Craig Baldwin

b. 1952, Oakland, California, USA

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Craig Baldwin considers his work “underground” rather than “experimental” or “avant-garde”. Whereas the avant-garde is primarily concerned with formal exercise, and “experimental” implies some experiment (i.e. that something new is being tried for the purpose of determining whether of not it can expand the limits of cinematic language), “underground” would encompass not only formal plasticity but a political dimension; that of an oppositional subculture.

As such, Craig Baldwin’s films have formal concerns as well as some kind of political commentary, usually concerning the exploitation of countries and people under imperialism, capitalist or otherwise. Even when he is inventing the oppression (as in the alien presence of Tribulation 99 [1991]) it is either a metaphor for a real-world situation or it is combined with verifiable history. The aliens of Tribulation 99 may come from the destroyed planet Quetzalcoatl, for example, but they are apparently working with Kissinger to subject local populations in Central America. The science fiction and the fact are intertwined.

Baldwin’s work is most easily characterised by his use of recontextualised film elements, primarily drawn from his vast library of what Rick Prelinger, his fellow archivist and collector, calls “ephemeral films” – educational and industrial films chiefly made in the period between 1945 and 1975. These, along with a healthy dose of science fiction and period dramas, make the pool from which Baldwin draws. As libraries and schools began to renovate their A/V departments in the 1980s and 1990s, an avalanche of outdated materials became available, and the creative possibilities seemed obvious to the young director.

Craig Baldwin was born in Oakland, California, in 1952. He began making Super-8 movies when he was a teenager – the kind of skit-oriented parody films involving friends and neighbours. He was drawn into the practice of collage rather naively; he was interested in cheap and readily available Super-8 dubs of Hollywood B-movies that were for sale in the ’60s and ’70s. From these he would assemble compilations, mixing and matching scenes from various productions to create new stories. He made them for his own enjoyment, but it became the basis for his process in subsequent years.

Later, Baldwin attended several universities, dabbling in various disciplines (notably theatre), but always somehow gravitating towards film. These schools included U.C. Davis, U.C. Santa Barbara, and finally San Francisco State. At SFSU Baldwin was fortunate enough to take studio classes with film collage master Bruce Conner, who was teaching there at the time.

The following are Baldwin’s released film works, in chronological order.

Stolen Movie (1976)

To make this film, the 24 year-old Baldwin would run into movie theatres with his super-8 camera and shoot what he could off the screen, pre-dating the current practice of bootlegging feature films with camcorders. This was as much performance art/action as it was any kind of film document, and the piece, though perhaps extant, isn’t in circulation like the rest of Baldwin’s work. The director himself describes it as a kind of prank (1) – interesting for the implications and the direction of his development more so than as a film in and of itself.

The academic, political underpinnings of his later work are mostly absent here, possibly because his political consciousness was still developing, but his physical process – recombining already finished films, relying on material readily available either at a low cost or for free – is evident.

This film is an early exercise, and its inclusion here is in the interests of establishing the director’s development.

Wild Gunman (1978)

Wild Gunman

This film is a meditation on the Marlboro Man, a compilation of images and associations designed to deconstruct this image of masculinity and consumer addiction. Not only the Man himself, but the entire myth of the cowboy and the West are its targets.

The film veers from heavily-manipulated optical printer work to straight advertising footage from commercials and B-movies. Though there is no “history” (which is the basis for his subsequent films) the style that characterises all his work is firmly in place. The combination of social satire/deconstruction and recovered film images is used as a detournement – a Situationist attack against the oppression of corporate advertising.

