Detail View: Ken and Flo Jacobs Collection: Jacobs, Ken - discusses early filmmaking

Collection Name: 
Ken and Flo Jacobs Collection
Jacobs, Ken - discusses early filmmaking
Jacobs, Ken, 1933-
Jacobs, Flo
Resource Type: 
Date Created: 
ca. 1980s-1990s
Language Term: 
sound cassette; 01:33:46
Form URI:
Title from tape container, date approximate. Talk given by Ken Jacobs regarding his early filmmaking. Features screening of Perfect Film. Topics include: non-commercial filmmaking and funding, Star Spangled to Death, counterculture of the 1960s, Bob Fleischner and Jack Smith, embarrassment in art, and Blonde Cobra. Jacobs tells story of defacing subway posters with Jack Smith.
Audio recordings in this collection may contain discussions around sensitive topics like race, gender, class, religion, and ability. Some of the language used and opinions shared in these recordings do not reflect the current preferred terminology of individuals of marginalized identities, or the values and norms of the University Libraries.
Note Type: 
segement sequence
00:00:10 Audio begins with Ken discussing issues during the development of his film including finding a composer and no market for poetic observational film. 00:01:11 Ken discusses the influence of the Dutch painter Bruegel on his film. 00:01:58 Discusses feeling compromised and feeling like he must love the film and how that relates to the meaning of the film. 00:02:34 Ken discusses insight into a scene of him kissing woman shot by Helen Becker. 00:03:41 Ken discusses the sound mechanics of middle section of his film. 00:04:10 Ken discusses meeting Bob Fleischner and Jack Smith and shooting film with them. Mentions AIDS. 00:06:24 Ken begins discussing Star Spangled to Death. 00:06:50 Discusses Bob Fleishner's film, shot after Star Spangled to Death in 1959. He also discusses Bob and Jack's falling out during the filming. 00:09:02 Ken Discusses being given rolls of film by Bob and the film Ken made with them. Ken describes the film as an imaginative documentary film about Jack's life. 00:10:40 Discussion about the time, little dialogue, banging noises. 00:11:37 Discussions regarding the narration and character work of the film which was done by Jack Smith. 00:11:55 Ken discusses the improvisational nature and the "1960s let-it-hang out" aesthetic of the film. 00:13:36 Someone asks Ken about having any outline for the film. Ken talks about Bob and Jack's repeated motifs in the nemesis character, the nun story, and the science fiction element. He discusses making a story out of what was missing from the film he had and what Bob and Jack imbued into their shots. 00:16:07 Ken discussions of images without sound or sound without images and what that means in his film and why he does that in his film. Ken mentions trying to think in Jack's style, as well as in his own. 00:18:10 Ken discusses recording Jack's voice for the film. 00:19:08 Ken discusses the records included in the film including Arabic records and how Jack would improvise off Ken's 78 rpm shellac records. 00:20:00 Still discussing music, Ken mentions the Mother Superior Dream of Purity track where he uses the strings of a piano like a harp and Jack improvises over that. 00:20:23 Someone asks Ken if he had any idea what story he wanted to tell when recording the sound. Ken says no and discusses the process. 00:21:08 Ken discusses reactions to the film: too heavy and dramatic, and embarrassing. Ken mentions that Bob and Jack never mentioned the film. 00:22:11 Ken is asked about Flaming Creatures and he discusses Bleecker Street Cinema's The Underground Films and the state of underground films generally. 00:23:41 Ken recalls anecdotes of Jack including him and Jack redesigning advertising on the subway with erasers and crayons. 00:24:50 Getting Perfect Film prepared. 00:25:00 Discussing the sound mixing for the film was done after it was cut. 00:25:41 Ken goes back to discussing the critiques of his films. He calls these critiques delirious and explains why he thinks so. 00:26:57 Ken provides context to the film Perfect Film. 00:29:00 Audio from film plays. Interview with pressperson in auditorium when Malcolm X was shot. 00:31:15 Pressperson asked how many shots they heard. They couldn't give an accurate number. 