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Series IV. Production Programs, 1990-2002

Scope and Content Notes:

Series includes program schedules; budgets and invoices; agency reports and correspondence; press releases and news clippings; flyers, broadsheets and brochures; and photographs relating to Community Media’s core programs and special events. Core programs produced public lectures, symposia, film showings, and freelance video productions, and trained student interns in film production on site and in the production studio. Video Cassette Tapes and photographs documenting some projects are filed in Series VI. Media.

CM realized its mission through three main programs: Images of a Culture (1990-2002), Community Eye (1990-2001), and a Video Documentation Service (VDS) (1996-2002). In addition, CM hosted or partnered in hosting special events in line with its mission; these include screenings at Pittsburgh’s summer Three Rivers Arts Festival and New Year’s First Night celebrations, as well as a course of special events and film screenings to commemorate CM’s 10th Anniversary in 1999-2001.

More information is available at the subseries level.

Subseries 1. Community Eye, 1990-2001

Scope and Content Notes:

The Community Eye program had origins in an eponymous 7-part video news magazine that aired on Pittsburgh’s public access PCTV in 1990. Community Eye was the predecessor to the Video Documentation Service, and “Eye” films evidenced a more sophisticated production value, pairing CM student volunteers and interns under Jackson’s direction with professional videographers to outline, film, and produce narrative documentary videos. Files include programs, shooting schedules and shot lists, film synopses, contracts and invoices, press releases and news clippings, memos and correspondence.

Two projects, “Layers” (1992), a documentary of a Pittsburgh Public Theatre production of the John Henry Redwood play A Sunbeam, and “Clean Drums” (1994), documenting a Kuntu Repertory production of the Rob Penny play of same name, were produced through Community Eye prior to the release of “A Safe Place” in 1995. “Safe” documented the problems of gang-related youth violence in Pittsburgh. It was the first full-length CM film of original subject matter, and won best community-produced documentary in the 1996 Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Inc. International Black Independent Film & Video Competition.

“Harambe!” (meaning “rise up” in Swahili) was a half-hour documentary video, following the development of Pittsburgh Public Theater’s Youth Theater Project’s production of “This Too Shall Pass,” and its troupe of young performers. The project cultivated publicity that raised funds for the play’s eventual production March 10, 1997, at Pittsburgh’s Theodore L. Hazlett, Jr. Theatre. The documentary “Harambe!” Premiered October 25, 1997, at the Homewood Branch of the Carnegie Library, and was screen several times around the city as part of the “Takin’ It to the Streets” program.

“Things That Fit” is a half-hour documentary highlighting prolific playwright and Pittsburgh native August Wilson, focusing on a New York production of his play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” a musical charting the development of blues music, and the third in a ten-play cycle which chronicles the African-American experience in the twentieth century decade by decade. Wilson addressed those gathered at the premiere presentation of “Things That Fit” on March 16, 1998 at the Carnegie Lecture Hall in Oakland; the film won an award from the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) in 1999.

In 1999, CM interns produced a documentary on YouthWorks job training programs around Allegheny County, including their own program. As both the CM interns and Community Media were paid by the YouthWorks organization, and as the documentary project was the subject of the winning proposal CM had submitted to YouthWorks that year, documentation of the documentary resides in the YouthWorks series.

“Jonny Gammage: Enough is ENOUGH!” began to document the political fallout and racial tensions following the 1996 shooting-death of motorist Gammage at the hands of suburban Pittsburgh police. The file contains significant background research and notes relating to community forums on police brutality and the establishment of the Citizen’s Review Board for Pittsburgh Police, as well as highlights of interviews with Gammage’s surviving family in Syracuse, NY (Gammage was a cousin of former Pittsburgh Steeler Ray Seals). The film was previewed October 14, 1999 at the “Just Us: Protecting Our Freedom” symposium at Carnegie Mellon University, and received funding from the Three Rivers Community Fund as late as 2001, but was never released in a finished version.

In 2000, student interns including Volunteer Coordinator Darnell “WERM” Grisham attended “Listen Up!,” a production workshop on Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and a project of Learning Matters, which produces the annual Merrow report on higher education. The “Listen Up!” project file includes information on CM’s expanded curriculum on producing PSAs, and relating to the production of PSAs, including a 24 second short titled “Stop the Violence” and entered into a number of contests.

