Film seems to have been in my blood at an early age. I was part of the Young Filmmakers when it started at the Mosholu Community Center in the Bronx and later when it moved down to the lower east side. What year it was exactly, I’m not sure, maybe ’64 – but the idea was that teens had a chance to make 16mm films, and then bring them around the city where they were shown at night from the top of a VW bus.
A while back (without me knowing about it) the Young Filmmakers were “Rediscovered” and a documentary was shown about them. Now I wonder if I was in it. I swear I recognize the guy in the article about the program. My mother was close friends with Rodger (or is it Roger I dunno) and one of the last things she and I did before she passed on was to write a musical score for a film that was made about an elderly artist living in the Bronx.
We had a projector setup in the living room which I’d operate and my mom would write themes for various parts of the film which I now remember was called Adele. When my mother died, my family asked me if I could write down the notes from one of these themes on a piece of score paper so that it could be engraved on her tombstone. I remember hoping that I would get it right, since it would be on the stone for a very long time.
I sat in the cemetery director’s office at a round table with a bit of paper on which I drew a musical staff and wrote the first 7 notes of the score which was called Adele’s theme (from the film’s name), and which are now on her gravestone.
As far as my own film’s go: the first one was to the tune of Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out (which my cousin Danny K. played and sang) – this is decades before Clapton; and the plot was simply showing a guy (my friend George) playing the guy who has it all; and then my father playing the down-and-out guy who lies down in the gutter near Woodlawn Cemetery, because as I remember it George didn’t want to get his clothes dirty because his mother would be angry. While he’s rich, he takes a girl (Laurie?) from the filmmaker project into what to me seemed like a “mighty fine time” – to a small deli on Jerome Avenue. I was hurt when the owners expected me to pay for the hotdogs since I think I imagined myself as Cecil B. DeMille and tried to persuade him about the publicity he was going to get and that I had shot the outside of his store for this very purpose, but no dice. He wanted his money.
Eventually the movie ended up with a bunch of other teen movies on Channel 13. I still have the footage in the closet.
Then moved down to the new center – was it Henry street? Not sure. But I began making an animation film with chessboard pieces moving to the Dylan song Only A Pawn In The Game the idea being to intersperse the moving pieces with stuff from the newspapers… I never did finish that. Got bored, and probably just as well. But I continued for one or two summers go go around with the group and run the projector from the van.
How old was I during this time? I’d say between 13 and 15. And I think that my photography stuff also must have began at the Mosholu Center because I definitely remember using the darkroom there before setting up my own at home.