Guy Lochhead, 08/12/10
Top Value Television (TVTV) was a San Francisco-based video collective founded in 1971 whose satirical/serious video journalism pioneered the comic documentary and later ‘mockumentary’ styles. Their approach to filmmaking was outlined in co-founder Michael Shamberg’s 1971 manifesto ‘Guerrilla Television’. He writes that they wanted to “demonstrate the potential of decentralized video technology”. They used the new affordability and portability of video production equipment and a DIY spirit to make factual films that weren’t constrained by their broadcaster’s political line or ideology. After disbanding in 1979, members of the collective went on to successful careers in a wide range of disciplines. This group made independent, hilarious and pretty scary (combo breaker!) films about Real Stuff, yeeears before Christopher Guest, Chris Morris, Jeff Krulik etc.. They saw the potential of new technology to popularise their message in a subversive form that further underlined it (they often made films about the perils of passiveness and top-down leadership). I think the use of the word “demonstrate” in Shamberg’s manifesto is crucial, and sums up the active, forward-thinking approach they took to Getting Things Done. I will include a copy of Shamberg’s manifesto inside a VHS/DVD/other collection of their work (currently non-existent but SURELY it has to happen at some point). This group are waaay too overlooked given the influence they’ve had on modern filmmaking.

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