By Fabrice Florin, Lee Callister and Joe Dea
Videowest Alumni Jeff Nemerovski, Joe Dea, Betsy Miller, Fabrice Florin and Joe Lerer greeted visitors at the registration desk at our 40th anniversary party.
Over a hundred old friends and co-conspirators came together on Labor Day to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Videowest, the indie TV studio that pioneered rock video journalism in the 80’s. We spent a wonderful day together, remembering and reconnecting in the beautiful San Francisco Film Centre in the Presidio.
Evelyn Messinger and Wes Dorman reconnect in the hallway to the Palm Room.
It was the first time many of us had seen each other in years. We laughed and cried as we looked each other over, glanced surreptitiously at name tags, and remembered how wild and fun it was, back in the days when the Bay Guardian suggested that Videowest’s “free-form programming” just might represent “the future of television.”
Joe Dea and Fabrice Florin get ready for the big event.
In the afternoon, we hung out on the veranda, reminiscing about the good old days over drinks and food. In the evening, we watched video flashbacks and took turns on stage sharing memories of the wild times we had unleashing a new wave of television for the rock generation. It was a true pleasure to catch up with so many old friends for this once-in-a-lifetime celebration!
Kat Guevara and Lee Callister set up the stage for our anniversary.
In the conference room down the hall, we invited Videowest alumni to share their memories in short video interviews. Just like in the old days, producers, camera operators and technicians volunteered their time to record our stories.
Stu Bass, Steve Goldsmith, Vince Casalaina and Tim Mundorff set up the video camera for alumni interviews.
Over time, our creative community has spread out all across the world and many attendees flew back to the Bay Area from Paris, New York, Washington, Texas, Colorado, and points in between. Many migrated to Los Angeles, where they built careers in television and film, winning Emmys, an Oscar and many other awards.
The prolific Erik Nelson (pictured here with Fabrice Florin) keeps producing award-winning documentaries from his studio in LA, commuting back and forth from Santa Cruz.
Many of our alumni started their careers in radio, working at KSAN, the legendary rock station that paved the way for both rock journalism and alternative music programming, which became an important foundation for Videowest’s unique creative style.
Writer/performer Wes “Scoop” Nisker and his daughter Rose.
It was at KSAN that radio journalist Scoop Nisker first coined the phrase “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.” He opened our evening presentation with a moving speech inviting us once again to make some news of our own - read his speech in this blog post
Videowest founder Fabrice Florin hosted the evening presentation, which included alumni speeches and video flashbacks.
Throughout the evening, we took turns sharing memories and watching short segments from Videowest Flashbacks, a video retrospective of our creative journey, which took us back in time from the first Videowest shows to Backstage Pass, MTV Music News, TestTube, Take Off and Rock On. These video flashbacks were edited for our anniversary by Evelyn Messinger, Marcus Pun and Fabrice Florin, and can be viewed here on Vimeo.
Antoine de Cazotte told the story of how his time at Videowest led him to become unit production manager on “The Artist”, which swept the Oscars in 2012 with five wins.
In between video segments, we told stories, shared fond memories and learned about our older selves. We had a grand time catching up with so many old friends -- and paying tribute to alumni who have passed on, such as Joe Ohliger, Art Freyer, Willie Boy Walker, Jane Dornacker, and many more talented individuals who left us too soon.
Art Fryer was a gentle soul with many talents and a cheery smile, always helping out with anything that needed doing.
More Anniversary Photos
Here are a few more of our favorite photos from this event. See our full photo album for many more photos by Fabrice Florin, Stu Bass and other friends. And stay tuned for a video of the evening presentation.
Steve Benioff, Terri Adams and Kathy MacDonald on the veranda.
Juanita Diana and Andy Yakas in the Palm Room.
Harold Brown and DJ Germ Smith got caught up and traded stories.
Betsy Miller looked as young as ever.
Aisha and Zoe Sharpe and their mother, Karen Sharpe. As kids, they were asked to play “Attack Trained Children” in Joe Ohliger’s commercial parody.
Tom Disher, “the last Videowest volunteer”, entertained us with a moving musical performance for his old friend Mike Feeney.
The After Party
The day after the main event, a select group of Videowest alumni relaxed poolside in Evelyn Messinger’s home in San Anselmo.
The potluck food was delicious, the conversations were stimulating, and we danced to new wave music while Harold treated us to soothing back massages. Most brought swimsuits, and the water was perfect! It was a great way to unwind after weeks of preparation for our big anniversary shindig.
Here are a few snapshots from this fun gathering. See more pictures in our full photo album for this after-party, with photos by Fabrice Florin, Stu Bass and friends.
A monster we dubbed Fabzilla emerged from the jungle pounding his chest before doing a cannon ball in the pool.
Juanita Diana and Kat Guevara trekked from San Francisco to the after-party.
Hey we like to party. What else is there to do anyway?
Harold’s magic fingers had us all purring.
Harold Brown and Jennifer Blowdryer compared notes about their very different lives.
Frankie Petitclerc and Phyllis Florin enjoyed reconnecting with each other.
Steve Goldsmith preaches to the choir.
Forty more years!! Forty more years!! (Or maybe we shouldn’t wait quite that long.)
Special thanks to all the Videowest alumni who generously volunteered their time over many months to prepare this fun reunion: Lee Callister, Joe Dea, Juanita Diana, Fabrice Florin, Phyllis Florin, B.J. Martin, Betsy Miller, Evelyn Messinger and Marcus Pun. We’re particularly grateful to Scoop Nisker and Tom Disher for giving special performances at the event.
Many thanks as well to our event crew for all their help that weekend: Stu Bass, Vince Casalaina, Eric Christensen, Tom Disher, Kat Guevara, Steve Goldsmith, David Lawrence, Jeff Nemerovski, Frankie Peticlerc, Maggie Panontin and Liduina Van Nes, to name but a few. And kudos to everyone who flew in from all over the world for this event, including Jennifer Blowdryer, Antoine de Cazotte, Philippe Denard, Wes Dorman, Marty McNiff, Erik Nelson, Karen Sharpe and her daughters.
For more pictures of our reunion, visit our anniversary photo album and after-party photo album, featuring hundreds of images by Fabrice Florin, Stu Bass and friends. And watch Videowest Flashbacks for a fun montage of clips from our shows and behind-the-scenes photos.
Be sure to watch some of the videos we created together on our cool new site. Whether you were a fan of Videowest or worked on our productions, it’s a great way to stroll down memory lane and experience the worldview from the rock generation and the rise of punk and new wave music.
Or Would you like to see more blog posts about Videowest in the future? What topics would you be interested in? Would you like to share a story or write about your own experience at Videowest? Email us at email@example.com with any suggestions.
Are we having fun yet?
Photos by Fabrice Florin, Stu Bass and friends.