Funnel opens to fledgling filmmakers by Barri Dena Cohen (1983)

Originally published in Toronto Clarion, December 1983

The Funnel, Toronto’s centre for avant-garde activity, recently modified its membership policy to allow fledgling experimental filmmakers better access to the Funnel’s production equipment. For $35 a year, an associate member can now borrow production equipment at weekly rates of $5 to $10 and get in free to film screenings. In the past, only the thirty full members could borrow equipment.

According to programmer/director Michaelle McLean, the intention of this change is to aid filmmakers more effectively with their short term needs. “Basically,” says McLean, “we want to set up further access for the artist who may have a one-time need, and to encourage associates to become committed on a long-term basis.”

This change was motivated by a sense of confidence and satisfaction within the organization due to their established profile; they no longer feel the need to be a “closed” centre through fear of being overrun by filmmakers with a decidedly commercial bent. The decision was also aided by the fact that the Funnel, with the support of the Toronto art community and the Ontario Arts Council, was able to purchase more equipment and to research the feasibility of an open access system.

The policy change hasn’t affected the regular Funnel members a great deal, although it has involved removing the ceiling on the number of regular members. But it has led to an encouraging increase in associate members. With this increase, the Funnel is now hiring part-time staff to help maintain and coordinate the operation. The recent policy change is a healthy sign of commitment on the part of the Funnel towards truly being a centre for experimental film production and screenings. It can only help to further cement a relationship of mutual support between the artist and the Funnel.