Files include budgets, programs, correspondence, press releases contest submissions and notices of award, related to the production and promotion of Community Eye projects. Included in some cases are copies of related grant reports; funding and materials documentary projects were often funneled through the Video Documentation Service. Where applicable, invoices created for the sale and distribution of video cassette copies follow in a separate file.

Folder 19 "Community Eye” Film Synopses, 1990-2001
Folder 20 “Community Eye” Flyers, 1990-1994
Folder 21-23 “A Safe Place” Records, 1994-1996
Folder 24 “Harambe!” Records, 1997
Folder 25 “Things that Fit” Records, 1997-1998
Folder 26 “Jonny Gammage: Enough is Enough!” Records, 1999-2001
Folder 27-28 “Listen Up!” PSA Records, 2000

Subseries 2. Images of a Culture, 1990-2002

Scope and Content Notes:

Images of a Culture presented African American filmmakers and their works at indoor and outdoor venues across Pittsburgh, mainly in city parks and neighborhoods identified as high risk for youth; files include flyers and programs, schedules, Film synopses, invoices, contracts and permits, attendance statistics and Program Evaluation forms, press releases and news clippings, memos and correspondence relating to the presentation of the public film and lecture series.

During the early years of the program, CM hosted filmmakers Melvin Van Peebles (1989), Gordon Parks, Jr. (1990, again in 2001), St. Clair Bourne (1990), Ayoka Chenzira (1991), and Wendell B. Harris, Jr. (1992).

As part of the mission of the “Images” program to coalesce the African-American community in Pittsburgh, CM held a combined sensitivity workshop/film screening called “A Family Affair” in 1993.

Filmmaker Haile Gerima spoke at the “Pittsburgh Premiere” of his film Sankofa (1993) on June 3, 1994 at Pittsburgh’s Fulton Theater, and Gerima returned once more in November, 1995.

As the program developed, focus shifted to annual film series “Images of a Culture” (1990-1997) and “Takin’ It to the Streets” (1996-2002), which encompassed “Phat Fridays,” “Cinema in the Parks” and collaborative screenings with Pittsburgh’s YouthPlaces program (2001-02).

A well-publicized 12-month program called “First Fridays” was launched in November, 2001; the closing event, a September, 2002 jazz documentaries screening in Mellon Park, marked Billy Jackson’s retirement from Community Media.

Films shown at the screenings came from CM’s in-house video library, or were rented from film distribution companies. Film Acquisition Records include Invoices and Screening Licenses, as well as some catalog material. Screening and Event Invoices relate mostly to CM’s expenditures and collection of fees for services provided. Attendance Evaluations include formal demographic analysis and reports, as well as handwritten evaluations of the various screenings authored by program attendees.

Other records are grouped chronologically by program.

Folder 29 Community Media Video Inventory
Folder 30 Film Acquisition Catalogs and Invoices, 1996-2002
Folder 31 “A Family Affair” Workshop Records, 1993
Folder 32 “Sankofa” Premiere Records, 1994-1995
Folder 33 “Images of a Culture” Records, 1991-1997
Folder 34 “Takin’ It to the Streets” Screening Invoices, 1996-2002
Folder 35 “Takin’ It to the Streets” Attendance Evaluations, 1996-2002
Folder 36-41 “Takin’ It to the Streets” Promotions and Correspondence, 1996-2002
Folder 42-43 “First Fridays” Records, 2001-2002

Subseries 3. Visions of the World: CM 10th Anniversary Celebration, 1998-2001

Scope and Content Notes:

Community Media’s 10th Anniversary saw an expansion in the number and variety of the organization’s projects, and was the occasion for “Visions of the World” (1999) and “Visions of the World: Uncensored” (2000), which included an African Film Festival and a Cuban Film Festival hosting native filmmaker Estella Bravo, as well as the “Living Legends” screening (2001), highlighting the careers of filmmaker Gordon Parks, Jr. and Harry Belafonte. The “Just Us” symposium on community relations with police included a preview of CM’s Gammage documentary. Documents of film screenings include press releases and news clippings, flyers, program schedules, related correspondence and invoices.

