The Last Days at The London Film Co-op

still – Talking To a Stone, Inger Lise Hansen

1990 -98

Guy Sherwin, Filter Beds (UK, 1998, 9 minutes, b&w, opt, 16mm )
Tiny changes in focus allow Guy Sherwin to explore a tangle of trees, reeds and sky. Sherwin’s manipulation of the camera lens allows him to mimic the activity of looking, isolating small details and guiding the viewers gaze. The images always hover at the edge of abstraction.
Inger-Lise Hansen, Talking To A Stone (UK, 1993, 14 minutes, Colour, Opt. 16mm)
‘Talking to a Stone uses cinema’s dimension of time to explore decay in an urban landscape, accelerating the destruction around us through invisible human intervention. Objects move from the weight of reality to abstract thought; they become fragile, in that we witness their extinction through
frame-by-frame manipulation.

Paul Rodgers, Wax (UK, 1990,14 minutes, Colour, sound, 16mm)
23 people are moved around an old bandstand, a lead object is constructed by the alchemist, skulls, a weathered gravestone, a heart in a hand, dead insects, photographs, threads and memories, death and life in a waxing book.
David Leicester, Headgear (UK, 1991, 6 minutes, B&W, opt)
HEADGEAR deals with the symmetry of sound and image in opposition to the symmetry of the brain. The focal point is a relatively crude and inexact method of measurement for the highly complex mechanism of the brain.
Greg Pope/ Karel Doing, Maas Observation (UK/NL 1997 11mins B+W 16mm)
A poetic film essay , capturing the epic industrial landscape of Rotterdam’s ports.
Tanya Syed, Salamander (UK, 1994, 12 minutes, Colour,16mm)
The film is set in a fast food take-away, at a roundabout where the excess of traffic, light and sound forces us into dream space where projections of desire and place are carved into the nocturnal city.

Catalogue essay which accompanied the programme :

I started volunteering at The London Film Makers Co-op in the late 1980s, soon after I arrived in the city, and worked there as a Workshop Organiser from 1992-95. The space was an old railway building and the resources and funding were minimal. Water poured through the roof of the cinema, equipment was held together with string, tape and hope…The glory days seemed to have passed, older artists would recount how it had been in the 60s or 70s or 80s. But amazing films and events happened throughout the 90s, before the organisation was caught and absorbed into a new bright London, which promised so much for the coming millennium…
In 1988 when I first arrived, the LFMC building was located in Camden, on Gloucester Avenue. The entrance was up some rusty stairs on the second floor. I was a fresh enthusiast and quickly started hanging around the space and helping out at events and screenings. Most of the people there, like myself, were recent graduates from art college, there was a high proportion of students from St.Martins college of art which had a strong link with the LFMC. Some people came because they wanted to be ‘proper’ mainstream directors, but
had no money, so were forced to use the aging equipment at the Co-op, I was there because it was the only place I could see and create these kinds of films. There was no internet, and no other cinema in London showed this stuff – it was the only place to go.
I was there so often that someone suggested that I train as a projectionist – using the nice big 16mm Fumeo projector – then I could see the films and get paid! I became one of the cinema’s trusted projectionists and I saw hundreds of fantastic films through the projection window.
I also started to use the place for my own experiments; printing and processing, editing and shooting. I was part of a collective film group called Loophole Cinema and we would sometimes occupy the basement space downstairs, an old laundry, and build installations and events. The Old Laundry was a fantastic space, many different artists used it. We were free to create anything there; we built a Super 8 labyrinth, we made fighting projectors, our first shadow screen, we also made a machine installation ‘The Propaganda Beacons’ from old record players, sheets of glass, self-welded structures and randomly repeating vinyl.
Politically there were many debates about the future of the LFMC, there was an old guard which didn’t want to change and younger artists hoping to develop the activities in some way. Everything was very restricted by lack of investment and funding. Other organisations also began, such as Exploding Cinema, who put on screening events. They rejected funding (and the LFMC) outright and took a more anarchic stance as the true inheritors of the ‘underground ‘film scene. So there was debate within the LFMC, as well as arguements with
our funders, (Arts Council UK) and with outside elements who believed the LFMC should be allowed to die.
The very lack of funding and the run-down state of the whole building in one way was a great freedom, we were free to use the space as we wanted, to programme and build as we wanted, beyond the gaze of the large institutions. The space itself seemed to generate new ideas, I already had a punk mentality (that was my era) and at the LFMC you needed an ‘arte povera’ (poor art) philosophy to get stuff done. The same was true all over London, but I
think that from the late 80s to the late 90s The London Film Makers Co-op became my spiritual and creative home.
A huge investment from The National Lottery changed things forever at the turn of the century – and not necessarily all in a good way – but that’s another story…
Greg Pope.