Squall 11, Autumn 1995, pg. 43.
Brighton based Conscious Cinema are producing monthly video round-ups of protest and social justice activity up and down the country. Inspired by Smallworld’s Undercurrents, the footage is aimed mainly at activists rather than punters to keep different groups informed of what their justice-hungry colleagues are up to.
According to Kevin Doyle, overworked video activist, Conscious Cinema will complement the more analytical biannual output of Undercurrents; but the intention is to give an immediate update, and alternative angle from the mainstream media, while an item is still “news”.
The video is available on loan with the expectation that it will be shown in a communal venue, such as someone’s front room or church hall. Hopefully the showing will be followed by a discussion and donations to pay for the video. Conscious Cinema is currently funded out of the team’s generous unemployment allowance and as Squall goes to press mailing has been suspended until Giro day.
“We’re trying to get away from people going out, buying a video, saying I’m glad I’ve seen that and putting it on a shelf,” says Kevin.
The Conscious Cinema team are also addressing the environmental impact of their endeavours. Taken out on loan, the video has to be returned so that the next bulletin can be recorded over the last.
“Video technology is toxic and horrible,” says Kevin, “and I refuse to be responsible for that. All the tapes we use have been skipped. Because the items go out of date so quickly there is no problem with recording over the last one. If people don’t send the video back they don’t get the next one. That’s not a threat, but if they don’t come back we have nothing to put the next video on.”
It is the activists themselves who put their own films together. Conscious Cinema have a basic, easy to use, editing suite which they train activists to use.
The group are also aiming to be as diverse as possible. Because of it’s immediacy the production is not as polished as Undercurrents. But a little roughness around the edges is to be expected with immediate information.
The first video included footage on open cast mining, Mumia Abu Jamal, the Battle of the Beanfield and the alternative VE Day celebrations. Number two included a piece on Joy Gardner and Brian Douglas, how to point out to supermarkets that French goods are no longer fashionable and a little bit of road protesting.
Part of Conscious Cinema’s intent is to establish the link between all forms of social justice; civil rights, environmentalism and racism. They currently have black groups filming in London, and the Joy Gardner, Brian Douglas and Mumia Abu Jamal pieces are intended to make the connection between the death penalty and its insidious presence in this country.
“We’re trying to show how everything is connected, it all works together,” says Kevin. “We’re trying to get across that people have to change things themselves. There is no point voting.”
Videos are available by writing or e-mailing
Conscious Cinema at:
PO Box 2679, Brighton. BN2 1UJ
Full back issues are also available on request. Donations are positively encouraged.