TVTV (video collective)

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TVTV (short for Top Value Television) was a San Francisco-based pioneering video collective founded in 1972 by Allen Rucker, Michael Shamberg, Tom Weinberg, Hudson Marquez and Megan Williams. Shamberg was author of the 1971 "do-it-yourself" video production manual Guerrilla Television. Over the years, more than thirty "guerrilla video" makers were participants in TVTV productions. They included members of the Ant Farm: Chip Lord, Doug Michels, Hudson Marquez and Curtis Schreier; the Videofreex, Skip Blumberg, Nancy Cain, Chuck Kennedy, and Parry Teasdale. TVTV pioneered the use of independent video based on wanting to change society and have a good time inventing new and then-revolutionary media, ½" Sony Portapak video equipment, and later embracing the ¾" video format.

The group made a series of unique socially significant historical documentaries such as:

  • Four More Years (1972), covering the 1972 Republican National Convention
  • The World's Largest TV Studio (1972), covering the 1972 Democratic National Convention
  • Adland (1974), an examination of American commercial culture
  • Lord of the Universe (1974), an award-winning documentary on the activities of the GuruMaharaj Ji and his followers[1]
  • TVTV Looks at the Oscars (1976) concept by Rich Rosen
  • TVTV: Super Bowl (1976) concept by Rich Rosen
  • Gerald Ford's America (1975)
  • The TVTV Show (1976), TVTV's final television special, co-produced with NBC television, directed by Alan Myerson
  • The Bob Dylan Hard Rain Special (1976), another NBC co-production
  • Supervision (1976), a multipart PBS series about the birth of television and its cultural impact
  • The Good Times are Killing me (1975) a portrait of Cajun culture. Focusing on the Cajuns'strong cultural identity as well as the life of Cajun Musician Nathan Abshire

Other participants in TVTV included designer Elan Soltes, producer David Axelrod, actor-comedian Bill Murray and his brother Brian Doyle-Murray, cinematographer Paul Goldsmith, actor and director Harold Ramis and producer Wendy Appel (aka Wendy Apple).

In 1976 -1977, experimental filmmaker Wheeler Winston Dixon briefly joined the collective, editing most of the Supervision series, as well as portions of the Hard Rain Special and the entirety of The TVTV Show.

TVTV's many alumni went onto careers of their own with the disbanding of the group in 1979, after a move to Los Angeles that brought many in the group more into the orbit of conventional filmmaking. Bill Murray went on to become an international film star; Michael Shamberg a film producer, most notably with his company Jersey Films, in collaboration with Stacey Sher and Danny DeVito; Allen Rucker became a writer and author; Wheeler Winston Dixon became an author and university professor; Harold Ramis went on to a long career as a mainstream film director, writer and actor.

Other TVTV members Skip Blumberg became a well known videographer and producer; Tom Weinberg produced more than 500 nonfiction broadcasts, local and national based in his hometown, Chicago; Elan Soltes emerged as a video graphic designer in Hollywood. One of the world's most influential video "communes," TVTV's influence is felt to this day on the many "guerrilla videos" on YouTube and other websites, as people now routinely use videography to get their message out to larger audiences.


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