OUR HISTORY AND FUTURE
For over fifty years, Millennium Film Workshop has served as a world renowned
center for independent experimental film production and exhibition. Founded by
filmmaker Ken Jacobs in 1966, Millennium Film Workshop was based in lower
Manhattan and served as a world renowned center of independent experimental film
production and exhibition. Millennium is both a distinguished venue for leading
experimental film artists and a community-based media arts organization dedicated
to providing low-cost equipment rental and training programs. These two distinctive
aspects of Millennium made it unique among media arts organizations.
In 1969, filmmaker Howard Guttenplan assumed the role of Executive Director and
held the position until 2011. Guttenplan was a visionary who transformed Millennium
into a leading workshop and showcase for experimental filmmakers. In 1974
Guttenplan moved Millennium to 66 East 4th Street in the East Village. It remained at
that location for 39 years.
During the Guttenplan era, Millennium offered five major programs and services,
including the Personal Cinema Series, the Workshop Program, Equipment Access
Service, the Millennium Film Journal and the Millennium Gallery. Guttenplan also
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. Under Guttenplan’s direction, Millennium’s Personal Cinema series
became one of the leading venues for experimental film exhibition in the world.
The Personal Cinema Series included one-person programs in which the artist
discussed his or her work with the audience. The series also included curated group
shows. Yet another feature of the series were “open screenings” that allowed any
member of the audience to screen his or her work. Guttenplan strongly believed that
open screenings were vital to Millennium’s mission of fostering an artistic community
and helping to develop new film artists through eliminating the traditional barriers to
entry and providing audiences who were receptive to new work. Artists who were
given the opportunity to mount their first one-person shows at Millennium include
Hollis Frampton, Clayton Patterson, Jennifer Reeves, Donna Cameron, Bill Morrison,
Fred Worden, M.M. Serra, Todd Haynes, Vivienne Dick, Holly Fisher, Sharon
Greytak, Lewis Klahr and Su Friedrich.
Other leading experimental filmmakers whose work was regularly featured at
Millennium include Stan Brakhage, Jack Smith, Diane Bonder and Mike and George
Kuchar. In particular, Brakhage was a passionate supporter of Millennium for thirty
years. Many of his most acclaimed films had their premiere at Millennium.
Millennium’s film exhibitions were complemented by its production workshops.
Millennium offered film courses and low-cost equipment rental. Instructors included
Alan Berliner, Su Friedrich, Barbara Hammer, Paul Sharits, Jud Yalkut, Ross
McLaren, Jennifer Reeves, Kelly Spivey, Noël Carroll, Nisi Jacobs, Rachel Shuman,
and Jon Jost. Workshop topics include optical printing, Final Cut Pro editing,
Steenbeck editing, 16mm and 8mm film and digital video.
The Workshop Program made its equipment available to prominent independent
filmmakers and to fledging experimental filmmakers. Millennium also provided access
to screening rooms, editing facilities, and film/video production equipment. Oliver
Stone, Joie Lee, Jim Jarmusch and Susan Seidelman were members and equipment
users. Andy Warhol used the editing rooms in the 1960s, and Jean-Luc Godard used
the screening room services in the 1980s. Other participants in the Workshop
Program included including James Benning, Bruce Conner, Todd Haynes, Yvonne
Rainer, Carolee Schneemann and Michael Snow.
Millennium’s hub of production and exhibition activity also extended to film criticism
and scholarship. The Millennium Film Journal was established in 1978 and continues
to be published today. The Journal has a worldwide circulation.The journal is
currently overseen by senior editor Grahame Weinbren. Notable authors from the
Journal's history include Paul Arthur, Mike Hoolbloom, J. Hoberman, Fred Camper, Joan Copjec, David James, A. L. Rees, Mary Ann Doane, Birgit Hein, Chris Hill,
Vivian Sobchack, Scott MacDonald, Amy Taubin, Noël Carroll, and P. Adams Sitney.
After nearly fifty years of service to Millennium and to the independent film
community, Howard Guttenplan died in 2015. The New York Times, in its obituary,
quoted him as saying that Millennium’s constant goal was to offer “very personal films
by individuals working without large crews or budgets with the same kind of
independence as a painter or a poet.” In the same obituary, Amy Taubin, a prominent
film critic, wrote that Guttenplan’s legacy “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.”
In the succeeding years Millennium operated without a permanent home and was
able to continue to provide its unique mix of programs and services through
collaborations with other nonprofit organizations. And during the pandemic
Millennium operated with 100 percent on-line programming.
In 2022 we have taken the decisive step of moving to a new permanent home on Wilson Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn -- and ramping up our programs and services in order to take full advantage of our new location and our new facility. Millennium is committed to keeping alive the vision of its founders by offering a broad range of services and activities to a community of emerging and established media artists at the lowest possible cost.
"The Millennium Film Workshop and Anthology Film Archives were the experimental Meccas where I cut my teeth between 1972 and 1975. As a newcomer to NYC both impresarios, Howard Guttenplan and Jonas Mekas, were extremely generous in their way to young filmmakers trying to make their own mark. It was at the Millennium where I was introduced to the work of Ken Jacobs, Chris Eckoff, Tony Conrad, Birgit Hein, Michael Snow, Jack Smith, Stan Brakhage, Yvonne Rainer and many others."- Amos Poe, 2021
SENIOR EDITOR of MILLENNIUM FILM JOURNAL,
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. 2015-2022
Joey Huertas was the Executive Director of the Millennium Film Workshop from 2015 until 2022. Joey took leadership of the Workshop during a time of great difficulty for the organization following the chaos in the aftermath of the death of Howard Guttenplan. The DIY, do-or-die punk ethos Joey brought to the Workshop's activities (including his long-running Hijack! Open Screening series) proved to be just the ethic needed to bring Millennium out of the woods and back into prominence and stability in the world of experimental film, and rescued Millennium from oblivion, ushering in a new era.
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