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Feature Article

May 6, 2018

Canyon Cinema Cooperative: Catalogue Number One

Cover to the first Canyon Cinema Cooperative Catalogue from December 1966

In December 1966, the Canyon Cinema Cooperative in San Francisco, California published their first Catalogue of experimental and avant-garde films to rent. This was four years after the Film-Makers’ Cooperative had begun distributing underground films in New York City.

Canyon first listed films to rent in the November ’66 edition of their News newsletter, then published the catalog separately one month later. In the book Canyon Cinema, Scott MacDonald notes that the News listed just 31 filmmakers with films. Only six of them had multiple films listed; while the rest listed just a single film each.

The first standalone catalogue expanded on that first listing of filmmakers, but is still a modest publication at just sixteen pages, plus the covers. The catalogue includes 45 filmmakers — some are listed as pairs — and many more filmmakers have multiple films listed. For example, Larry Jordan has eight films listed, Robert Nelson six and Bruce Baillie four.

There are no ordering instructions included in the catalogue, but each film is listed with a rental price — some with even a for sale price. The contact address on the front cover is 58 Verona Place, San Francisco, CA 94107; which was the home of filmmaker Earl Bodien. (According to Google Maps, Verona Place does not seem to exist anymore.)

The back cover includes this publishing note:

Printed in the U.S.A.
HARRY GANTT Publishers Printing Representative

There are no film stills reproduced in the catalogue. The only illustration appears on the cover and is the front version of Canyon’s “logo” mascot, the Exothematic Man, a drawing pilfered from, according to MacDonald’s book, a nineteenth century medicine catalog.

Below is a list of all the filmmakers in the catalogue, with a few notable films pointed out:

Jerry Abrams
William Allan and Bruce Nauman
Steve Arnold

Bruce Baillie:
Mass for the Dakota Sioux (1964) 20 min. B&W Rental: $20.00
Tung (1966) 5 min. Color Silent Rental $7.00
Castro Street (1966) 10 min. Color/B&W Rental: $10.00
All My Life (1966) 3 min. Color Rental $4.00

Scott Bartlett
Dave Bennett
David Bienstock
Gary Blackman
Earl E. Bodien
Lawrence Booth
Rudy Burckhardt
Robert Citron

Bob Cowan:
Evocations 17 min. Color Rental $20.00

Connacht Davis
Tom Dewitt
Edd Dundas
Edward English
Robert Feldman
Ron Finne and Harry Noller
Larry Jordan
Clark Kent
George Kling

George Kuchar:
Hold Me While I’m Naked 17 min. Color Rental: $20.00
Corruption of the Damned 55 min. B&W Rental: $55.00

Mike Kuchar:
Green Desire (1965) 20 min. Color Rental $25.00
The Secret of Wendel Samson (1966) 35 min. Color Rental: $50.00
(Wendel Samson would also be listed in the first Supplement to the second Catalog. Available on DVD.)

Lou Lefort
Charles I. Levine
Leonard Lipton
Ronald Nameth

Gunvor Nelson and Dorothy Willey
Schmeerguntz 15 min. B&W Rental: $15.00 Sale: $130.0

Robert Nelson
Peter Nicolopoulos
Andrew Noren
Loren Rehbock
Paul Ryan
Loren Sears
Sheil-Kama Productions
Jose Soltero
Geard Stern (The Journal believes this is a misspelling of Gerd Stern)
Walker Ungerer
Ben Van Meter
Michael K. Wiese

Jud Yalkut:
Turn Turn Turn 10 min. Color Rental: $20.00 (Watch Online)
Difraction Film 10 min. Color Silent (but at 24 fps) Rental $15.00

Online Cinema

April 28, 2018

Turn Turn Turn — Jud Yalkut

Turn Turn Turn by Jud Yalkut (1965-1966)

Jud Yalkut’s main contribution to the 1960s underground film scene was his cinematic documentation of multi-media installations and performance art “happenings.” One of his earliest contributions to this field was Turn Turn Turn, completed in either 1965 or 1966.

In 1965, Yalkut had joined the multimedia collective USCO, which the book Rock ‘N’ Film by David E. James describes as a group influenced by Marshal McLuhan, Buckminster Fuller and Meher Baba that created installations “designed to expand human consciousness to states of mystical awareness.” The name USCO is a shortening of the phrase “Company of Us” or “Us Company.”

According to the first Canyon Cinema Cooperative catalog, issued in December 1966, Yalkut describes Turn Turn Turn:

Sound by USCO
A kinetic alchemy of the light and electronic works of Nicholas Schoffer, Julio Le Parc, USCO, and Nam June Paik. An experiment in McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” and the inter-media translation.

(Note: “Nicholas Schoffer” is a mis-spelling of artist Nicolas Schöffer.)

However, when the other members of USCO saw Turn Turn Turn for the first time, they were appalled that Yalkut had put his individual name in the film’s credits, according to the oral history project From Beat Scene Poet to Psychedelic Multimedia Artist in San Francisco and Beyond. The members say that for the film they provided Yalkut “Everything. All the access, all the images.”

Abstract ribbons of red and silver from an experimental film by Jud Yalkut

Turn Turn Turn is no longer offered for rent through Canyon Cinema, but it is available through the Film-Makers’ Cooperative where it is listed with the same catalogue description. Most likely due to this description, the film is often referred to as just having a soundtrack by USCO — the looping of the Byrds’ 1965 pop song of the same name. While USCO claims they provided both sound and image for the film, Schöffer, Le Parc and Paik were not members of the collective. (Yalkut and Paik would collaborate extensively for the next several years.)

Although Turn Turn Turn is oftentimes written with commas or exclamation points; i.e. Turn, Turn, Turn or Turn! Turn! Turn!; and it is currently listed on the Film-Makers’ Cooperative website with commas, the Journal writes it without the commas based on the original Canyon Cinema catalog listing. Also, the film was preserved through the National Film Preservation Foundation according to their 2015 report.

The on-screen credits that angered the USCO members so much simply read:

By Jud Yalkut


(Note that the film doesn’t even give them credit for the soundtrack.)