Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rebirth Of An American Icon

It is no secret the great icon of America's love affair with the automobile, the ubiquitous drive-in, has gone the way of the VCR, single 78's, and the rotary phone. But, in fringe outposts around the country, namely Santa Cruz and Westchester, PA, guerrilla impresarios, film geeks, and unemployed techies with too much time on their hands are trying to revive the drive-in.

The most famous guerilla drive-in hotspot, Santa Cruz, lists a full schedule of summer movies. Not to be outdone, People Power offers the guerilla bike-in to showcase a bicycle film festival.

Budding as a potential movement, guerilla drive-in's seeks to reclaim public spaces and industrial wastelands for showing films. They can be projected anywhere with a large blank wall.

Guerilla drive-ins, or GDI, uses portable DVD players, generators, LCD projectors, and low-power transmitters. The Wechester GDI is low-cost, less than the price of a prosumer videocamera, easily transported, even by bicycles, and very counter-culture chic. It's logo is Che Guevera in 3D glasses. Sweet.

In it's purest form, GDI operators do not ask for permission to display their wares. Some operators do not even bother to secure exhibition rights from copyright holders.

That has rangled both the police and the lawyers. The police get involved when a citizen makes a complaint. Understandably, the lawyers get involved when exhitibion rights are not secured.

According to Michael Bergman, a Los Angeles-based entertainment lawyer, "Projecting a rented DVD onto the side of a building, where anybody who wants to can come and watch it, is certainly a violation of the copyright act."

But, that has not stop the movement, with the potential to provide an alternate venue for indie filmmakers to create that all important buzz. It has not escaped notice by producers and distributors.

A Los Angeles filmmaker, Lawrence Bridges, used guerrilla drive-ins to get around traditional distribution networks. His staff spent a year sneaking onto parking lots and projecting his film against a wall on Saturday nights in Dallas, LA, and New York City.