8.08 Main Themes

c) Observations on group identity.

'Colette said that the Exploding Cinema had a 'personality'' - implying that its formula should be conserved.[1]

As I have noted there is inertia in the group that maintains this characteristic 'formula'. The 'personality' of Exploding Cinema has evolved out of the early collective and is clearly successful.[2] For those who were there early on and active in creating this formula the personality must feel profoundly owned and a part of their past. Adherence to this formula is not spelled out in the Collective Agreement and is not a stated requirement of membership although it is perhaps self-evident after experiencing a couple of shows. However even the core members do become weary of the formulaic nature. Colette's expressed reason for having a sabbatical from the Exploding Cinema was that it was all 'getting too predictable'.[3]

Paul Tarrago has said he doesn't believe that there is a British underground.[4] Later Duncan expressed a similar sentiment.[5] In spite of the recent activity by London film groups there is no alternative national or international circuit for films to be disseminated through as there was in the Sixties. On the other hand, there is a 'counter culture' and Exploding Cinema is seen to be part of it.

The Exploding Cinema's inclusion in the 'Cultures of Resistance' book published in London in 2000, does put Exploding Cinema alongside a whole range of other manifestations of oppositional culture that showed together in the festival of the same name in Tower Bridge Road in December 1999. It described itself as: "A coming together of artists, activists, musicians, sound-systems, filmmakers, chefs, performers."[6]

Exploding Cinema takes part in a diffuse network of oppositional communications. In addition to the events themselves, it is the style of publicity and programmes that give Exploding Cinema symbolic membership of the counter culture.

'In underground terms the best publicity is a lot of obscure, well designed and witty but cheaply printed flyers pinned up on all sorts of obscure notice boards, given out knowingly at key meeting places and mailed out. Hipsters pride themselves in being able to spot such stuff amongst the plethora of highly coloured attention grabbing commercial advertising'. [7]




[1] L1 p65. From a meeting at Duncan's flat on 14th March 1998.


[2] In the sense of attracting a regular audience.


[3] L3 p353 Colette took her sabbatical around 1999.


[4] L2 p217. From a meeting on 21st January 1999.


[5] L3 p289. This opinion was from a phone call with Duncan on 18th May 1999 after he had been in Falmouth for a period.


[6] This 108 page (unpaginated) perfect-bound paperback has no author or editor, no publisher and no ISBN. It was printed at the Book Factory, London.


[7] L3 p317. This observation is made after a visit to the Soho based Webshack for a show of short films on 27th July 1999 at which I handed out Exploding Cinema flyers. This caused some interest and people were coming up to me asking for a flyer.