The Millennium Film Workshop was founded in 1967 by a group of filmmakers with a vision to expand accessibility to the tools, ideas, and networks of filmmaking beyond the confines of institutions and corporate studios. Millennium has put on countless educational workshops, artist-hosted screenings, printed our renowned publication The Millennium Film Journal, served as a production hub kickstarting the careers of many prominent filmmakers such as Stan Brakhage, Todd Haynes, Yvonne Rainer, Carolee Schneeman, Michael Snow, Bruce Connor, Nick Zedd, Andy Warhol and Bruce Connor and has played a large role in dismantling the monetary and educational barriers separating the art and craft of filmmaking from the general public.
The Millennium Film Workshop was one of a group of arts workshops set up from 1965-66 on the Lower East Side by St. Marks Church and the New School as part of the federal government’s anti-poverty program. Filmmaker Ken Jacobs was chosen as the first director, and in 1966, he set up Sunday afternoon showings at the church – mostly one-person programs open to any filmmaker with a body of work. Jacobs also launched “open screenings,” where he led discussions between filmmakers and the audience. In May 1967, the organization became independent, incorporating as Millennium Film Workshop, Inc. and moved to a building now used by Anthology Film Archives. At the time, the building was an old courthouse. Classes in cinematography, sound, and editing were taught. Following the move to the old courthouse, the organization moved to various locations in lower Manhattan, including a loft space on Great Jones Street, but it finally found a home at 66 East 4th Street in 1974. It remained at that location for 39 years, before leaving in June 2013 due to rising rent. Since then, Millennium has offered classes and screenings in collaboration with various non-profits, in venues around Manhattan and Brooklyn. In 1971, filmmaker Howard Guttenplan took the role of Executive Director and held the position until 2011. Guttenplan broadened the workshop's field by inviting foreign filmmakers from Britain, Germany, France, Hungary, Poland, Japan, and other regions to make their American debuts at Millennium.
"Brief History of the Personal Cinema Series" by Howard Guttenplan provides a concise summary of Millennium's early history. Although this first person account does not provide an origin date, it was likely drafted during the winter of 1970-71.
Grahame Weinbren is a pioneer of interactive cinema. His installations have been exhibited internationally since 1985. His documentaries and experimental films have been widely screened since the late 70s, when he and Roberta Friedman had their first collaborative solo show . . . at the Millennium Film Workshop on East 4th Street. Weinbren has published and lectured for over three decades on philosophical and aesthetic issues in the still and moving image and media art. He is the senior editor of the Millennium Film Journal and a member of the graduate faculty of the School of Visual Arts in New York.
In connection with Millennium Film Workshop’s historical archive acquisition, MOMA Chief Film Curator, Rajendra Roy, stated that “Millennium has been central to the film culture of New York since the nineteen-sixties, and so important to those of us who have benefited from its programs.”
Writing in the New York Times, art critic Amy Taubin noted on the Millennium Film Workshop’s legacy “it is in the hundreds of films and videos that were made thanks to cheap access to Millennium’s equipment, and in the thousands of viewers who were inspired by nearly 40 years of experimental movie screenings.”
To offer the non-commercial film artist – of whatever experience or proven degree of proficiency, and without interference in either film subject or style – the use without cost, or at minimal cost, of the tools of filmmaking, instruction in filmmaking, and a means of contacting others of like creative interest.
Executive Director, Millennium Film Workshop.1969-2011
Howard H. Guttenplan was the Executive Director of the Millennium Film Workshop from 1969 until 2011. Under Howard's leadership, the organization flourished and provided affordable resources for generations of filmmakers. It would be impossible to envision MFW without Howard's lifelong commitment. As the Workshop moves into a new era, we will continue to honor Howard's dedication to the non-commercial film artist.
Howard H. Guttenplan obituary, New York Times
Founder & Executive Director, Millennium Film Workshop.1966-1968
"In the late 1960s...Ken went through an awesome experience, but one that brought him recognition. He was appointed to create a workshop for filmmakers on the lower east side, as part of a government project. He named it "The Millennium Film Workshop," and in the hands of such an artist as Ken Jacobs it was shaped into a functional existence of which the present Millennium Film Workshop is a third- or fourth-generation descendant. It was a beautiful and powerful institution...
"Stan Brakhage, from Film At Wit's End