Wild Gunman is available as a film print from Canyon Cinema, (2) where it is a popular rental. It may be possible to find it on VHS. (3)

RocketKitKongoKit (1986) (4)

This is the first of Baldwin’s imagined histories, or, as he puts it, “prank documentaries.” On the surface RocketKitKongoKit is the true story of a German rocket firm leasing land in the Congo (then called “Saire” under Mobutu’s reign), for testing rockets. The larger implications, that of Europe’s colonial attitude towards Africa in the 1960s and the exploitation of its people for a program the Europeans didn’t want in their own backyard, is not an entirely inaccurate one. History is, of course, highly malleable, and interpretations of any event can continue for decades – especially with relatively recent and well-documented events. The direct links between the ESA’s rocket program and deteriorating conditions in Africa are made more forcefully than would a more conservative historian, and the information is presented with the authority and integrity the documentary form affords.

Of course the film is also quite funny, pairing up news items from the 1960s with schlock science fiction rocket ships blasting to Mars. The result is a kind of pseudo-documentary, in which all of the re-enactments are unconnected to the material presented.

Baldwin is reminded of the spurious documentaries he saw in general cinema release when he was younger. Harald Reini’s 1970 film Chariots of the Gods? was one such work, in which the lines between the historical artifacts – undeniably extant and available for study – and the fanciful interpretation – enforced by questionable “experts” and wild half-baked theories that connect vague notions – create what appears to be a cogent and irrefutable hypothesis. Reini’s and Baldwin’s film are each about how human beings process information and the authority of presentations.

Once again, from the director: “…my project is to liquidate distinctions between official and unofficial history.” (5) This includes folk history, perceived history, personal history and the extrapolated history of cinema objects retrieved from the archive. The goal is not an authoritative verisimilitude, but rather multiple points of view.

One is reminded of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, David Wilson’s Los Angeles-based museum about museums, the exhibits of which constantly call into question the authority of museum exhibits. (6) Though Baldwin discovered Wilson’s work fairly recently, they share the fascination with the presentation of history or “truth”. Curiously, the authority of Baldwin’s history of the Congo is somehow strengthened by the presentation – even though that presentation includes spacemen conquering galaxies.

Tribulation 99 (1991)

The film’s full title, Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America – the Shocking Truth About the Coming Apocalypse, pretty much tells it all. Whereas the situation in the Congo appealed to Baldwin politically and socially, the events in Tribulation are manufactured almost entirely from the source material.

In fact, the filmmaker likens the process of creating a film like Tribulation to an excavation. It is the retrieval of film-objects from the archives he maintains that lead to the film’s creation, not any script-writing or brainstorming process. It can take years to sort out the footage until a Tribulation seems to form itself out of the connections. (7)

Baldwin’s archive is not extensive. He claims it has only about 2500 film units. This may seem like quite a few, but compared to the stock footage company run by his friend Rick Prelinger, (8) Baldwin’s collection seems small.

Naturally, the development of a film like Tribulation starts with Baldwin’s taste in film, which leans towards B-movies, science fiction and ethnographic films. But the associative connections he draws in the trance-like state of poring through old footage is what gives Tribulation its form as well as its highly allegorical content. Every cut in a Craig Baldwin film is based on some kind of association or metaphor, and it is only when dozens, maybe hundreds of these metaphors come together that the shape of the film becomes apparent.

Consider the following frames, and how they work together:

Tribulation 99 Tribulation 99

This cut is merely associative, that of a star in one instance and another star in the following shot. The inverted nature of the first star is innocuous, but the Satanic implication of the second is clear. Because the film is constantly attempting to link geopolitical events to some kind of mystic, biblical or evil force, these constant associations engage a slow paranoia that creeps throughout the film. Though shots are often organised according to these simple associations, the chaining of dozens of little metaphors and associations, especially at Baldwin’s breakneck speed of editing, begins to take on a manic energy of its own.

Baldwin is thoroughly versed in the work of the Soviet Montage filmmakers from the 1920s, as one would suspect, and his editing style is largely based on the kinds of effects two juxtaposed shots will create. In the sorting process Baldwin develops strategies as well as connections between images.

Tribulation 99 Tribulation 99 Tribulation 99

At first glance the above seem to be examples from the trim bin marked “skeletons”. But more than that, Baldwin uses groupings of images that contribute to emotional responses in the viewer. A surplus of skeletons, as well as other threatening or fearful images dominate Tribulation 99. In addition to the occult, biblical, mystical, and pseudoscientific material this film aims to create a permeating haze of paranoia.

