peripheral produce

By Brian Libby

According to the old saying, the Velvet Underground’s first album only sold about 1,000 copies but everyone who bought it started a band. Perhaps something similar could be said of Matt McCormick’s Peripheral Produce screening series, which returns at 8 p.m. Saturday to the Hollywood Theatre. More underground whisper than big splash when the screenings began, Peripheral Produce has championed and inspired local indie filmmakers from the start.

Peripheral Produce returns at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Peripheral Produce debuted in 1996 at Portland rock club Thee O in Old Town (better known in its previous incarnation as the legendary X-Ray Café). McCormick had recently moved to Portland from Albuquerque and increasingly favored making experimental short films with super-8 and video cameras to playing in bands.

Only 14 people showed up that first night. But a succession of Peripheral Produce shows in the late 1990s helped introduce a number of artists who would go on to international acclaim, including director Miranda July, novelist/screenwriter Jon Raymond, filmmaker Vanessa Renwick, and McCormick himself. July, Raymond and McCormick had all seen their work rejected by the Northwest Film Center’s annual Northwest Film & Video Festival, so McCormick sought to exhibit his films and those of his friends in some of the same clubs his favorite bands played.

After numerous Peripheral Produce screenings in the ‘90s, it morphed into the Portland Documentary and Experimental film festival (better know as the PDX Fest) in 2002. But by the middle of the decade McCormick’s own filmmaking career had advanced enough that it was discontinued in 2009. After three years however, McCormick has put together what he’s calling a 15-year retrospective of the Peripheral Produce and PDX Fest days, which he’ll present  Saturday (August 4) at the Hollywood Theatre.

“There was something magical happening that I am not sure is happening now,” McCormick says of local experimental film in the late 1990s and early 2000s, “or at least it was happening very differently.  It is important to point out just how much computers and the Internet have changed things.  It is so easy to communicate these days that we take community for granted.”


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