Fifth Estate # 17, November 1-15, 1966

Well you see it was something like this. Larry Weiner (formerly mentioned in this column), Detroit film-maker, has finally gotten everything together for his long planned sequence for his long in the making film. The sequence involves some junior executive types walking through the Fisher Building, through the tunnel, in and out of the General Motors Building, dressed in turtle shells.

For the last few months Weiner’s producer, Clark Kent, has been trying to get the Fisher Building people to give permission for them to go ahead and shoot. Finally the word comes through to Weiner. It’s all clear to use the building. Kent has a letter, everything is in order.

Weiner gets busy, he lines up a group of people to help him, rents an Eclair, buys the film, and meets everyone at the Artists’ Workshop.

I show up at about 2 o’clock, the suggested meeting time, and I start preparing my Bolex, and get the first instructions on the day’s shooting. Peter Werbe and John Sinclair show up and try on their turtle shells (Peter’s fits perfectly, but John’s had to be taken up in the shell). Then, as Peter rolls down to the Committee to End the War in Vietnam in Weiner’s rented wheelchair-dolly (some sort of symbolism there), Weiner starts giving everyone information as to what they should do. After lots of hassle, everything is clear, and we split to the Fisher Building to make a last minute check of the building and to see the exact camera angles. The plan being that, even though we have permission we want to give the Fisher Building people as little hassle as possible, and we want to be able to do it almost as a straight walk-through, and be done within 15 minutes if possible. Everything’s set. Get the turtle shells ready, and have Weiner set up his camera on the balcony, and then we start…

Weiner’s camera is just about set up, the turtles are just about ready, if we can only find Peter. Wait, here’s Peter and he seems to be saying something about Larry Weiner being in the process of being busted. “What?” “Where?” “Where’s Joan with the letter?” “Here.” “Lets go see what’s happening.”

We do, and what’s happening is this: The guards have surrounded him (three on the balcony and two on the floor, in case he pulls a John Wilkes Booth and tries to escape). We step up with the letter, and give it to a guard, who goes to check. Word comes back. No permission was given anyone to shoot anything, photographically or otherwise, anywhere near, let alone in, the Fisher Building.

“But what about my letter?” says Weiner.

“A forgery,” says the Man.

“Get out of here, fast.” says the guard.

“But what about my 60 dollars camera rental?” pleads Weiner.

“I just follow orders” says the guard.

“I should have seen it coming,” says Weiner.

So we all split. Peter disappears with my camera case, so I sit in the Fifth Estate office typing my column waiting for him to come back. And Weiner goes off trying to co-ordinate people to help him shoot exteriors in the morning, before the camera rental is up.

And another day in the creative life of a Detroit Film-maker comes to an end.

Fade to black.

I was unable to attend the ACLU films the other week, but got very good reports from those who went. I recall most of the films from the Ann Arbor Festival as being well worth seeing. Especially Manupelli’s film: JENNY AND THE POET.

I will however not let anything short of a flash flood, and an attack of leprosy, or death keep me away from the ACLU’s presentation of Paul Stocky’s THE CULVERT and Manupelli’s L’HISTOIRE DU SOLDAT on Nov. 4th at the Art Institute. I saw L’HISTOIRE about a year and a half ago and really want to see it again. And I can barely wait to see what happened with THE CULVERT. Although I’m sure that Stockey didn’t have as much trouble in Birmingham as Weiner did in Fisherland.