More effective is when the images onscreen are not linked to any particular context in the narration. For example:

Tribulation 99

This is how Fidel Castro appears in one scene of the film. An angry bearded man, this is a good enough sign for Castro, and since he is allegedly in league with voodoo priests, his unusual appearance is both amusing and somewhat plausible within the world of the film. In contrast, the images below do not necessarily correspond to any event in the narration:

Tribulation 99 Tribulation 99 Tribulation 99

These serve only to contribute to the creepy atmosphere. It is an emotional response to the image, not necessarily a studied, intellectual one that operates here.

Organised into 99 chapters, each with a terrifying title screaming out in full screen capital letters, (9) the structure of the film invokes both conspiracy theories and biblical texts. And yet a great deal of the narration in Tribulation describes a readily verifiable history of American intervention in Central America from the 1960s through the 1980s. It is mixed in with vampires, voodoo and killer robots, but it is there.

Tribulation 99

This is Baldwin’s first film with his frequent collaborator, Bill Daniel, who is credited with photography. Baldwin himself has claimed Daniel’s role is much more of an equal, as he is often involved in the editing stages of a project as well.

¡O No Coronado! (1992)

In this, another prank documentary, the disastrous conquest of the southwestern United States by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Vasques de Coronado is paired with efforts to dispose of nuclear waste material in the same area. The innovation here is that Baldwin has added his own footage to that which he found in his archive. This involved a brief “guerilla” shoot with a small crew out in the desert – a camera, a van and little more than a general idea what was needed.

Up until Coronado Baldwin was able to find all the ”cinematic gestures” (10) he wanted in found footage. With this project, he realised he was going to have to create some. The plan was rather simple: structuring the film would require certain gestures, and there was no way to determine them before the film was edited. So a variety of gestures would be captured, and they could be used when necessary.

¡O No Coronado! ¡O No Coronado!
1. Coronado unsheathes his sword. 2. Coronado looks off to the left
3. And to the right 4. A monk strikes the ground with his wooden cross (note modern city in background)
3. And to the right 4. A monk strikes the ground with his wooden cross (note modern city in background)
5. Coronado has a fever dream
5. Coronado has a fever dream

Baldwin seems to have opened his process to creating the gestures he could not find in the found footage. (11) As it turns out, these are the most surreal and striking images in the film. Baldwin’s sources for Coronado include a few stiff costume dramas and several animated maps showing the conquistador’s progress through the southwest. The nuclear waste dumping site footage is similarly dry.

The footage from those few days in the desert has the most emotional weight, as evidenced by these images:

Coronado is about to be hit by cornmeal Coronado fondles a severed hand in his fever dream
Coronado is about to be hit by cornmeal Creepy bruja Coronado fondles a severed hand in his fever dream

Coronado was made to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Spanish Conquest of the New World, and it is with his usual puckishness that Baldwin has chosen one of the least successful and perhaps most bumbling conquistadors of the period as the subject for his film. His treatment of the subject, in a year when many filmmakers were turning to the subject either reverently (12) or as revisionists (13) is both comic and self-referential. By film’s end, both Coronado and his native guide/friend/standard-bearer are making jokes for the camera, and we can see that the monk has suddenly acquired a video camera and has begun to help out on the shoot.

