10.0E Continental Touring - 1993-1998

Tours have come about in two ways. By making contact with similar groups abroad such as the Chaos Film Gruppen from Germany or by collective members moving abroad and starting up groups or running venues. This has happened in Prague, Belgium and New York.

The touring shows have been a different format to the regular shows in that they were not entirely open access programming. Although they may have included films made by people from the place visited it is more likely that such films are brought back and shown in London. The films are often a selection of current favourites that the collective has copies of or can get hold of easily, along with works by the collective. However the selection would have included any film submitted for showing in the period preceding the tour.

There may also be less decor due to the limitations of the amount of equipment that can be comfortably be transported.

The usual multi-page A6 programme was not usually produced although some sort of simpler programme was usually made up. Only a part of the collective went on such trips and they would probably have had to pay most if not all of their own expenses.

 

1.Berlin, May 1993.  The first recorded show abroad was in Berlin sometime between 16th and 23rd May 1993. According to Paul Tarrago 'Suzanne Currid went on her own and brought back some films which she showed at The Grace Theatre Battersea'.[1] This Berlin show lost money due to bad publicity by the venue and it was agreed to only do such shows in the future if there is a guaranteed ú150 to cover costs.[2]

 

2. Dublin, 11th September 1993. Organised by Donal Ruane. The venue was a disused building on a Quayside of the docks.[3] This was the first group visit abroad but no detailed report was found.

 

3. German Tour, December 1994.  A tour of Northern Germany with the FILMGRUPPE CHAOS from Kiel. ˝This was the first contact with Karsten, he was living in Deptford and came to an Exploding show. A whole mob went in 2 shifts. As I remember it was me, Colette, Caroline, Jenet, Danny Holman, Lepke B, Mick Farrelly, Mark Pawson, Rob Stanley, Andy Lowe, Anthony Kopieki and Les (a friend of Ron Briefl's).ţ (Duncan Reekie)[4]

 

4. Show in San Francisco, 8th April 1995. An early collective member Danny Holman had gone over to visit his brother and had been to a film show in one of the many Micro Cinemas on the West Coast. These are little independent cinemas in spaces that take maybe thirty to one hundred people. He'd been impressed by the two people who ran it, Rebecca Barton and David Sherman, who went by the name of Total Mobile Home. They had a cinema in the basement of their home and were interested in doing exchanges of work. Naturally Danny thought of his old friends in Exploding. Jenet and Paul from Exploding already wanted to make a trip to San Francisco on the way to a holiday in Mexico. So they put together a package of films and made up some flyers:[5]

It was really pretty scary because we had to go through customsâ Because we were wearing our Exploding Cinema badges and they are going; 'What's that?' and we were saying; 'Oh it's the film group that we are part of'. And they are going; 'I hope you're not going to be doing any shows whilst you are in America'. And we were going; 'Oh no', and our bags were just kind of crammed full of films and flyers advertising the date and what the entrance charge was and all the rest. Anyway they didn't' look through our bags thankfully even though they kept X-raying them. (PT)

The Total Mobile Home show wasn't in the cellar of their house after all. It was in an artists' studio called the Victoria Rooms and there were about fifty people in the audience. It seems that it is easy to get such audiences in San Francisco.

The show was packed quite tightly and it went really well. There was an incredibly good positive feedback and the great thing about San Francisco is that it's easy to do publicity very, quickly because you can actually put fly posters on lampposts and just hand out stuff to people. Lots of people use an Internet connection to see what's happening that week so you put the information there. We were there about five days ahead of time and loads of people came along. (PT)[6]

Since then Jennet and Paul have returned to America (see below).

 

5. Tour of Benelux with Kino Trotter (Brussels), 1st to 16th December 1995.

The tour encompassed a hectic schedule, which took in ten or eleven shows in two weeks, travelling to Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Holland. It was considered a great success but made no money.[7] The collective members who went included Silvie, Duncan, Colette, Caroline, James, Duncan and Arthur Lager.[8] Old Exploding Cinema collective member Katia Rossini, her partner Gwen and Karsten, of Chaos Filmgruppen, had put their contacts together to organise it. Colette took her first car a rusty Cavalier, Silvie had another car and the rest went in Katia's green VW Transporter. I asked Colette what was the most memorable gig out of the eleven.

Brussels was great, I don't even remember where we were in Brussels, we just arrived at a certain place. You know, just mad finding where the venue isâ It was quite a cavernous venue, it was great, and it was filled with people who went absolutely berserk for it, they loved it. It was just a big party, party-time kind of thing, and it really made us realise how much of an impact Exploding Cinema had made on the continent, you know. (CR)

The show may have been helped by the German tour of the previous year, which had got the film network in NorthWest Europe talking. These shows used the full Exploding Cinema environment with loops and slides onto sheets. I asked Colette what were the venues were like:

The best one we loved was in Ghent. That was fantastic, that was called 'Demo Crazy'â Demo Crazy was like a classic venueâ It was like an old movie theatre that once upon a time had been a playhouse or a theatre. So they all had balconies that you could look down from and so it was great for us to do projection, because you could put your projectors up there and bend the images across, these huge expanses, so you get really large projections. (CR)

Another memorable venue was the 'Freeze House America' in Amsterdam, which is down by the harbour. It was a series of bunkers in a cold storage building. There was a skateboarding rink on the bottom and then a Go-Karting loop on the first floor. The Exploding show was on the second floor in a fog of dry ice. The smallest gig was in Niemegen, in an empty shop, which had been stripped out and covered with white parachute fabric, which was perfect for projecting onto.

 

6. Prague, 26th January 1997. A report on the Prague show was published in the programme of the next Exploding show after their return. I quote in full to give the full flavour of Exploding's prose style.

