You were already in Los Angeles when, with God Respects Us When We Work, But Loves Us When We Dance, you documented the Easter Sunday Love-In, the subject of your third film. What made you decide to bring a camera to that event?
I was supporting the family. I’d gotten married again and my new wife had a baby [filmmaker Harrod Blank]. I had to support us so I had to take whatever I could find that would bring in some money. Industrial filmmaking was what I did. I did films that promoted business and industry, primarily training films and educational films. One of my million employers had an office on Sunset Strip and every lunchtime I’d go out to have my lunch. I would see these Flower Children walking around barefoot, handing out flowers and smiling at people and I wondered, “What’s going on here?” I learned that they’d just started having these weekly gatherings on Sundays called Love-Ins and I went to one and found it interesting. I borrowed my boss’s camera and shot a few 100’ rolls of film, three minutes each roll. Maybe I shot six or seven at one of these events. Meanwhile, one of my schoolmates at USC had a job at the local PBS station, KPFK, and he told me that they were interested in the Hippies, too. I went over there and showed them the footage that I had shot and they said, “This is great.” There was a huge Love-In coming up on Easter Sunday, 1967. The one’s that I’d been watching and partially documented were fairly small gatherings. The station didn’t have any money but, if I agreed to shoot this new one for no pay, they offered to pay for the negative. They would process it at the lab and pay for making a work print, provided I edited the footage into a half-hour piece that they could broadcast. Then they’d give me back the negative and I would own the film. All they wanted was just one broadcast and they would put their own music on, which they did. I went along with that and, again, borrowed my boss’s camera. Thanks to him, I don’t know if he ever knew it or not. I went out and shot one day, Easter Sunday, from sunrise to sunset, shooting non-stop and got the bulk of what’s in that film.
Then your cut of the film and the music that you used was different than the version that aired on PBS?
Yes. I worked with it quite a bit after that, although the groundwork was there. It wasn’t really finessed very much when it aired. I went to some kind of party in a “haunted house” type of mansion up in the hills somewhere in the Los Feliz area. I think that it was a benefit for KPFK, actually. The theme of the party was to come as a character from a Fellini movie. I rented the costume of an Italian country priest with a big round hat and scared myself when I looked in the mirror. At the party, there was a psychedelic rock band playing music that, to me, sounded like it would go perfect with the footage I’d shot. There were a lot of rock bands playing at the concert but I didn’t get a feed from their mixing panel. I was concentrating mostly on the audience with a few cutaways of rock performers playing. This was also the origin of rock concerts. Before the Love-Ins, there was no such thing as rock music out in the park in the daytime or in clubs like the Whiskey a Go Go. The same boss I worked for used to have an office right above the Whiskey a Go Go before he moved down the Strip. I heard a lot of that music coming through the floor late at night.
Bookmark/Search this post with: