Bill Daniel – May1st at San Marco TheatreApril 25, 2007
I had the pleasure of seeing Bill Daniel’s “Who is Bozo Texino” film at The Pit last year. And when I saw he’d be coming back I thought getting Tim Massett to an interview with him would be killer! Bill Daniel is currently on the road though, and the lack of technology and time got the best of Bill, Tim and myself. So Tim wrote a bit about Bill, and we found some rad links about all the incredible stuff this guy does.
The long and sort of this is this… on May 1st Bill Daniel screens “Last Free Ride” at 9:30 at the San Marco Theatre. You should be there!
And now about Bill Daniel…
Tim Massett says… “I first met Bill Daniel while living in Austin, Texas. For me, it was a good time to stumble upon this fella. It’s a understatement to say how much his maniac programming skills, like the super great weekly film series, FUNHOUSE CINEMA, burned an imprint onto my brain. Last year, Bill, the filmmaking hobo, made stop at the pit to screen his many-years-in-the-making film WHO IS BOZO TEXINO to more than 100 anxious folks. It was an opportunity to provide Bill a stopping post in a city that normally would fall outside of any touring filmmaker’s radar (right up the tramp’s alley for sure), and one of the best screenings I’ve ever been a part of.
Well, the tramp is headed back to Cowford for May Day. This time the screening will be at the San Marco Theatre. He will pull in with his sail van (more on this later) and two films to screen for us inside. Due to time constraints, I won’t be able to interview him one-on-one, but I will be gleaning info from previous interviews and sources about Bill’s Sunset Scavenger project, how Bill came to filmmaking and how his lifestyle really informs his creation of the work.”
The Sunset Scavenger will be a part of the show on may day here in Jacksonville. (The following is from Creative Capitol’s website) “While finishing Bozo Texino, Daniel also created what he calls the sailvan: a 1965 Chevy van outfitted with a double mast and sails that serve as screens for outdoor video exhibitions. The van serves as an emblem for Daniel’s dedication to do-it-yourself subcultures and people who craft a self-sufficient lifestyle counter to the prevailing American ideology.”
“Inspired by the sailvan’s first tour, Daniel has started compiling material for Sunset Scavenger, a combined video and installation. Supported by a grant from the Creative Capital Foundation, the project will include the sailvan and up to four documentary media installations based on ecology and environmental destruction, with profiles of people who find inventive solutions to rampant consumption and destructive waste. Daniel is planning to create media settings throughout 2006 using sound, projection, and rear-projected video, so that viewers will engage with these issues experientially. The sailvan offers one such venue, with the sail acting as a metaphor for alternate forms of power. Ultimately, the separate video installations will become a single-channel video compilation of all the profiles, to be screened at festivals and other venues around the world in late 2007. Currently in the research phase, Daniel sees his project unfolding in stages over the next few years. “My goal is to find more people who are inventive or self-reliant, or who have this lost knowledge and these forgotten skills,” says Daniel, whose own films and do-it-yourself screening style embodies exactly that.” The non-linear program stars hippie houseboaters, punk back-to-the-landers anchor-outs, rubber tramps, off-the-gridders, and desert rats that are today’s true cultural vanguard, and features a bus-dwelling homeless street preacher who relates Noah’s story to our times. Wow.
“Last Free Ride” is a feature film that bill helped to bring back from someone’s closet. According to Daniel it’s a “true gem of a cultural artifact—it’s just unbelievable that kids living in such wild-ass anarchy could pull off a feature film. It’s sincere, hokey, authentic– unlike any sixties film you’ve seen.”
Last Free Ride is an incredibly rare film that defies categorization and provides a mind-blowing glimpse into a fantastic world where industrious dropouts lived for free on homemade boats on San Francisco Bay. As the Sixties wound down hippies and misfits began to move out of Haight-Ashbury and onto an abandoned waterfront across the Golden Gate Bridge. There they built a sprawling free-form floating community of hand-made houseboats, beat-up sailboats and salvaged and converted World War Two lifeboats. They lived rent and law-free on their floating folk art houses, until the establishment–city officials backed by real estate interests– launched a war to evict them. Last Free Ride captures this incredible story in a home-made film with all the naive charm of a community theater presentation, with beautiful photography and amazing reportage that could only be captured by the people who were actually living the life.
The story line in Last Free Ride ostensibly, and rather clumsily, follows the exploits of Joe Tate and his scrappy rock band, the Red Legs, through their daily lives of boat-building, partying, and ultimately battling the cops for their floating homes. But perhaps the real value in this treasure of a film is the documented reality that it incidentally depicts. This was one of those magic times and places where a group of creative people was able to momentarily carve out a place to live not just for free, but freely. It is a scene that in today’s security-obsessed, everything-is-for-sale society seems impossible. But for a short while it was possible, and thankfully some of those rebels put down the wine, guitars, joints and boat-building tools, picked up cameras and recorders and make this unlikely record of their incredible, inspired community.
While researching the history of the houseboat scene on San Francisco Bay for a film on global warming, documentary maker Bill Daniel heard rumors of “the hippie houseboat film”, and eventually met filmmaker Saul Rouda and star Joe Tate.
For more information…
Bill Daniel’s Website is located here.
A great interview conducted by Mike Plante for Cinemad is here.
A link to Daniel’s Texas Punk Pioneers photo project is here. Pictures from 1980 to 1984 from punk shows mostly in Austin Texas.