B-roll courtesy the Church Not too concerned with historical verisimilitude
B-roll courtesy the Church Not too concerned with historical verisimilitude

Sonic Outlaws (1995)

Sonic Outlaws is markedly different in that Baldwin goes from making a prank documentary to making a documentary about pranks. It begins with Negativland, an audio collage collective whose practices (cutting together media from TV, radio, films, records, home tapes, found tapes, and from their own music and voices) mirror his own. Negativland were sued in 1991 by U2 and Island Records for a song-parody collage they had made. It included a sample of the U2 song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and outtakes of DJ Casey Kasem (14) swearing and ranting in the studio about U2. (15)

The lawsuit would likely have resulted in triumph for Negativland – several high-profile cases (16) recently had gone as far as the American Supreme Court in defense of the rights of artists concerning “Fair Use”, a clause in the US Copyright Law. (17) Sadly, Negativland had neither the expensive legal advice to determine their rights nor the money to defend themselves in court, and the result was a crippling settlement that nearly destroyed the group.

As Baldwin had found the ire necessary to create anti-corporate agit-prop in RocketKitCongoKit and anti-government nuclear warnings in Coronado, he found another cause in Negativland’s plight. Sonic Outlaws contains more than just Negativland – several other groups on the forefront of copyright reform and anti-corporate reuse of culture are included, from the Barbie Liberation Organisation (an art-terrorist cell that switched the voiceboxes in talking Barbies and talking G.I. Joe dolls, then re-inserted them onto store shelves) to Alan Korn, a lawyer working for copyright reform within the system.

Members of Negativland Alan Korn and the filmmaker
Members of Negativland Alan Korn and the filmmaker

Throughout the course of Sonic Outlaws a variety of creative strategies are displayed, all of which constitute a kind of resistance movement in which artists attempt to turn the one-way authoritative communication of corporate culture into some kind of dialogue. Most of the Outlaws are involved in practices by which they receive the corporate signal (sampling, recording), manipulate it by some Dada or Situationist strategy (the detournement again) and then put it back out in the public domain for consumption (either by live show or through CDs, downloads, etc.).

Though the best known of Baldwin’s films, Sonic Outlaws is perhaps the film that least resembles his oeuvre. The amount of archival footage is at a minimum, and real people take centre stage. There are enough real stories here, and enough real monsters acting against the development of art and culture in the US that the science fiction monster-metaphors make a smaller showing.

In fact, the documentary realism inherent in the piece threatens to overshadow the formal aspects at play. Baldwin uses a variety of image-making tools – 16mm film, Super-8, tube video, Pixelvision, (18) optical printing, and others – but the results are not nearly as startling as the participants’ behaviour. In particular, consider the billboard defacements, or the sequence in which David “the Weatherman” Wills “illegally” listens in on a gay lovers’ cellphone quarrel with his radio scanner – these are far more engaging than the manner in which the events are presented.

Baldwin has been known to deface billboards himself. This could be his work. The Weatherman is breaking the law right now!
Baldwin has been known to deface billboards himself. This could be his work. The Weatherman is breaking the law right now!

Spectres of the Spectrum (1999)

For his last completed work (19) Baldwin returned to the world of the prank documentary, but this time it is combined with strong narrative elements. Spectres resembles Coronado much more than Sonic Outlaws in part because Baldwin brings back the manic fusion of alternative history and paranoid imagery; what he calls “the funkiness and honesty of the materials.” (20)

Spectres is not only a history of broadcasting and the use of the electromagnetic spectrum, but an alternate history of the twentieth century. This includes the development of modern weaponry as well as an inclusion of the fringe elements: Jack Parsons, Aleister Crowley, L. Ron Hubbard, the U2 incident, UFOs, Mind Control, Weather Control, Wilhelm Reich, Korla Pandit, and Baldwin’s many other obsessions. (21)

This pastiche of history and imagery is driven by the story of “Yogi” and his daughter “Boo Boo”, who live in the year 2007 when all media and broadcasting are controlled by one corporation. In the process of trying to discover what secret message Boo Boo’s grandmother left for her, encoded in the airwaves of Television and Time, Boo Boo reviews the archaeology of media from Samuel Morse’s telegram to the present day.

