A Brief History of The Funnel 
by John Porter (2006)

You can find this info and other fringe movie infos at super8porter.ca

Kodak introduced super 8 film in 1965, then super 8 sound film in 1975. In 1975, many young artists at The Ontario College of Art (OCA) in Toronto were holding super 8 parties which led to the publicly-funded, annual Toronto Super 8 Film Festival (1976-1983).

Some of those OCA artists joined the radical and seminal, publicly-funded, artist-run centre The Kensington Arts Association (KAA), later named the Centre for Experimental Arts and Communication (CEAC) (1973-1978). In 1974 the KAA, at 4 Kensington Avenue, showed a 20-minute “standard” 8mm film by local artist Darryl Tonkin, and in 1975 it began showing 16mm, 8mm and super 8 films regularly. The CEAC, at 15 Duncan Street, helped to found the short-lived Canadian Super 8 Distribution Centre in 1976, which in turn published a Directory in 1977 with 118 super 8 films, some 8mm films, and some videos, by 50 Canadian artists.

The CEAC’s regular Super 8 Open Screenings and other film screenings led to their founding of The Funnel Experimental Film Theatre (1977-1989), in their basement on Duncan Street which they had previously used for their punk music club the Crash ‘n’ Burn. One co-founder of the Super 8 Festival, the Super 8 Distribution Centre and The Funnel was filmmaker Ross McLaren. He also taught filmmaking at OCA until 1990, inspiring many interesting super 8 filmmakers who became associated with The Funnel.

In 1978 the CEAC was “banned in Canada” so The Funnel moved independently to the front of the ground floor of 507 King Street East where its 30 members built a state-of-the-art 100-seat cinema with raked, fixed theatre seats, a projection booth and sound recording studio, darkroom, art gallery, library and office. Eventually with public funding, it provided 16mm, 8mm and super 8 film production, distribution and exhibition facilities, for personal film artists only, excluding the all-consuming crowd of conventional filmmakers.

The Funnel hosted 60 public events per year, with many legendary “avant-garde” filmmakers visiting from around the world with their work, including a 5-night performance by Jack Smith.
Many of them said that it had the best-quality super 8 projection they had seen. 
It’s two distribution catalogues in 1984 and 1987 listed 320 films and other media, almost half of them on super 8, by 80 artists. It inspired an unequalled amount of super 8 filmmaking in Toronto.

The Funnel’s unique philosophy was explained in this excerpt from its 
introduction to The Funnel Film Collection Catalogue. “For various reasons an artist may never make copies of his or her work.
A film or tape may change from presentation to presentation as the artist re-edits the piece; the nature of the film stock or material may preclude its reproducibility; in the extreme a film may exist only as a sculptural entity to be viewed on rewinds.
Each presentation of a work of this nature is a unique performance.

Accommodation of the diverse existing and possible future formats is a policy of the Collection, and a reflection of an historical and contemporary practice of artists’ film.”

But The Funnel was long a victim of the Ontario Film Classification Act. Partly because of that, it suffered a political split in 1986, then the remaining members made an ill-timed move to the front of the second floor of 11 Soho Street in 1987. Public funding was reduced, forcing them to dismantle their newly-built theatre a year later, but the group held rare screenings at OCA and The Euclid Theatre until 1989. Its collapse left a vacuum in Toronto still felt today. All of its equipment, and some artists’ original films, disappeared, and many of Toronto’s finest small-format filmmakers, such as Jim Anderson, Sharon Cook, Fast Wurms, and Villem Teder, stopped making films.