geert on Mon, 1 Apr 2002 08:02:45 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Guerrilla Drive-In: Film on the Wall
March 15 - 21, 2002

Guerrilla Drive-In: Film on the Wall
Paul Malcolm

FRIDAY NIGHT A HANDFUL OF EXPECTANT strangers gather in cars at a cracked
and narrow parking lot in Hollywood. We're here to see Los Angeles' "first
guerrilla drive-in," according to the Web site ( that led us
here, and at 10 minutes past 8 we're still waiting. In the chilly night
air, we exchange the nervous glances of the taken.

 "Maybe it's a hoax," George Gomez says to his friend David Aguilar. That
 wouldn't be such a bad thing for Gomez and Aguilar, who are filmmakers.
 "We're thinking about doing our own guerrilla drive-in at the end of
 August," Gomez says. "We thought we'd be the first ones to do it. Of
 course, we still could be first because there's nothing going on here."

 As if on cue, a car pulls into the lot and the driver starts unloading
 electronics. "Sorry I'm late," Caleb Schultz tells us. "Traffic was
 really bad."

 Everything it takes to stage a guerrilla drive-in fits neatly into the
 back of Schultz's Honda Civic: a VCR, a video projector, an FM receiver
 and a generator. The only other things you need are a film and a wall.

 Tonight, we're watching 12, an experimental feature by writer-director
 Lawrence Bridges, projected on the painted brick wall of a food bank just
 south of a Staples store on Sunset Boulevard. Bridges isn't here
 tonight -- and it turns out that this is not the first screening of 12,
 which follows the plight of two prodigal demigods forced by their father,
 a wrathful Zeus, to live in Los Angeles as characters from The Importance
 of Being Earnest. The director began projecting a two-hour cut of his
 three-hour movie onto the sides of buildings from Santa Monica to the
 Valley last summer. Sometimes he gets the owner's permission; sometimes
 he doesn't, a dicey prospect given tonight's locale: behind the parking
 lot of the LAPD's Hollywood station.

 Schultz is an intern at Bridges' commercial-production company, and acts
 as Bridges' projectionist and publicist. After he fires up the generator
 and sets the projector on top of the Civic, he distributes press kits to
 nine people divided among five cars. "This is a good turnout," he says.
 "Sometimes no one shows up."

 By 8:30, with everyone snug in their cars -- radios tuned to the
 Spanish-language dance station KACD 103.1 FM, to pick up the localized
 pirate signal that will carry 12's soundtrack -- everything is set.

 For a fleeting moment, as the film's first frames flicker over an
 adjacent alley, this tiny quadrant of the city feels freed from the
 rationality of the grid. Gradually, with footage of the L.A. riots and
 the Northridge earthquake incorporated into its narrative, the film and
 its environment begin to sync up in fascinating ways.

 "It's almost like a Cristo gesture," Bridges says a few days later over
 the phone, "to make connections between illusion and reality and then put
 that back on the walls of the city that inspired it, dressing the city
 with its own fiction."

 We're a long way from Hershel Gordon Lewis and Joe Bob Briggs here.
 Bridges' quixotic project doesn't tell a story so much as it gets at the
 nature of telling stories on film through an epic amalgam of Greek
 mythology, Oscar Wilde, recent Los Angeles history, and the influences of
 Herzog, Wenders, Scorsese, Godard and other movie gods. As Bridges
 describes his film's disjunctive form: "I still haven't gotten over
 Weekend yet."

 Certainly, Bridges' guerrilla venue -- at once brazenly out in the open
 and totally clandestine -- doesn't help. Like a real drive-in movie
 screening, distractions come easily. There are no make-out sessions to
 spy on, but sometimes it's more fun to watch the passing Friday-night
 fun-seekers and homeless men on Cole Street as they try to figure out
 what's happening onscreen.

 Bridges doesn't mind. He thinks there's value in melding drive-in culture
 with underground movies. "I hope my film finds an audience, but I also
 wanted to create a unique experience," he says. "I hope more people get
 into this. Then people can just drive around, stop and sample art."

 As for filmmakers Gomez and Aguilar, they drive off an hour into 12. No
 doubt on the way to getting their own drive-in started.

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