Tony Dowmunt

Albany Video

Born 1951 in Newick in the southeastern English County of Sussex. He works in London and lives in Lewes. Community video activist. Professor at Goldsmiths University of London. His teaching and research focuses on documentary film. Director of the London Community Video Archive (LCVA).

00:00 Start. 01:39 Home. 02:33 A distanced father, but a secure existence. 03:37 Alienated from my social background. 05:09 My life at boarding schools / Film and identity. 06:48 At public school, 1964-68. 07:59 Studying English Literature in Oxford / Hanging out with American draft dodgers. 08:58 Pursuing my interest in film. 09:53 1972 – A two year course at a film school in Guilford. 11:11 George Stoney and the mirror machine / A crash course in community video. 13:25 What I learned from community video in North America. 14:24 Back in the UK – Finishing my film course and buying my first video portapak / Meeting Su Braden. 16:16 Aylesbury Estate, South East London / Bedrock of a social and community revolution? 17:50 Video with young people. 20:29The Association of Video Workers / John Hoppy Hopkins. 21:19 Writing up my video experience with young people / From process to product / I join Albany Video. 24:13 Becoming a franchised workshop / Channel 4 / The Vision of Alan Fountain / Funding from the GLC (Greater London Council). 26:14 How we cooperated with Channel 4 / Beyond Our Ken. 28:11 Other locally based productions for Channel 4 / We lose our franchise / Being White / Albany Video Distribution. 30:53The Miners’ strike 1984-85 / A highlight of nationwide video campaigning. 32:12 International exchange / Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA). 33:54 Setting up our own company APT / Remote Control, Channels of Resistance, Tactical TV. 37:21 Teaching the MA course in Documentary at Goldsmiths, University of London. 38:59 Credits (German translation: book Rebel Video, p. 87-104)

Into the Darkness

Albany Video

1977, realization: Tony Dowmunt, 19 mins, ½ inch, black-and-white, 7 mins (excerpts), original in the London Community Video Archive (LCVA).

Scripted and made by and with a group of young teenagers in a community room on the Aylesbury Estate: their version of a Star-Trek-style drama.

Group discussion between Tony Dowmunt (T) and the teenagers (A, B, C) after Into the Darkness was finished
T   What did you get out of using video over the last two years?
A   We learned how to use a camera and all the equipment.
T   What has video got that woodworking or metalworking have not got?
B   Everyone does woodworking, but not everyone does video filming. It is interesting, and you can tell your friends.
T   So it is interesting because it is different. Are there particular things about video that you can’t do with anything else?
B   When I for the first time walked in and saw myself on TV it was overwhelming.
C   The first time I felt really silly.
T   What did you learn about it?
B   Don’t get too excited about video!

Being White

Albany Video

1987, realization: Tony Dowmunt, 30 mins, U-matic low band, black-and-white, 14 mins (excerpts), original in the London Community Video Archive (LCVA).

An educational tape made with racism awareness coaches, designed for use with (mainly) white audiences to focus on the (at the time) hidden issues of whiteness and white privilege, and how these are reflected across class and ethnicity.

Excerpts from interviews, three women A, B, C.
A   White means individual variety, and black is still a generalization.
B   White people colonize the definition of normal. They walk around in their daily lives not being white, but just being normal. So that makes everybody something else. Until white people agree to start becoming white people, so that there is room for black people and brown people and all other forms of people and get out of the space that is defined by normality.
C   I can remember my Dad say in Deptford (South London): Before everyone was going on about black people, we said it was the Irish, in Deptford, that got all the stick. It is always someone. Because we have been brought up to be such … Society makes us think that we are such great people, the white people, or the English people even, not just white. English people, British people are so powerful, you know, the Empire and all that …