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Reactions to The Brig


My very personal version of The Brig
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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I had two... I had three cameras actually, so that they were always ready, I had Louis Brigante and Ed Emshwiller to load the cameras and I did it non-stop, just a change of camera. And what I did, what, it was a little bit intentional also, though they thought it was accidental, but I knew that I will be, since I don't know what's coming, since I don't know where each of the actors will be going next, I was very often disrupting, I was in their way and they had to immediately, to re-think and improvise within there because I was constantly where I should not be, but where I was interested they had to go, but I'm there in front of them, shooting close-up their face, or whatever. So, that added to the reality and intensity of the... and it was not filming the production, not filming the play, but it was like filming my reactions to it. So, it was a completely like different thing, so when... and since I had everything on film, in real time, I developed the next day, and like 24 hours later at the Bridge Theatre, I invited Julian and Melina and the cast, here it is, take a look. And that was 24 hours later. And Andy heard about it and he came. Andy was there, too. And of course, you know, it was... it changed the lives of... and work of, for Andy was totally taken by it, really you can do that, and with the camera with sound. I considered that was my negative contribution to Andy's work because, I think, what is really work was in cinema was the silent films. And now he wanted, he immediately, his next reel was already sound. He had to do it. He, it was, that was my negative influence. But it worked very well and Melina said, yes, but, oh yes, they saw as is, as was then I thought there was too much of melodrama, there were also periods when they were, it was nonsense, sort of melodramatic nonsense, it's between the action. So, from the two hours I reduced, I put my brother to eliminate all the melodrama, I reduced it to 63 minutes and it became very intense - just noise and violence and activity they're going. So, then I showed it again to the... to Judith and Julian. 'No, no! No, this is not our play! This is... no, you have to, you have to re-shoot it! You have to add...' I said, no, this is how it will be.

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: The Bridge Theatre, Louis Brigante, Ed Emshwiller, Andy Warhol, Julian Beck, Judith Malina

Duration: 3 minutes, 45 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010