00:31:45 Asked if they saw the person who fired the gun. The pressperson could not identify anyone. 00:33:08 Asking another person about the shooting of Malcolm X. Discusses the assassination. 00:35:02 Interviewer asks Police Officer about happened. Police Officer states that at 3:15pm around 400 people representing the Afro-American Unity Organization were present for Malcolm X's talk when two men shot at him from close range. Discusses types of guns mentioning pistols and a sawed-off shotgun. 00:37:11 Interviewer and police officer discuss aftermath of shooting and injuries to others including William Harris and William Parker. 00:38:20 They discuss having two men in custody and that there were no uniform police in attendance. 00:38:43 Discussions regarding a skirmish that took place before. 00:38:57 Discussion regarding eyewitnesses. 00:39:17 Interviewer asks about suspects again. 00:39:30 Interviewer asks if the police officer knows if the suspects are "black Muslims." [No discernable audio] 00:42:43 [Audio cuts in and out] 00:43:22 Audio recording of someone discussing the events of the shooting. [Audio cuts in and out] 00:49:00 Student asks Ken if what they saw was exactly how it was on the reel. Ken boosted the audio of one reel but did no other editing. 00:49:28 A student asks what year that was. Ken answers between 1965-1967. 00:50:02 Ken discusses these reels being outtakes of the news. 00:50:23 Ken discusses the similar form and style between the film Perfect Film and Blonde Cobra. 00:50:45 Ken discusses found footage, with no editing, as a means of storytelling. He mentions images broadcast on PBS from 1910 of an Arab Bazaar with music dubbed over it. Warns listeners to beware of audio that is telling the audience something different from what they are seeing. 00:52:54 Discussions regarding Tim Asch, an anthropological filmmaker, and the aspects of that kind of filmmaking. 00:55:00 Continuing discussions regarding anthropological filmmaking. 00:56:05 Discussions turns to film documenting the holocaust that includes music and narration that tells people how to feel instead of letting the viewer just feel. 00:56:50 Discussions of next film The Doctor's Dream. 00:57:12 Ken takes another question regarding how important it is to Ken for his audience to know that he did little editing and that his films are as close to exactly as he found the film. 00:59:19 Introduces The Doctor's Dream. 01:01:53 Audio from film begins. A man and woman are speaking they appear to be married there is also a child. The film is a made for television tv-show film reel. 01:26:02 Audio of The Doctor's Dream ends. 01:26:20 Ken discusses that the original film was called The Doctor based on a painting of the same title. He discusses finding the film on Canal Street and his editorial processes. He discusses how he "tampered" with this film by recutting it and starting with the middle shot and the impact that has or doesn't have on the narrative. 01:28:10 Discusses what the film is about says it's at dirty as Blonde Cobra. 00:29:00 Discussion of how manipulative the sound of the film is. 01:29:19 Discusses film continuity, taboo material, and subliminal messaging. 01:30:48 Discusses how he cut the film again. 01:31:11 Discusses how the sound was cut along with the shots. 01:32:12 Ending comments. Ken invites class to a performance of his.
Subject Topic: 
Motion pictures--Production and direction
Subject Topic: 
Documentary-style films
Subject Topic: 
Sound recordings
Subject Topic: 
Motion pictures--Editing
Subject Name: 
Fleischner, Bob, 1930 - 1989
Subject Name: 
Smith, Jack, 1932-1989
Subject Name: 
X, Malcolm, 1925-1965
Subject Name: 
Asch, Timothy
Subject Name: 
Bruegel, Pieter, approximately 1525-1569
Subject Geographic: 
[Binghamton (Broome, New York, United States, North America) (populated place)]
Identifier ARK:
Physical Location: 
University of Colorado Boulder Libraries Rare and Distinctive Collections
Shelf Locator: 
COU 5063
Date Captured: 
Internet Media Type: 
Digital Origin: 
reformatted digital
Access Condition: 
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