Letter from Rick Hancox to George Semsel
I just got
the word from John Smith last week that you will be able to make the northern
The above we intend to bill as “UNDERGROUND FILM NITE”!!!!
The pint is, it will get this campus of card-playing, beer-barfing mental lightweights into the theatre. If you can be prepared to give a special introduction to the films Jan. 25 (Sunday), give a guest lecture (informal) on film (choose your own topic), and perhaps mingle with our workshop members, the film society and/or the Dean’s budget will provide you with, not only your round-trip and incidental expenses, but a considerable retainer of at least $100 over and above spending money. If you could bring Rosemary along it would be great. While your expenses for her would not be met by the film society, I don’t think, (the Students Union gives final approval on all expenditures), we will put up both of you (or just yourself-whatever the case) in the special guest suite in Montgomery Hall, where you would also be able to get all your meals (free of course).
Oh what the FRIG am I talking about? Rosemary just had a baby! I suppose it would be pretty difficult for her to come anyway! Well anyway you know we’d all like to see both of you. Whatever you decide.
things have really turned out well regarding film-on-campus this year. The film
society so far has been a resounding success (I’ve included some articles), the
workshop is gaining tremendous momentum and George Welsh, Murray Stevenson,
John Smith, the Students Union, the campus cops-everybody has been extremely
co-operative. The Film Society, with its special guests, prize-winning films,
its emphasis on Canadian content, and its unique free admission to all
students, has gained much local, and even some national publicity. I would say
by the end of next term of Film Society will have proved to be one of the best
We have made some new purchases and acquisitions regarding equipment: a new $140 Super-8 GAF Anscomatic with 5:1 power zoom and manual exposure override, a Philips tape recorder and RCA Victor projector (from George Welsh), a good light meter, Bolex non-reflex zoom and tripod (on loan from the Athletic Dept.), a Lowell Quartz lamp and stand, and a combination 8-super-8-16mm splicer. Besides my editor, David Aurandt’s father is providing us with another editor, projector, screen and 8mm camera. All together 5 8mm and super-8mm cameras are on loan to the Workshop. What we lack, of course, is a qualified professor to pull us all together and give us a little more than “how to do this and how to do that,” which is all I can provide the students. Brian Pollard and Susan Sherwood have been wonderful in their organizational capacities. But your arrival on campus George, will certainly be the highlight of our workshop next term—something we will all really look forward to. I sincerely hope we can keep you around here for at least a week—as long as Larry’s visit last year, anyway.
Now to getting around to answering your last letter (Nov. 21), which was utterly fantastic. I am interested to know, naturally, what reasons John Smith gave you for not returning to teach in P.E.I. If you care to tell me I will keep it confidential. If I don’t get into grad. school next year, and if I don’t get financial assistance, which is entirely possible, I would definitely jump at the chance to assist you in an instructor-teacher capacity at any University that hires you. I am convinced I can teach, instruct and assist students; organize and operate film screenings, film societies, workshop, etc. and administer budgets or parts of budgets effectively and expediently. The only thing I feel shaky on is film history and aesthetics, something of what I have little more than subjective, personal opinions, or no knowledge whatsoever. I certainly can, and will, learn somehow. Do you honestly I could stand a chance in getting on the bottom rung of any faculty? Please let me know your thoughts.
question of whether to choose
The Canadian public is disgustingly apathetic when it comes to Canadian films. As long as they have their Hillbillies in a Haunted House, their Graduates, their Funny Girls, their drive-ins, and their midnight horroramas, they’re happy. Finally the Universities are ten years behind the times in implementing communications and creative arts courses in their curricula.
THAT, to me, is more depressing than al the Spiro Agnews put together. At least Spiro Agnew is not a hypocrite. At least in the U.S. you can single out the enemy. But in Canada you’re fighting a huge apathetic masse-so silent a majority, yet so effective-like a great sack of rotting potatoes ever on your shoulders at best, and the curse of the albatross at worst.
What a challenge.
If I stay here it will be to meet that challenge, in whole or in part.
At the tender age of 23, I have found myself forced, already, onto the defensive. Unconsciously I have backed up against a wall-a wall, unfortunately, protecting my creativity. And my time is spent repairing the wall, instead of tearing it down. In Canada, before you get TO your art, you have to find a PLACE for it. If I go on at my present rate, I will spend all my time fighting on the front and never make a film. In Canada you defend film; in the U.S., you make them. Whether you want to or not, George, as you have already experienced to a certain extent, you find yourself defending the Cinema. And I am sad to say it’s either defend them or make them.
I hope I am wrong.
I will not get a chance to respond to your “capsules,” except to say that it convinced me, finally that sincerity is a minor problem. Please write more along these lines. (Sir, can you tell me, what is art?) Don’t laugh-try to answer it.
If I do get into grad. school-yes, I would like to work on something with you next summer. Tell me more. I’m sorry I cannot come down for Christmas. Maybe in the spring. Give my love to Rosemary, Danny and Thaddeus. Say hello to all. Please write sooner than I did. Merry Christmas.