The Big Red Van


1974, producer: ED Berman, director: Clive Scollay, 18 mins, 16-mm film, color, excerpts (9 mins), original in the London Community Video Archive (LCVA).

Inter-Action Trust was described by the Council of Europe as “the most exciting community education/ arts organization in Europe” in the 1970s. Arguably, its most dynamic innovation was the Inter-Action Community Media Van. This large van was modified to show video from its side, back projection film viewed from the rear with a theater platform on the roof. It had a copying machine to produce instant leaflets and a sound system to announce its arrival and purposes. Perhaps its most unique feature was one of the first few radiotelephone systems in the UK, which was installed and used to ring mayors and council leaders/ officers for the gathered locals to put questions to the usually distant authorities. This was an experiment in doorstep democracy. Hundreds of volunteer organizations and community groups have made use of the Community Media Van. New methods for public participation were tested and developed. This film was transferred to video to promote similar creations for local democracy elsewhere.