|Started making films in Munich in 1966, in my head, because I had wanted to be a theatre director and couldn't figure out a reason to move actors anywhere on stage, having worked in Salzburg in 1966 on the Wysten Auden/ Chester Kallman/ Hans Werner Henze opera The Bassarids, and as general assistant on Lindtberg's production of Midsummer Nights Dream, then in Munich at the Kammerspiele in the graduate-seminar of August Everding. Having loved theatre to no avail, still finding no cause to move anyone from point a to point b, I gave up before beginning. And had been so taken - in 1964 - with Warhol's Blowjob, in 1963 with Godard's Le Mepris (in Zürich, shortly before going to university) that filmmaking "naturally" emerged from the love of theatre. In '66 had also been reading about Chelsea Girls, finally saw it in '67 in Boston, was overwhelmed, had been by then to so many films that impressed me, Bande a Part and La Chinoise (Godard), Muriel (Resnais), not to mention the attachment since 1963 to Beckett's Endgame and Krapp's Last Tape no less than Lorca's Yerma and Genet's The Maids; Ibsen, Schiller, no less than Le Roi Jones' The Slave and The Toilet, as well as Ionesco and Rolf Hochhuth's The Deputy, though theatre influences had all along had "cinematic" possibilities that made the change fairly automatic when the impulse was there. I made my first films in 1967-8 at Brandeis, as well as (simply to learn how to use the wonderful French shoulder-held Eclair with Angenieux 10:1 lense - though thereafter all my films were made with an Arri-S) a one hour documentary (with two fellow students to earn $200) of the heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, a one year old baby's first Christmas. We stayed in Massachusetts at their house for a week and with a Nagra, an Arri and the Eclair, made this documentary which I foolishly called A Child's Christmas in Dover (Massachusetts). Supposedly thereby learning how to put a conventional documentary together, we'd hide in the baby's bedroom, suddenly switch on enormous amounts of light and film baby Johnson's equally sudden "waking up Christmas morning" (filmed two days ahead of time of course). Also filmed Mom pretending to get her mink coat, Dad playing father christmas... etc. The family were worth I think 3 billion dollars, so it was understandable when on Christmas eve (the real one, not two days early) - we finally had a day off (and they had their privacy) - Mr. Johnson with a magnanimous "Merry Christmas" gave me $15 "so the three of you can go out to have a Christmas dinner." We managed hamburgers and coffee at the local diner, and some unpleasant comments about billionaires. The following June (1968) Warhol was shot. A few days later, I moved to England, and sat in a rented flat (ten guineas) in St. Johns Wood (Abercorn Place) reading IT (International Times), wherein was listed a meeting of the London Film Co-op at the Arts Lab....Went, met Dwoskin, Hartog, LeGrice, Drummond, others, and a week or two later took Room Film (Double take) to the open screening at David Curtis's Arts Lab Film nights or whatever they were called. Actually as there were two copies on one reel and I had no equipment, I asked David what to do to get them separated, he said "why not leave them together", which I thought a wonderful idea...
article published in Filmwaves - Issue 7, Spring 1999.