Video documentary honors local Occupiers
A local videotographer and Occupy activist, Brent Adams, recently posted a total of 90 minutes of professionally edited documentary video on Occupy Santa Cruz (OSC) to YouTube, making public an “historical artifact” that includes a cast of several hundred local people involved in the protest. While Adams says the documentary, broken into six parts from “Day One” of the protest to the group’s eviction from San Lorenzo Park, focuses on the discrepancies, omissions and biases of mainstream media coverage of Occupy Santa Cruz, he says this is not what motivated his work work.
“I’m not trying to show Occupy Santa Cruz in an overly favorable light,” Adams explains, “or aggrandize myself, or villianize the police or the mainstream media. I’m just trying to show how my experience looks juxtaposed with what was reported in the mainstream media.”
Adams spoke to GT from his unofficial workspace at Caffe Pergolesi, where he does most of his video editing work. He says the documentary addresses the questions of who makes the news, and why they do it the way they do. “I think my work shows a pattern emerging,” he says. “The city and the county wanted the camp gone, and the mainstream news organizations seemed to be a function of that objective, rather than asking the question ‘What are you protesting against?’ or ‘What are you doing here?’ [the latter of] which is the title of my videos.”
While shooting the documentary, Adams says he did not always have the support of the Occupiers, because many protesters believed most cameras were in the hands of “biased” media or law enforcement, and that their anonymity was compromised by anybody pointing a camera at them. Over time, as a participant in the protest, Adams gained more credibility and access, if only as an independent filmmaker.
As the protest progressed, Adams says another of his key motivations was simply to document the amount of work, cooperation, and community contributions that went into the local Occupy protest. “I have a burning desire for the people of Santa Cruz to look at these videos and honor the work of thousands of people who participated in the protest,” Adams says. “I watched people go deep within themselves, as they braved cold nights and police raids, and wrestle with the question, ‘What am I doing here?’, which I think was the key question that went unasked by most of the media.”
When asked about what the Occupy movement actually achieved, or where it goes from here, Adams says he remains dedicated to the movement. Adams is one of the “Santa Cruz 11” codefendants facing felony charges for the break-in of the bank building at 75 River St. While unwilling to discuss the break-in due to on-going legal proceedings, he is unafraid of saying he was, in fact, inside the building.
Adams hopes his documentary will provide a more objective record of the OSC events and will “allow people to make up their own mind of what it was about.”
“Now, after the fact, the media seems to want to make a mockery of it, and I fear many people who participated will begin to accept that—that it was something of an unfocused farce or something of no real importance,” he says. “I want people to be proud of their participation, to celebrate it.”
Although Adams says he is open to receiving donations to continue his documentary work, he adds that the recently posted videos are all “fair use,” meaning he is prohibited from ever making any money from them. The “What Are You Doing Here?” videos are available at YouTube/Subcommondante, and will be shown by the Guerilla Drive-In Theater (more details to be announced at guerilladrivein.org). Adams is also hoping to collect enough donations to rent a local theater and arrange for a free community showing.