Before there was The Media Foundation there was Psychomedia Productions, an underground film collective that ran its wild dog-and-pony show out of the same Vancouver address that now churns out Adbusters. Just spitting distance from where Greenpeace midwifed the environmental justice movement, and a young Georgia Straight arts editor named Bob Geldof jacked into the electric countercultural scene that was Vancouver in the Seventies, Psychomedia strode the boards like a holy fool.
This was the first North American brain fart of Adbusters founding editor Kalle Lasn, who would go on to steer Buy Nothing Day and Occupy Wall Street. But this was before any of that was even a dream. This was pure spray-and-pray experimental art — the hairy missing link between the National Film Board shorts and the longer, fictional sizzlers coming out of Los Angeles and Europe. On Saturday Nights, hundreds of artsies, hippies, justice warriors and folks just truckin’ thru would gather in the basement of 1243 7th Ave to see what weird shit these rogue independent filmies had hatched in the night. You bought a beverage – homemade beer that gave everyone the trots – pulled up a beanbag, lit a dart and then settled in and marvelled at the creative bug juice splashing off the screen.
Film is “the truth twenty-four times a second,” Godard once said. Did Psychomedia deliver on that promise? Decide for yourself. On this page is a sampler of some of the work from that era. It was rediscovered only recently in a basement vault that survived the fire that burned the original house down. Each short film will give you a hint of the raucous spirit of the time, and a peek at the hive mind of a bunch of ruffians who meant business — except that the business was to rewire brains and spread joy.
Be warned, though: watching them with today’s eyes may cause a lot of emotions to roll over you at once. (Don’t operate heavy machinery for the rest of the day.) It may make you pine for the days when The Left was setting the tone, breaking all the right rules and having all the fun.
Where did that spirit go?
That, friends, is a film for another day.