In January Colette 'Cat Woman' Rouhier, Jenet 'Five Bottle' Thomas and Duncan 'Branch Davidian' Reekie took the Exploding cinema show to Prague, Gothic capital of the Czech republic. We arrived at twilight as the last rays of the sun sparkled on the black slush. The show was set up by Exploding ┌migr┌ veteran Danny Holman and was staged at the Roxy, Prague's top underground hot spot, an old cinema with a weathered plaster interior which makes it look like a nightclub in a vast cave. The programme included the Czech premiere of 'Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!' about 20 British films and a few local works. The audience was around 300 and the beer was delicious. The reaction to our incoherent spectacle was most pleasing and hopefully we planted a tiny sapling of DIY Cinema that will grow a twisted yew of no-budget media.[9]

 

7. New York and Athens, Georgia USA, 20th and 26th July 1997. Jenet and Paul took a selection of work to show in New York. The New York show was set up by Jane Gang of the Pink Pony Club, which operates on a sort of exchange basis with Exploding Cinema. The club is in a theatre screening space on the Lower East Side of New York. Jane Gang (aka Higgins) had showed her work regularly in Exploding shows and had then moved to New York to set up her own Micro Cinema.[10] Jane took part in the Volcano festivals. Paul Tarrago tells of a further show in Athens, Georgia.

When we went to New York last time we also did a small show in Georgia, in Athens, that was a very small show and a couple of filmmakers gave us their films to bring back which we've shown a couple of times since and they are very good. I've got copies of my films now on NTSC because it's easier for me to show in North America sometimes than it is to show in this country or Europe. It's really hard to find places to show in Europe. (PT)[11]

 

8. German Tour, Frankfurt and Cologne, 4th & 5th April 1998.  This was a two-day trip to G. Werk-Ost in Frankfurt and Gebaud-9 in Cologne set up by Thomas Zagrosek and Karsten Weber from Chaos Film Group. Transport was provided by Colette's Ford Cortina estate. The personnel were Duncan, Colette, Thomas, Jenet and Paul. A report was published in a subsequent programme.[12]

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[1] A flyer for this show is included in the 'flyer' collection in the archive that accompanies this thesis.

 

[2] Minutes 23/5/93

 

[3] Press clipping from Kinokaze 3

 

[4] Quoted from email on 16-8-2001. See also efiles 'A to Z', 'Germany', and 'Film Checklist' and the 'Musicians of Bremen' programme (undated). A flyer is dated Friday 1st December.

 

[5] Quotes are all from the oral history interview carried out with Paul Tarrago in 1999.

 

[6] "There's a filmmaker called Scott Stark who's also based in San Francisco who runs a website called Flicker which has a listing of all the different screening initiatives and festivals and distribution networks and experimental friendly festivals and other festivals. He brings all the information together and has links with these websites all around the world. Exploding Cinema's actually got a link on there as well. Total Mobile Home told us about Flicker and since then we've used it quite a lot to check out other festivals and shows." (PT)

 

[7] Minutes 14-1-96

 

[8] See efile: A-Z list 1-12-95. The following account is based on an interview with Colette Rouhier (recorded 10th August 1999)

 

[9] Anon IP 28-3-97.

 

[10] These micro cinemas are all across North America and Canada with a few in Mexico as well. They have small but attentive audiences.

 

[11] ˝I've got a film at the moment which is in a London Electronic Arts package which is showing around Europe. I am really looking forward to gettingâ Every six months they should tell you where it's shown (and give you money for the times they've shown it). I am really interested to see where in Europe my film gets shown, because I've got no sense of who I can approach to try and show my work (in Europe). It's just a really discreet hermeticised world".(PT)

 

[12] ˝Thursday April 2nd. Up at six, packed the car, then drove to Dover where we boarded the Sea Cat bound for Ostend. Narrowly escaping planting my Brothel Creeper in a pool of vomit in the Sea Cat bogs. Disembarked and drove down the autobahn through rain and night to Frankfurt. Checked out the venue G Werk-Oust, a factory space on a godforsaken factory estate by the river Main. Met the venue girls Biggy and Misha and their frisky hounds. We were much impressed by the illuminated atlas globes that hung above the bar. Went to Didi's flat and slept in a row of sleeping bags like kippers.

Friday April 3rd. Walked around Frankfurt, which is like Croydon with more money. Dined on felafel and beer and then went down to the G Werk-Ost for a screening of German film and video which was most pleasing especially an animated symphony starring garage doors. Drank lots of beer, Back to Natalie's flat to kip.

Saturday April 4th. Woke up, halfway through breakfast Natalie turned up with Lemmy Motorhead-a-like and assorted coke fiends. Went to G Werk-Ost and set up our show. Ate pizza with capers. Show went down a storm and was packed out. Drank more beer.

Sunday April 5th. Woke up jaded. Drove to Cologne and met notorious Karsten Weber underground film impressario and infamous didgereedoo player Phil Cunningham at the venue Gebaud 9. Set up the show amidst much hungover tempers flaring. Audience arrived late but keen, until our Super 8 projector broke down. But in spite of it all it was a great show. Afterwards we danced to Screaming Jay Hawkins in the bar and drank beer. Went back to Jan's flat and passed out.

Monday April 6th. Bid farewell to Gebaud 9 crew and set off for home, but we got as far as Aachen and discovered we had the keys to Jan's flat. Bollocks. Arrived in Ostend and drank Hoegarden in a bar playing loud FM rock. Caught the Sea Cat and back to Blighty, Hell we could have gone on to Bremen.ţ  (IP 10-4-98)