The “Living Legends” event included two components. Community Media hosted a belated 10th Anniversary celebration March 10, 2001 at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland, at which filmmaker Gordon Parks, Jr. was presented with a lifetime achievement award by co-honoree Harry Belafonte. A screening series leading up the event showcased the two men’s work at community centers around Pittsburgh.

The Records of the 10th Anniversary Events Committee contain a 1999 schedule for the Parks/Belafonte event; the actual 2001 event was arranged by a special Events Committee. Committee records include meeting minutes, budget and personnel reports, schedules and correspondence relating to the event, as well as correspondence and background information for the artists. Contact lists compile volunteers, staff, and private and corporate sponsors. Event Invoices are records of corporate and private donations and ticket sales. Press releases and news clippings regarding the event include a print-out of Community Media’s Web site circa March, 2001. “Living Legends” screening records include volunteer and presentation schedules, event flyers and flyer distribution lists, attendee demographics and mailing lists. Demographics were collected and opinions solicited at each event. The 10th Anniversary Event program documents the evening of March 10, 2001 in detail; photographs are filed in Series VI., Media Recordings.


Box 3
Folder 1 10th Anniversary Planning Committee Records, 1998-2000
Folder 2 “Just Us”: Community Symposium on Justice Records, 1998
Folder 3 Visions of the World, 1999
Folder 4 Visions: Uncensored, African film festival Records, 1999
Folder 5 Visions: Uncensored, Cuban film festival Records, 2000
Folder 6 “Living Legends” Event Planning Committee Records, 2000-2001
Folder 7 “Living Legends” Sponsors and Volunteers Lists
Folder 8 “Living Legends” Event Invoices, 1998-2001
Folder 9 “Living Legends” Press Releases and News Clippings, 2001
Folder 10 “Living Legends” Flyers, 2001
Folder 11 “Living Legends” Screenings Schedule and Attendance Evaluations, 2001
Folder 12 10th Anniversary Event “Living Legends” Program and Specs, 2001
Folder 13 10th Anniversary Event Evaluations, 2001
Folder 14 10th Anniversary Event Images, 2001

Subseries 4. Video Documentation Services (VDS), 1996-2003

Scope and Content Notes:

VDS was contracted mainly by non-profit and civic agencies to produce PR films, and was conceived in 1996 as a way to deploy CM interns into the freelance videography working environment, and as a secondary source of income for the CM organization.

Program reports includes a client list, program evaluation and annual project history from 1997-99; a business brochure includes design specs. A sampling of workshop outlines detail the curriculum for student volunteers. News clippings include a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette job advertisement for “video internships,” as well as articles relating to potential clients’ projects.

Tape handling is documented by Video Dubbing Forms and Inventory and Distribution Invoices.

Correspondence includes background research and estimates for documentary projects, and includes significant material relating to the NAACP’s 88th Annual Convention in Pittsburgh, the ACLU production “You and the Police” (contemporary with Community Eye’s Gammage filming), and the Pittsburgh leg of the Olympic torch-bearer’s procession for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, Utah.

Invoices include copies of checks and notes relating to material supplies, as well as detailing services rendered for titled and completed projects. Invoices record presence and activities of VDS interns and the collaborating/supervising professional videographers. Equipment invoices and brochures document the cameras and editing equipment used for video production.

Several individual client projects have been assigned a unique file based on a significant volume of germane supporting material, including contracts, correspondence, and shot lists. These clients include the Minority Enterprise Corporation’s Pillar Awards, and the City of Pittsburgh’s Weed and Seed and Neighborhood Needs programs. Materials are identified by title and dates covered.

Folder 15 Program reports, 1997-1999
Folder 16 Program brochure and specs
Folder 17 Workshop outlines, 1996-1997
Folder 18 VDS Press Releases and News Clippings, 1997-2000
Folder 19 Videotape Handling Records, 1996-2002
Folder 20 VDS Correspondence, 1996-2001
Folder 21 Inventory and Distribution Invoices, 1996-2000
Folder 22 VDS Project Invoices, 1996-2001
Folder 23 Equipment Invoices, 1997-2001
Folder 24 Equipment Specifications, 1997-2001
Folder 25-29 Individual VDS Production Records, 2000-2003