The Lowell Sun Sunday, January 5, 2003
Sunday/Style Section

Got a minute? If you do, says Groton filmmaker Nate Longcope, record
it for the Revolving Museum's upcoming One Minute Video Festival
By Kathleen Deely, Sun Staff

In this fact-paced world of shrinking attention spans, is watching a minute-long movie too much to ask? Nate Longcope thinks not. The Groton artist says 60 seconds is the perfect length for budding film-makers to try their hand at movie-making. That's why he's launching one of Lowell's first film festivals this March.

The One Minute Video Festival, which will be held at Evos Arts and sponsored by the Revolving Museum, is the venue for frustruated directors or screenwriters who lack a budget or even a storyline, to show their stuff.

"The point is to get people communicating in these little enclaves. Through all these advances in technology and media, we don't have to be so isolated," said Longcope, who's 28.

The animator, who grew up in Harvard, graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute, where he made a splash on the city's art scene. In one installation in a downtown gallery, he projected psychedelic images on a window 24 hours a day. When he moved to New York in 2001 to start a career in films, his first day on the job was Sept. 11. The terrorist attacks that devastated the city also stifled his prospects.

"It was bad times on top of a bad economy," that brought him back to his father's home in Groton. Itching to return to the art world, he sent resumes to museums across New England. Jerry Beck of the Revolving Museum was the only one who bit. When Longcope told Beck about his idea to start a one-minute film festival - which had been kicking around in his head since he saw a similiar show in Amsterdam - Beck enthusiastically jumped on board.

"The idea of capturing an image or idea in one minute is great, I mean I am a very impatient person, to see a whole variety of movies that are a minute long is like a smorgasbord of appetizers," said Beck, who is submitting his own entry.

This fall, Longcope taught art at the Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School and encouraged his students to enter films in the festival. He helped a 19-year old girl edit and transfer a black-and-white cartoon from the 1920's set to a hip-hop song, which will be screened at the festival. Introducing students to video production will help fuel the creative spirit in the area and make the show thrive, he hopes.

"It's really about getting these kids into the community and telling them 'you can be an artist,'" he said.

Longcope recently received a grant in conjunction with Lowell Telecommunication Corp., and the Revolving Museum to teach video production at community centers in the city. That should give the festival more staying power, he said. "This for me is a barometer of what's out there. I expect there will be a giant learning curve."

He envisions the festival becoming an annual or semi-annual, which should entice more artists and would-be artists into the fold. "Seeing others expressing themselves gets you interested," he said.

The fesitval's headquarters is Massatucky Productions, a video and "art making" company Longcope started with two friends. In a converted barn in the country he will edit and transfer them on a DVD. He has already received 15 videos so far from far-flung artists in Kansas, Ontario, and Amsterdam - he is shooting for 45. Submissions are open until the end of this month.

The criteria are wide-open. Submissions can be animation, documentaries, music videos - anything goes. Longcope's agenda is to put freedom back into the creative process, something that he said gets lost in films with big budgets and almost anything he sees on television.

"TV is so limited. There are so many stories that need to be told, but are never told. I think advertising has co-opted the avant-garde."

Longcope describes the minute film genre as "DIY" (Do It Yourself) - a "blue collar look at art making."

It may not become the next Sundance, nut the One Minute Video FEstival is guaranteed to be offbeat. "We might give out awards. I don't know yet. It will be goofy and fun," he said.

After the March 7th show, the festival will travel to Flywheel, an arts collective in Easthampton, then New York, San Francisco, and possibly abroad. It will run on local cable access throughout the year. To set the cinematic vibe, Evos will be decorated with movie paraphernalia salvaged from Lowell's old movie houses.

"It's cool to be in Lowell now. It seems like a lot of people are on the same page artistically," Longcope said.

© 2003 Massatucky Productions