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Issue 31 - March/April 2005


A conversation between Emily Forman and Daniel Tucker about building a temporary autonomous TV studio

Imagine a three story media production studio that appears for one weekend and brings hundreds of queer and feminist independent media producers together for the video-taping and staging of their own “television shows,” talk shows, historical reenactments and skill-sharing workshops. Imagine activists working on each other’s productions, sharing facilities and equipment, eating community meals and collaborating on set design for fictional news shows. In October, Pilot TV did just this by creating a unique space for collaboration, asking questions and building community in a wonderful and experimental temporary autonomous television studio.

Daniel: How did the idea for Pilot arise?

Emily: In initial conversations, another organizer, James Tsang, and I kept throwing around this word, this idea of “Transfeminism.” We were excited that it had no set definition and thought it might have some possibility in terms of encompassing a wide variety of new feminist concerns (and old concerns as well, like the idea that biology shouldn’t control your destiny…).1 Our conversations about defining transfeminism quickly multiplied into all these other slogans and exclamations of our desires for “Body Flight!” and “Feminist Trespass!” against biopolitical control and capitalism. Our basic idea was that we should work out these questions with our peers in a productive, performative, open-ended space. It eventually was settled that we would call people from across the continent to come and take part in a weekend of collaborations producing feminist television “pilots,” which would then be edited, compiled, and redistributed back to all participants so they could distribute them on their local public access channels, schools, or microcinemas wherever they live. This would also have the effect of building a new network of anticapitalist transsexuals, queers, and feminist media producers for possible future action.

Daniel: Can you mention some of the models, other events and projects that inspired Pilot?

Emily: Pilot was moved to build a horizontal production space that could feed into, and in some ways differ from, the incredible horizontal distribution networks created by the global Indymedia movement. We were inspired by projects like DIVA TV, Deep Dish and Paper Tiger, as well as lesser-known histories of queer, feminist, and collective media activism such as the Videofreex and Raindance Corporation. In addition to those influences, we decided that Pilot should take the best aspects of a protest convergence center and a Hollywood TV studio. 

Daniel: There were more than 35 different “shows” that were taped during the weekend including a talk show called “Feeling Good About Feeling Bad” which focused on the experience of political depression, a performative lecture by the Society for Biological Insurgents, and a genderqueer erotic remake of the 1925 Eisenstein film Battleship Potemkin. Considering all of the kinds of shows that happened during the weekend, what were people trying to figure out? 

Emily: We were trying to educate each other about the incredibly rich history of feminist media activism, and some of the early utopian proposals for what video and television might be. The popular meaning of feminism has been whittled down to these very narrow clichés, but in fact, it is a set of essential tools for ethical social practice and resistance to patriarchy, hierarchy, and capitalism. As far as transfeminism relating to media democratization, we didn’t privilege either one as a concern. We saw them as coextensive and interdependent struggles. I guess it is on this level that feminism most strongly informs anticapitalist movements today. Our concern during the weekend was about doing activism from the level of the body up. Starting with how we meet our basic needs for food or healthcare, up to things like how we resist oppressions based on race, citizenship, gender, or sexuality, our position as laborers and consumers in the global economy, the importance of feelings, the bodies made up by our families, communities, and cities.

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