From Portapak To Camcorder: A Brief History Of Guerrilla Television
by Deirdre Boyle
The Future of Independent Media
By Andrew Blau
In From Portapack to Camcorder a Brief History of Guerilla Television author Deirdre Boyle chronicles the emergence of independent media, beginning in 1965 when video equipment became accessible and portable. The advent of this new, portable video equipment meant that anyone could become politically and socially engaged, and challenge the information infrastructure (Boyle).
Out of this new freedom several underground video groups emerged as leaders of the underground video movement. Videofreex, People's Video Theater, Global Village, and Raindance Corporation were among those providing research and development strategies.
By the 1970’s underground video had matured into a more polished movement, with an outlined plan to decentralize television so that people had better access to create and broadcast their own content. (Boyle) Around the same time, federal rules mandated for public access television stations to be provided by cable systems and federal funding became available for video from government and private sources.
The competitive struggle for funding ultimately divided the underground video movement into two factions; community access advocates and guerilla television producers. TVTV was one of the guerilla television groups to come out of the split, making history by covering the 1972 political conventions. The portable equipment they used gave them freedom and access to move about the convention catching many off guarded moments among convention goers that was both informative and entertaining.
Community access and guerrilla television continued to grow and evolve throughout the seventies, and faced adversity in the 1980’s from a new trend in conservatism that affected their sources of funding and forced video makers to discover new directions.
Currently, community access and guerilla television producers and video activists face even more adversity in securing funding and support for community access television, but despite opposition from politicians and government, and in some cases low interest from the communities they serve, they continue to strive for an atmosphere of freedom and open dialogue available to all who wish to participate.
The Future of Independent Media, by Andre Blau takes the story of independent media from where it has been to where it is heading. Blau claims that media is moving into an era of unprecedented flexibility and opportunity. The technologies available to video advocates are constantly becoming better, cheaper and more widely available.
A higher value is being placed on independent film and media, with cable channels like IFC and Sundance devoted to bringing independent products to the cable audience. In addition to rapidly evolving technology we have access to, there is a communal aspect to watching media that our new technology greatly enhances. The ability to watch a documentary on television and then be able to log onto the corresponding website allows for a far greater level of audience participation and empowers viewers and enhances democratic values.
Because of the higher value being placed on independent media projects, and the constantly changing technology it is uncertain where the future of independent media lies. The flow of ideas and communications will converge to take it to the next level of development in the field of independent media.
Blau, A. The Future of Independent Media.
Boyle, D. From Portapack to Camcorder a Brief History of Guerilla Television.