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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Friday, March 4, 2016
Blog posting written by Gabriella LoBue, Cinema and Photography, ’18, FLEFF Intern, Hackettstown, New Jersey.
If you combine the history of underground media pioneers, an archive of their original footage, and a team of individuals who are determined to share the story, Here Come the Videofreex (2015) would be the final product. I was able to connect with one of the directors, Jon Nealon, via the phone to discuss his latest film, which will be screened at FLEFF this year.
Here Come the Videofreex recounts the chronicles of 1960s and 70s “renegade journalists” who used handheld cameras to capture their surroundings. What began as a counterculture piece for CBS News, ended in the development of a pirate television station in Lanesville, New York. As it is said, the rest is history, and the work of the Videofreex ultimately democratized media, as it exists today.
Nealon was introduced to the topic years ago at the Woodstock Film Festival during a conversation with an actual Videofreex member. After seeing archived tapes that were already available for viewing, Nealon’s interest grew, and the film production was eventually set in motion. An extensive and expensive retrieval, refurbishing, and editing process soon followed.
Here Come the Videofreex’s notable use of archival footage was also one of its biggest production challenges and risks. Not only was the restoration of the original tapes costly, but there was also no guarantee that all or any of the footage would be usable for the documentary. Fortunately, the tapes did contain valuable footage, including interviews with iconic activists such as Fred Hampton and Abbie Hoffman. Funding from Kickstarter made this vital restoration process possible.
Nealon admits that there were periods of doubt and questioning in the years that it took to make this film, but found working with archival footage to be an overall rewarding experience. In fact, despite the dubious nature of making a feature film that relies so heavily on original tapes, Nealon would do it again.
As a 1993 Ithaca College alum, Nealon will be returning to Ithaca to participate in the screening and discussion of Here Come the Videofreex. The film can appeal to most audiences, but Nealon particularly urges young filmmakers to attend. It is truly an inspiring story of young media makers finding their way and following their own path, ultimately leading to a revolutionary effort.
A collection of episodes from Lanesville TV can be viewed and purchased online at Video Data Bank.