life as an actress, appearing most notably on Broadway in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie", and in avant-garde films, among them Michael Snow's "Wavelength", Andy Warhol's "Couch", and Jonas Mekas' "Diaries, Notebooks and Sketches".

Her own avant-garde film, "In the Bag" (1981) is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Friends of Young Cinema Archives in Berlin.

She was the video and film curator of "The Kitchen" from 1983-1987.

She has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from N.Y.U. in cinema studies. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts in both the undergraduate and the MFA graduate programs, and lectures frequently at museums, media centers, and academic institutions. In 2003, she received the School of Visual Arts' art historian teaching award.

Tags: Guns of the Trees, Ben Carruthers, Edouard de Larot

Duration: 2 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008