The movie is produced by EZTV, a production company and exhibition venue founded in Los Angeles in 1979 by John Dorr and other people (including Michael J. Masucci, who plays the cinema manager in Polly Perverse). How did you come in contact with them? How did your project fit into their structure?
EZTV began exhibiting videos in 1983, the year I became a full-time critic. I knew John’s name from my auteurist friends in L.A., and I made a point of covering his screenings as often as possible. John knew that I wanted to make films, and at one point he offered me the use of the EZTV facilities and equipment. In 1985, when I was thinking about quitting my critic job, EZTV moved to a new, much bigger space in New Orleans Square in West Hollywood. It looked like a big, unfinished movie studio when I first saw it, and it put ideas into my head. Soon I left the L.A. Reader and started to work on Polly.
In those days EZTV had very little structure, and John made it possible for all kinds of different artists to work there. We had to share the 3/4″ equipment and give it up whenever EZTV had a paying customer. John never even asked me for money, though the company needed it badly. My films were not completely unlike John’s, but he gave the same support to many others who had nothing whatsoever in common with his approach to cinema.
In which contexts has Polly Perverse Strikes Again been screened? More generally, what were the odds of such a film being distributed in the U.S. at that time?
Polly has barely been shown at all. There were four poorly attended screenings at EZTV in 1986. Then nothing until a single screening at Anthology Film Archives in New York in 2013, as part of a retrospective of my work. And it screened at another retrospective in Madrid in June 2019. That’s it.
We didn’t really think too much about wider distribution: we assumed that the technical quality of the video would prevent that. In retrospect, though, 1986 was right in the middle of the emergence of the American independent cinema as a commercially viable movement. Polly wasn’t in a position to ride that wave, but at least the wave was happening.
561MB | 1h 38mn | 640×480 | mkv