Gathering the materials for Spectres seems to have been governed by the same processes as for Baldwin’s previous films. The actors are staged in situations that provide the appropriate “gestures” and in many cases asked to improvise their own lines. (22) Sets were constructed literally from detritus. The art directors carted whatever junk and old equipment could be found into abandoned storefronts which served as the sets. Yet for all the freedom that may have governed the principal photography, and this film is unique in Baldwin’s work for having so much principal photography, the final result is a tightly scripted tour-de-force featuring rapid-fire information streaming from several channels. As in Tribulation, Baldwin uses text on screen and voiceover simultaneously, to present three streams of information (picture, sound, text) at once, increasing the level of stimulation to the point of overload.

Cockpit made of found objects The Spectrum in question Korla Pandit
Cockpit made of found objects The Spectrum in question Korla Pandit

All this was cut on film rewinds with splicing tape – there were no computers used to create the visuals, no non-linear editing systems employed. Though Baldwin sometimes uses a few optical printer tricks (rephotographing in negative, colour timing, increasing grain, etc.) most processes are very simple, and have a handmade feel to them.

He uses a rear screen process, for example, in the scenes of Yogi ranting from his pirate TV bunker.

Spectres of the Spectrum

Shots of the airstream trailer hurtling through space-time are accomplished by hanging a small model in front of a projection.

Spectres of the Spectrum

And kinescopes of Philo T. Farnsworth (23) are shot with a number of processes and intercut to give the film more texture.

Philo T. Farnsworth on the monitor... …from an old kinescope… …and photographed from a projection on the wall
Philo T. Farnsworth on the monitor… …from an old kinescope… …and photographed from a projection on the wall

All of this is aimed at what Baldwin calls “opening a space”. The filmmaker wishes his work to create conditions for the audience that are conducive to thought, consideration, discussion, philosophical debate and even the generation of new ideas, rather than just dictating information. Active participation in the film is his goal, not the passive transference of data or story characteristic of most film experiences. His films are designed to call fact and documentary truth into question and to provide an atmosphere of skepticism.

Mock Up on Mu (in Progress)

Baldwin’s current project includes New Age cults, science fiction, and the military-industrial complex. Bill Daniel is, once again, contributing as a cinematographer/editor.

It may seem somewhat perverse to give such a formal and structural analysis of Baldwin’s films given that his work seems so oriented toward his content. Not only does Baldwin make films that have, at their core, a socio-political agenda, but he is very involved with the exhibition of his films, and others that share similar content. Not only does he curate programs regularly at San Francisco’s ATA Gallery, (24) but he has travelled throughout Europe with a show of films and videos, operating as a kind of one-man microcinema. His role as filmmaker is equalled by his role as a presenter of alternative film production distributed outside established systems.

Clearly he has amongst his aims a desire to bring social critique and analysis, through the medium of film, to small audiences with whom he might create a kind of dialogue. It may sound outdated to speak of “consciousness-raising”, but the effect is something similar – presenting questions and complicated situations in the hope that the audience begins thinking about them, and carries that awareness into their everyday lives. (25)

These aspects of Baldwin’s work can be attributed, in some ways, to his locale. Though the American underground has its roots in New York City, (26) San Francisco has hosted a thriving oppositional film culture for over 40 years. Amongst the ATA Gallery, the Pacific Film Archive, and now the San Francisco Cinémathèque (which boasts Rick Prelinger on its board of directors), the environment is a good one for Baldwin’s films and his presentation.

It is, however, the aim of this piece to establish the aesthetic value of Baldwin’s work, above and beyond the socio-political material he employs. Baldwin’s critique of power and its abuses is certainly a remarkable aspect of his films. Yet equally remarkable is the fact that he chooses to present those ideas through the textures of film. He could write essays (27) or run for public office if he were purely motivated by political change. Instead, he chooses film, in all its scratched and dirty glory, and he does so in an age when most of his contemporaries are embracing digital technology. It is not the conservative drive of a purist (28) that draws him to celluloid, but rather a love for the medium that first inspired him, imperfections and all.

This article has been refereed.


