EXPLODING QUESTIONS AND QUERIES


What is the main reason for the existence of the 'Exploding Cinema' coalition?

We give a little bit of a description about this on our site - the main problems that we found/find is that exhibition spaces for experimental work seemed pretty much institutionally controlled and also antithetical in their exhibition practice.

How so?

Well.... for example: THE place in London for experimental film at the time was the London Filmmakers' Co-op, but it seemed to have lost its collective ideals of 20 years previously and now seemed rife with nepotism, self-interest and a distinctly 'insider' policy in their programming. Moreover, rather than having a broad approach to alternative film practice (i.e. in the spirit of the underground) it was subject to a particularly arrid notion of 'high art' - it saw experimental work as necessarily theory based and 'difficult'. Audiences for such shows were minimal, the atmosphere was akin to a particularly oppressive church, the work was invariably funded (and strangely arrogant in its presumption of the work the audience was 'expected' to do) , the experience was overall disappointing... This was pretty much our experience where'er we went for alternative film screenings - the heavy reverence of structural film making was still in the air etc. And yet s-o-o-o many people were making films of a non-commercial bent, forging new ways of expression etc. and yet they didn't fit in to anyone's 'screening policy'. The Exploding Cinema was set up as a totally open-access initiative - we have no selection, no censorship ('No stars, no funding, no taste' is one of our mottoes) - we show what we're given and let audiences make up their mind. We also make sure that we show 15-20 short films, videos related performances at each show, that there's drink (and often food) available. An m.c. (= one of us, we take it in turns - as we do with all of the jobs) presents the films, the makers are encouraged to answer questions if they feel like it. Slides and loops are projected around the space in a visual phantasmagoria. Entrance price is as low as we can keep it. We all work voluntarily, and many of the group are also film video makers. The Exploding Cinema was set up as a celebration of the diversity of the moving image (particularly at the low/no-budget end of the spectrum), and continues to function in this way.

Who do you want to reach? Only artists or also a certain audience?

As diverse an audience as possible. What interests me, is in wich way do the artists get involved in the shows that you put togheter.

Do you use certain themes when (and if) you make a selection of the material that you are going to show?

Well, there's a group of us who are always around and put on the shows: i.e. do publicity, sort out operate the equipment, make all the slides loops that are projected all about etc. etc. The films performances that we show, though, are obtained through open submission and so this provides the 'content' of the shows (we don't select them, the only limitation being time - we find it hard to screen work over 20 mins just due to logistics). Also, film video makers installation folk approach us and may do a free-standing piece at a show as a one-off. Because we don't curate the shows we can't theme them in terms of the work that we're showing, but we have themed them occasionally in relation to the time of year (Spring!) or notable historical date, or current social/political event (e.g. election). We even had a show based around an imaginary free state and cargo cult a while back. This theming happens kind of infrequently though.

Do you use 'new media'?

Well, we video project (if that counts!) - and have been involved with a web broadcast initiative that occurred outside the ordinary run of the shows. But generally - because we're having to set up a show just for the night and then pack up again at the end - we haven't used computer based sytems. There's some interest by group members in maybe heading a little more in this direction, but we find that there's usually enough to contend with running the projected moving image bit! Besides, we are the Exploding CINEMA ....

Is there always an evaluation after the shows?

We have regular meetings to organise shows and deal with related matters. At the first one after the show we each in turn give our input about how we feel the show went and discuss it - how it can be improved etc. Everyone has equal say.

Does your screening venue have a certain purpose?

We've played at a whole host of venues (including disused factories, church halls, clubs, pubs, empty swimming pools and a circus tent) - it's often a combination of what we can find/what we're offered/ what works. Because of the nature of our events we can fit around many different kinds of spaces, but what we always DO require is: electricity, a good blackout (i.e. no big windows that can't be covered!), seating of some kind, a decent projection throw for the main screen. The rest of the stuff we can bring in. But at the moment the venue we're at is particularly amenable - it's near where most of us live (oh yes, that's another thing - most of us are South London based and the Exploding Cinema has tended to base itself here because this part of London has traditionally been under-resourced when it comes to art culture intiatives) - has capacity for 200 (last few shows have averaged about 140-170, which is pretty decent). It's a late 60's/early 70's working men's club ballroom - tiered (and easily movable) seating, small stage, great sight lines and .... NO WINDOWS!! (a blessing). They run the bar (at below pub prices), and we're allowed access in the day to start setting up. Everyone seems to like this space (audience group members alike) - which is a novelty! Now my most important question (for me), can you tell me if your interactive way of working with the audience (where the audience decides what is good or bad and a dialogue exists between filmmmaker and audience), if this working method has been productive or constructive so far. Well, I reckon it has been very constructive with a few inbuilt limitations. Our audiences are left to make up their own mind whether something is enjoyable or not. We don't espouse favourites or opinions - of course we have films that we prefer on the night, but believe that our individual opinions are no more valid than any other person's. We don't have a vote on what people have enjoyed, and we accord the same respect to all things that we show. Also: REMEMBER - an audience is not a monolithic identity - it's not an IT with an aggregate opinion. An audience is made up of many different people, with many different opinions, histories and cultural inscriptions. So we as the people that put on the show are part of the audience. The people who come along to the shows seem to enjoy the lack of pre-selection - it induces a greater element of chance, a possibility of the utmost variety. Of course this can sometimes mean that shows can be a bit patchy, but it also gives the filmmakers the chance to see whether what they're making 'works' with audiences. Also ... many curated shows I've gone to over the years have been of a pretty appalling quality.

(More questions and answers will be added soon.)