Underground Film Journal

Ed Emshwiller

Portrait of filmmaker and illustrator Ed Emswiller at a drawing board

Ed Emshwiller was an American experimental filmmaker and sci-fi illustrator.

After earning a bachelor of design degree from the University of Michigan in 1949, Emshwiller studied graphics at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and at the Art Students League of New York. He then quickly established himself as a prolific illustrator for science-fiction and men's adventure pulp magazines, digests and paperbacks.

In the late '50s, and particularly the early '60s, Emshwiller became heavily involved in the underground film scene in New York City. In addition to making his own films, he was the director of photography on films such as Adolfas Mekas's Hallelujah the Hills.

Later, Emshwiller moved to California where he became the provost and dean of film and video at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia.

Emshwiller passed away on July 26, 1990.

Watch Streaming Films By Ed Emshwiller:


Sunstone (1979)
Crossings and Meetings (1974)
Chrysalis (1973)
Thermogenesis (1972)
Scape-Mates (1972)
Choice Chance Woman Dance (1971)
Film With Three Dancers (1970)
Carol (1970)
Branches (1970)
Jr. Star Trek (1969)
Image, Flesh and Voice (1969)
Relativity (1963-66) or (1966)
Body Works (1965)
Scrambles (1964)
Fusion (1963)
Totem (1962-63)
George Dumpson’s Place (1961-63) or (1965)
Scrambles (1960-63)
Thanatopsis (1960-62)
Life Lines (aka Lifelines) (1960)
Variable Studies (1960– ) (unfinished)
Dance Chromatic (1959)
Transformations (1959)


Underground Cinema 12: January-May 1971

Underground Cinema 12 was a midnight movie screening series of underground films that ran in theaters owned by Louis Sher, who founded “the nation’s largest circuit of art houses” in 1954. While Sher was the head of the Art Theatre Guild, Underground Cinema 12 was run by his nephew Mike Getz. The series began at […]

Experimental Film Coalition: The Monthly Screenings

This is Part Two in a series about Chicago’s Experimental Film Coalition; and covers their screening series. Formed in 1983, the Experimental Film Coalition started holding regular monthly screenings starting in 1984. The screenings brought to Chicago the work of independent, experimental filmmakers across the country, as well as screening local work.

EXPRMNTL 3: 1963 Recap

1963 was a pivotal year in the history of avant-garde film in the United States. In Visionary Film, P. Adams Sitney calls it “the high point of the mythopoeic development within the American avant-garde.”

Boston Film-Makers’ Cinematheque 1966-67: The Posters

In 1966, as the underground film wave was sweeping the country, a Boston off-shoot of New York City’s Film-Makers’ Cinematheque opened at a performance space at 53 Berkeley Street. Underground films were shown on weeknights, while on the weekends the space transformed into a music venue called The Boston Tea Party.