  1. Audiotape interview with the author, 24 April, 2006
  2. Canyon Cinema is a filmmakers’ distribution co-op begun by Bruce Baillie in 1961. Baldwin’s inclusion in the Canyon catalog is a clear indication of the place his films occupy in the family tree of American experimental filmmaking. Canyon has been the primary distribution outlet for the works of artists such as Bruce Conner, Lenny Lipton, Stan Brakhage, Shirley Clarke, Les Blank, Kenneth Anger, and perhaps hundreds of others.
  3. Baldwin also runs his own distribution company, Other Cinema, which is slowly releasing his own films on DVD as well as work by many other filmmakers. Perhaps it will find release there soon enough.
  4. This film, like Wild Gunman, is available through Canyon Cinema. It is hoped that it will eventually find release through Other Cinema.
  5. Scott McDonald, “Craig Baldwin: Sonic Outlaws (1995), August 9, 1995” in A Critical Cinema 3, University of California Press, London, 1998. This quote is a touch out of context here, as Baldwin is really trying to get at an explanation of why pop culture refuse is in some ways more authentic than an established historical archive of materials. But nowhere else does the director so clearly state one of his underlying intentions.
  6. The Museum is located at 9341 Venice Boulevard, Culver City, California 90232. Their web address is http://www.mjt.org/, although no website can approximate a proper visit to the place.
  7. Ibid. Audio interview with the director, 24 April 2006.
  8. Rick Prelinger is also known for the popular Internet Archive at http://www.archive.org. The Moving Images section is growing every day, and contains high quality digital transfers of “ephemeral” films with the hope that more artists will use them.
  9. Among these titles: “Awful Sores Afflict the Flesh of Men”, “Rivers Turn to Blood and Run Upstream”, “The Unkillable Beast”, “Limbo of the Lost”, “The Slain Scattered from One End of the Earth Even Unto the Other”.
  10. The director defines “gesture” as being a “a physical movement disembodied from a language act.” Ibid. Interview of 24 April 2006. He goes on to describe the gesture as a sign, in the classic semiotic sense. It is interesting to note that whereas Baldwin is well-read and quite conversant in the basics of current film theory (much of which must come as a result of his position as an educator), his films are not really overly theoretical, relying instead on emotional states and gut reactions from an audience in order to function. This could be attributed to his interest in and devotion to the Soviet Montage filmmakers, as mentioned.
  11. From the same audio interview with the director: “At the level I’m working, which is this mixture of found footage and live action, the performance of the actors tends to be more gestural; that is to say a sign that will mesh with the other signs.” The Soviet influence and the attempt to organise human features into a sign of the emotions the filmmaker wishes to convey are the goals here.
  12. Ridley Scott’s 1492: The Conquest of Paradise (1992) comes to mind.
  13. At least in the United States, where it appears lots of people are still feeling guilty for this sort of thing. PBS, for example, developed a ten-part series called The Other Americas dedicated to correcting some of the most popular historical myths.
  14. The genial host of the American radio program “American Top 40”. He is also the voice of numerous American cartoon characters, notably “Shaggy” in the popular Scooby Doo series.
  15. “Who cares? This is bullshit. These guys are from England so who gives a shit?” and “I want somebody who uses his fucking brain to not come out of a goddamn record… that’s up-tempo and I’ve got to talk about a fucking dog dying!” typify Mr. Kasem’s hilarious and unguarded outbursts.
  16. Notably the 2-Live Crew v. Acuff-Rose case, which resulted in the Supreme Court’s eloquent upholding of an artist’s rights to use copyrighted materials to create a parody or social commentary that may be unflattering or unwanted by the copyright holder.
  17. For students of American Copyright Law, it is Title 17, Chap. 1, § 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair Use.
  18. The “tube” part of “tube camera” refers to the old analogue technology behind television. Baldwin used the outdated technology because tube cameras have a specific look to them, different than today’s digital gear. Pixelvision is a toy camera, manufactured by Fisher-Price, which recorded on a quarter-inch audio cassette tape. The low resolution and high contrast of Pixelvision made it cheap for the kids, but also suitable for artists.
  19. As of this writing, mid 2006.
  20. This and many other quotes to follow come from Mr. Baldwin’s commentary track, available on the Spectres… DVD. So much information on Baldwin’s processes and methodology is in evidence on this commentary that it would be redundant to refer to it that much. The interested party is directed to it for further study.
  21. A quick review for those who might want to know, and to save some time researching it on your own:
    Jack Parsons was the Satanist rocket scientist who co-founded Cal Tech. He was a devotee of…
    Aleister Crowley, the self-proclaimed “Great Beast 666.”
    L. Ron Hubbard is the founder of the goofy Scientology cult.
    The U2 spy plane, piloted by Francis Gary Powers, was shot down by the Soviets in 1960. It was an embarrassing incident for the United States.
    Wilhelm Reich was a fascinating and possibly deluded sex researcher.
    Korla Pandit was the star of the first music-only TV program in the 1950s. In it he would stare dreamily at the audience while playing “exotic” music on his Hammond organ.
    point of all this being that Baldwin’s knowledge of these nooks and crannies of history, both occult and popular, is encyclopaedic. His ability to connect all these seemingly disparate things into a master conspiracy theory is entertaining in and of itself, the way that complex puzzles can be entertaining. The same impulse can be felt in the films of Peter Greenaway, whose work is always about categorisation and bizarre taxonomies at some point.
  22. From the same DVD audio commentary, Baldwin discusses his lead actor, Sean Kilcoyne (also the narrator’s voice in Tribulation 99) and how he was given some minimal guidelines, but was asked to rant away. The resultant footage was edited and placed in the proper context by Baldwin and Daniel.
  23. Much-maligned American television pioneer.
  24. Each Saturday night at 8:30pm, at the ATA Gallery, 992 Valencia, San Francisco, CA 94110.
  25. This aim can be identified as more Situationist than “hippy”.
  26. By no means is this an attempt to declare the supremacy of San Francisco in the world of the American underground. In fact, the filmmaker’s co-operative that Jonas Mekas formed in 1962 is still alive and well at The Film-Makers’ Cooperative. But there does seem to be something in the air in Northern California.
  27. Which approach has worked fabulously well for the Situationists that Baldwin has clearly read.
  28. It is worth noting at this late juncture that Baldwin does not describe himself as a film purist. He has begun using digital tools very slowly, although the day he picks up a DV camera may be further in the future than many of his contemporaries.

