[from "A microCINEMA Primer" by TOTAL MOBILE HOME (55pp.,
For 3 years, we ran a little film space which we called a microCINEMA.
We didnt have any money but we had a landlord living in Hawaii who
didnt know that we were building something down in his basement.
The basement was full of decades of hard odorless catshit, and some boxes
of deserted clothing.
We put on masks, opened the window to the airshaft and started cleaning.
The floor was cement. We painted it blue. It was so damp down there that
it took a week to dry.
Then we covered open wall beams with dry wall and painted them black.
We bought wood and made benches out of it. Enough to seat thirty people.
A friend came over and told us that it looked like a church.
We thought that they looked like childrens benches.
Then we found some big pizza sauce cans. We painted them black and made
them into red, white, amber, and blue theatre lights.
Our neighbor Bruce, who is a pornography lover, was excited about seeing
some blue movies and gave us a control panel for the lights.
His father is an electrician so he knows how to wire and rewire everything.
Bruce also gave us a Public Adress system and 2 big speakers.
The basement is forty feet long, eight feet wide, and eight feet high.
We sawed a square high up on one end wall and put glass in it.
On the other side of that wall is the meter room.
In the meter room, we built a stand for a projector which we already owned.
We found a high quality though damaged screen. We had to cover the silver
with white paint. We hung the screen.
A month had passed since we started working.
The basic cinema was complete.
Bruces friend, YUKO NEXUS-6 was visiting him from Japan. She walked
in and saw our cinema She told us that she wanted to perform there.
"When?," we asked. "Tomorrow," she said, "Im
going back to Tokyo soon. I have friends who will come."
YUKO NEXUS-6 did a show- a performance of music composed on the Macintosh
computer. Three of her friends, two of our friends
and our neighbors Bruce and Dave came. Yuko asked us to project a film
while she was playing.
We chose the termite documentary, "Castles of Clay".
Then Dave asked us if his band of country western clowns could perform
in the cinema. We said yes and they performed the following weekend.
The other name that we considered for our cinema was "under me".
The string of words which we ended up using came to us suddenly and they
made some kind of sense. The home part made sense.
One of us had run a cine-club in Baltimore called The H.orse O.pera M.eanderthal
E.ncounter Group: THE HOME GROUP.
We were happy to be small.
We designed a logo of a house with our name on it. We loved our logo and
stuck it everywhere.
Then we made up a calendar of six events that would happen on Friday nights
for $3. We made 200 copies and put up in
the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco. We called the editors at the
free weekly papers. We also mailed them to people.
Some of the people we knew and some of the people we didnt know:
we got their names from other people.
The first event was called TOTAL MOBILE HOME: From The Bedroom to the
Banquet. Twenty-five people came.
The two of us and a filmmaker named Owen OToole each assumed responsibility
for choosing films which related
to one and all of the three words. In addition, one of us lay in the bedroom
right above the cinema with a surveillance camera
pointed at him/her and broadcast live, down to the people in the cinema,
requesting that visitors communicate by banging on the ceiling.
Twenty- five people came because it was the first event.
Over the next 3 years, we had 150 shows on Friday nights. Some like TOTAL
Vagueness had only one visitor. Some had far too many people to fit
in the space. We didnt like having more than thirty people down
The place developed. We made the meter room into a reception area with
piped in music and a bar. A friend of Bruces- Steve Stupid got evicted
from his house.
Steve was a plant enthusiast and had many healthy oversized palm trees
and other kinds of plants. Overnight, our cement backyard transformed
into a tropical
paradise. We piped in music built a bar back there too.
After three years of running the microCINEMA we decided to get married.
We called our wedding TOTAL WEDDING, and made our friends and family watch
Michael Snows Wavelength before the rabbi performed the service.
Then we projected ourselves dancing onto a wedding cake in the aspect
a television screen. We danced all night to Klezmer music and Wedding
Now weve stopped running the microCinema. A lot of people around
the country have started running MicroCinemas. Every time they call me
I ask them
what they mean by the term because Im not sure. The answers are
all different but the common factor is that they are starting them all
Now weve started showing films outdoors during the summer in a small
town in Arizona, which hasnt had film for thirty years. Since its
an old mining town,
were calling it "underground" film.
But we still call ourselves TOTAL MOBILE HOME microCINEMA.