During the 1970s Hopkins also inspired the community video movement in the UK. I got to know him in 1976 in the Fantasy Factory in London where he and Sue Hall were running a video resource and information center for video activists and nosey anthropologists like myself. Hoppy and Sue introduced me to the community video scene in London. That’s how my research on community media (pdf) in the UK began.
In 2013 I met Hoppy again for one of his last interviews. He was already marked by his illness. Reminiscing about his early community video experiments, he talked about video work with old pensioners in a working class neighborhood in North London.
Hoppy: «Another Fantasy Factory video programme was called Song of Long ago, made with people who then were the age that I am now. I’m seventy-five, and I won’t live much longer. All the people who were in the original Song of Long Ago, they’ve all died because that’s what happens when you get to the end of your life. It would be a pity if what they leave behind couldn’t be preserved, because future generations may want to come back and look at it again.» (see John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, Video 21.26: Song of Long Ago)
Wishing you an inspiring viewing session,
P.S. Another fond memory of Hoppy: I met him in his small house that had an electric piano in the kitchen. On the music stand: Strawberry Fields Forever from the Beatles. Hoppy: ‘I practice every day. That keeps me fit’. Hoppy suffered from Parkinson’s disease. Over the piano there was a small painting with children dancing, somewhere in South America.
In the 1970s and 1980s, young activists discovered video as a new medium and used moving images in their struggle for access to cultural expression for the many, not the few. They were researching and developing new forms of independent and participatory media work. This was an important step towards realizing the utopian promises of the digital age.