Craig Baldwin


Stolen Movie (1976) Super-8

Wild Gunman (1978) 16mm colour/sound; 18 mins

RocketKitKongoKit (1986) 16mm colour/sound; 30min

Tribulation 99 (1991) 16mm colour/sound; 48 mins

¡O No Coronado! (1992) 16mm colour/sound; 40 mins

Sonic Outlaws (1995) 16mm colour/sound; 87 mins

Spectres of the Spectrum (1999) 16mm colour/sound; 91 mins

Mock Up on Mu (2008) 16mm colour/sound; 114 mins

The Film That Buys The Cinema (2014) colour/sound; 77 mins

Select Bibliography

Scott McDonald, “Craig Baldwin: Sonic Outlaws (1995), August 9, 1995” in A Critical Cinema 3, University of California Press, London, 1998, pp. 176-180

Articles in Senses of Cinema

No Text / No truth / Jouissance and Revolution: An Interview with Craig Baldwin by Jack Sargeant

An Evening on Baldwin’s Mountain by Dirk de Bruyn

Web Resources

Other Cinema
Baldwin’s distribution company

Canyon Cinema
A filmmakers’ distribution coop that has Baldwin’s works in their catalogue.

Spectres of the Spectrum
J. Hoberman’s review for the Village Voice.

No Copyright? Sonic Outlaws Director Craig Baldwin
Article on Sonic Outlaws and Baldwin’s position on copyright.


About The Author

Tim Maloney teaches film at California State University, Fullerton.

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