Warhol Embraces Underground Film

Warhol Embraces Underground Film

Andy Warhol’s dive into underground film commenced in early 1962 when he began attending screenings at the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, then operating out of Jonas Mekas’s loft and the Charles Theater. Warhol was one of fifteen or so people sitting on the floor, though he and Mekas didn’t become acquainted until 1963. “That’s where Andy Warhol began watching films and got the urge to make movies himself,” Mekas recalled. “He was at the Film-Makers’ Cooperative watching films and meeting his early stars: Mario Montez, Beverly Grant, Naomi Levine, Taylor Mead. He met them at the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, and that’s when he decided to make a film.” Warhol was inspired to make movies after seeing Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures, which precipitated his shift away from visual art. In 1963, he bought a Bolex 16-mm camera with a newly introduced motor that made shooting simpler—one of the ways that new technologies shaped the development of the downtown’s DIY scenes. (The massive amount of cheap 16-mm film stock left over from World War II also gave underground filmmakers access to this medium.)

From Chapter 10 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Charles Theater
193 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009