PRESERVING INDEPENDENCE: THE RALLY TO SAVE PICKFAIR
Indie filmmakers are not often known for being big historical preservationists, but indie icon Allison Anders aims to change that. This weekend, she led a group of filmmakers and film lovers in a rally in West Hollywood to save “The Lot”, also known as Pickfair– most of which is currently slated to be demolished by its current owner, real estate development firm CIM. She’s also launched an online campaign to generate opposition to the planned changes, and has won the support of people like Joe Dante, Guy Maddin, Howard Rodman, David Ansen, Monte Hellman, Cotty Chubb, Mary Harron, Eric Stoltz, among many others.
The Pickfair Studio was created in 1922 by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Together with Charlie Chaplin and DW Griffiths, Pickford and Fairbanks built the first true independent film studio – United Artists. In addition to silent film classics like Son of the Sheik, Sparrows, and Thief of Bagdad, countless other films shot at Pickfair, including Wuthering Heights (1939), Guys and Dolls, Some Like It Hot (1959), and West Side Story (1959). Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, Frank Sinatra, Myrna Loy, Natalie Wood, Marlon Brando, Jack Lemmon, Danny Kaye, and Laurence Olivier all made films at the studio.
Film Independent’s Co-President Josh Welsh stopped by the Rally to Save Pickfair and spoke with Allison about the fight to save the studio.
Josh Welsh: Allison, could you talk about what The Lot means for the independent film community?
Allison Anders: This lot, in particular, was the dream of making your own film on your own terms. Right here is where people came to make films – on their own terms. I think it’s even a little more romantic, because it was Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, who were in love and who created this studio so they could go to work together, hold hands, and make their own movies. And then after that, it was a place where many, many independent filmmakers worked. In the 80’s and 90’s a lot of independents were born right here. Monte Hellman talks about having an office in here and he was working on The Mechanic at the time, and Howard Hawks had an office across the way from him. I snuck on to shoot some scenes for Border Radio. Even at the time I was like, ‘Oh my god, it looks so noir!’ That’s what you get here. You can’t just go find that somewhere.
Many people tend to think that indie film in LA began with Cassavetes, but it really goes back much earlier than that, doesn’t it?
Oh it absolutely does. You know, this was where Untied Artists was originally– this was their studio! United Artists was the first artist run company. It doesn’t get more independent than that!
How Can Film Independent members get involved? If they want to help, what can they do?
They can go to our site, and sign the petition. They can find all the information right there, on where to write to the developers who own the lot, and also to the City Council of West Hollywood.
You heard them! This is about saving a piece of our community. Go to the site, sign the petition, write a letter to the developers and to the City Council of West Hollywood.
Take action to preserve a piece of independent film history!
–by Josh Welsh for Film Independent
April 2nd, 2012 • No Comments