Craig Baldwin

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Craig Baldwin
Craig Baldwin 4.jpg
Craig Baldwin in 2015
Born1952 (age 65–66)
Oakland, California
OccupationFilmmaker
Notable workTribulation 99, Mock Up on Mu

Craig Baldwin (born 1952) is an American experimental filmmaker. He uses found footage from the fringes of popular consciousness as well as images from the mass media to undermine and transform the traditional documentary, infusing it with the energy of high-speed montage and a provocative commentary that targets subjects from intellectual property rights to rampant consumerism.

Early life[edit]

Craig Baldwin was born in Oakland, California. He grew up the youngest child in a middle class family in nearby Carmichael. During high school, he became interested in Beatnik culture. He went to underground film screenings and started filming with a Super 8 camera.[1][2]

Baldwin attended college at University of California at Davis. There, he took film classes through the theatre department and began collecting films. He was also politically active as a student. Baldwin left UC Davis in the early 1970s and later attended the University of California at Santa Barbara.[1]

Career[edit]

Early short films (1976–1990)[edit]

Baldwin's 1976 Stolen Movie is a Super 8 film made by running into movie theatres and filming the screen. He has described it as a kind of prank. His next short film, Flick Skin, was made while working at porn theatres. The 1978 film Wild Gunman looks at the figure of the Marlboro Man. Baldwin made it with B-movies and advertisements from jobs at grindhouses.[1][3]

In 1984 Baldwin moved to San Francisco's Mission District and co-founded Artists' Television Access.[4][5] He was an early proponent culture jamming, altering billboards to add political messages and documenting the work of the Billboard Liberation Front through the 1990s.[6] Baldwin earned an M.A. from San Francisco State University in 1986. It was there, in San Francisco State's Cinema Department, that he first became interested in collage film during his studies under Bruce Conner, a filmmaker famous for his artwork of scraps, which extend beyond film into traditional collage, sculpture, and photography.[1] At Artists' Television Access, Baldwin started his ongoing Other Cinema series in 1987.[7]

During the 1980s, Baldwin started amassing a large collection film works, many of which were discarded by institutions moving over to VHS.[8] He drew from this collection for his 1986 film RocketKitKongoKit, which narrates the CIA's role in establishing Mobutu Sese Seko's military dictatorship in Zaire (now the DR Congo) and the history of rocket testing there by a German weapons manufacturer. It often visually re-enacts the story with loosely associated footage, such as cartoons, industrial films, or science fiction films. Like many of Baldwin's later works, RocketKitKongoKit used documentary techniques not to present an authoritative history but to counter official histories by presenting alternative histories and blurring the boundaries between them.[1][9]

Early feature work (1991–2000)[edit]

Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America (1991), perhaps his most well-known film, is a parody of CIA interventions in developing countries as well as a critique of paranoia and conspiracy theories, presented as a pseudo-documentary that tells the revisionist history of alien intervention in Latin America in 99 brief ramblings.[10]

Baldwin's ¡O No Coronado! (1992) is a retelling of the invasion of the American southwest by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado in the mid-16th century. It was his first film to include original live-action footage. His next work dealt with the Concord-based band Negativland, which was sued in 1991 by U2 over a parody sound collage it had made. Baldwin made a documentary called Sonic Outlaws that chronicles the case, as well as various activist groups working for copyright reform.[1]

Baldwin's 1999 film, Spectres of the Spectrum, is a science fiction allegory which tells the story of a young woman with telepathic powers, who travels back in time to save the world from an electro-magnetic pulse. The film takes a cautionary stance against the media outlets in charge of creating and perpetuating the popular mainstream, and in doing so, follows the trajectory, through collage, of media from its beginnings to the present. In 2000 Baldwin received the Moving Image Creative Capital Award.[11]

Later work (2001–present)[edit]

Baldwin presenting a program in 2016

Baldwin has taught at UC Davis and UC Berkeley.[5] He established Other Cinema Digital in 2003 to provide distribution for films by independent, underground, and experimental filmmakers. In 2005 it partnered with Facets Video to distribute a series of works on DVD.[12]

In 2008, Baldwin created Mock Up on Mu, a fictional story based heavily on the real facts of the lives of L. Ron Hubbard, Marjorie Cameron, Aleister Crowley, and Jack Parsons. Mostly assembled from found footage, Mock Up on Mu introduced more original live-action footage than in earlier projects.

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Maloney, Tim (2006). "Craig Baldwin". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  2. ^ Polta, Steve (September 30, 2007). "Masochism of the Margins: An Interview with Craig Baldwin". Incite!. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Luckhurst, Roger (October 2008). "Found-footage science fiction". Science Fiction Film and Television. 1 (2).
  4. ^ Carley, Christopher (2008). "Talk about a combustible mix: an interview with Craig Baldwin". Cineaste.
  5. ^ a b Ryce, Walter (June 30, 2013). Lucia, Cynthia; Grundmann, Roy; Simon, Art, eds. "Art Filmmaker Craig Baldwin's CSUMB Summer Arts Interview". Monterey County Weekly. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  6. ^ McLeod, Kembrew; Kuenzli, Rudolf (2011). Cutting Across Media: Appropriation Art, Interventionist Collage, and Copyright Law. Duke University Press. pp. 8, 177–178. ISBN 978-0-8223-4822-1.
  7. ^ MacDonald, Scott (2015). "Home-Made Cinema and the Microcinema Movement". American Film History: Selected Readings, 1960 to the Present. John Wiley & Sons. p. 254. ISBN 978-1-118-47512-6.
  8. ^ Jones, J.R. (June 7, 2018). "Chicago Underground Film Festival: Tribulation 99". Chicago Reader. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  9. ^ Knipfel, Jim (June 29, 2017). "Chomsky Does Not Make Movies: an Interview with Filmmaker Craig Baldwin". The Believer. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  10. ^ Bertens, Johannes Willem; Fokkema, Douwe Wessel (1997). International Postmodernism: Theory and Literary Practice. Comparative History of Literature in European Languages. 11. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 144. ISBN 9027234450.
  11. ^ "Spectres of the Spectrum". Creative Capital. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  12. ^ Gruenwedel, Erik (January 2, 2005). "Facets Makes Other Cinema Deal". Video Store Magazine. p. 8.

External links[edit]