10/26/23: Virtual Talks with Video Activists: Nick DeMartino

Join us for a virtual screening/discussion with early video pioneer Nick DeMartino, moderated by film scholar/filmmaker Carmine Grimaldi.

A full replay of the October 26 event.

At Media Burn, we’ve been particularly focused on the “Guerrilla Television” era of video not just because there was such an explosion of great, fascinating work, but because it was a time in which videomakers were concerned, above all, with creating new forms of media that had never existed before. The grand project of Guerrilla Television was nothing short than a total disruption of the community’s relationship to their TV sets: videomakers took their cameras out into the community and recorded, collaborated with, and trained the people who lived there. They wanted to make people active participants in the media that was beamed into their living rooms every day: to let actual real-life people talk and to get cameras into their hands.

Nick DeMartino was at the forefront of those efforts in Washington, D.C., where he co-founded Washington Community Video Center to produce videos about and by the local communities that the mainstream media willfully ignored. He became a very successful producer of independent television, bringing new and important perspectives to crucial topics like racism, housing, reproductive health, nuclear safety, and the media itself. At the same time, he spent years lobbying for access and funding for independent media. This program will reflect the remarkably broad and ambitious scope of DeMartino’s work in television and video.

Nick DeMartino

Nick DeMartino began a 50-year career in media and entertainment in 1970 as editor of the College Press Service in Washington, D.C. The group’s annual conference introduced him to both video and cable TV. He soon found his way to the Community Video Center at Federal City College, where he produced a videotape on cable TV organizing. In 1972 he co-founded the Washington Community Video Center, a storefront center in the heart of the multi-racial Adams-Morgan neighborhood as a prototype for a cable TV access center. WCVC produced tapes on topics like housing, health care, immigration, and gentrification. A print newsletter evolved into the influential national quarterly TeleVISIONS to chronicle media movements. The storefront closed in 1975 as cable TV development stalled, but TeleVISIONS continued through 1981. DeMartino founded the Coalition for New Public Affairs Programming in 1976 to lobby for access and funding on behalf of 20 leading US video groups. DeMartino’s public TV producing credits include So Far, So Good, The New Klan, Nuclear Power, Abortion, and Sitcom. He joined the staff of the Carnegie Commission, where he advocated a center for independent television and co-authored A Public Trust and Keeping PACE with the New Television. In 1982 he joined Larry Kirkman to create the Labor Institute of Public Affairs at the AFL-CIO. In 1990 DeMartino began a 20-year stint at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, developing programs at the intersection of Silicon Valley and Hollywood. After leaving AFI in 2010, he consulted with producers, nonprofits, and startups on internet media, retiring in 2020 to write a memoir.

Carmine Grimaldi

Carmine Grimaldi is a filmmaker and a historian of media, currently teaching at Vanderbilt University. In both his creative and academic work, he is particularly interested in the way that aesthetic experience inflects everyday life. His films have screened at venues such as True/False, Visions du Reel, The Museum of the Moving Image, Maryland FF, Sheffield Doc/Fest, RIDM, Chicago International FF, Camden, and Dokufest, where he received the prize for best short film. In 2017, he was named one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine, and has been a fellow at the Sensory Ethnography Lab, Harvard’s Film Study Center, and the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Center for the Humanities. In addition to his filmmaking, he researches and writes about the history of early video technology, focusing on the period before video became a mainstay in the world of art and documentary, when various researchers experimented with the technology in places like classrooms and psychiatric clinics. His article on the subject, “Televising Psyche: Feedback, Style, and the Seductiveness of Video,” was published in Representations; his work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books, The Intercept, The Atlantic, MUBI Notebook, and Filmmaker Magazine.

This event is free to attend. Media Burn is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and we depend on donations to continue our work. Please consider making a donation along with your ticket signup, or at https://mediaburn.org/donate or by texting MEDIABURN to 44321



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