Scarred Films presents: an Alternative Tentacles DVD Release, in cooperation with Dream Militia


Press from The San Francisco Chronicle

Rock ground zero
'924 Gilman Street' Documentary maker 
hoped to inspire copycat do-it-yourself clubs
Reyhan Harmanci

   Jack Curran got the idea to make a documentary about well-known Berkeley all-ages cooperative venue 924 Gilman Street (commonly referred to as Gilman Street) from two sources: his College of San Mateo film Professor Jay Rosenblatt and the skateboarding documentary "Dogtown and Z-Boys."
   "One of the first things he taught me was to film what you know," Curran says, "so you don't fake it and it's not so much homework. It'll come across as sincere. I wanted to film something, and I thought Gilman Street would be a great thing to document."
   Although Curran is resolute that discussing his film is not tantamount to discussing himself, he does allow that he was in a band that played Gilman Street. It's hard to imagine any young Bay Area punk musician in the '90s not playing there. The list of iconic rockers Curran interviews includes Jello Biafra, Ian MacKaye, Lars Frederiksen, Matt Freeman, Dave Scattered and Sweettooth. The film includes performances by Operation Ivy, Pansy Division, Fleshies, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Against Me, Jason Webley, Panty Raid, Screeching Weasel, Pinhead Gunpowder, Dominatrix, D.S.B. , and Atom and His Package.
   One of the first decisions Curran made was to veto any voice-from-God documentary narration. The story is told through interviews and concert footage. "It's important for me to have volunteers and musicians tell the story," he says, "because I don't think one person should speak for the place."
   Curran didn't want to speak for Gilman in an interview either, but he did say he could attribute the venue's success (it's been around since 1987) to the things that haven't changed. It is totally volunteer run. It's members only (although membership dues will run you just $2 a year). It is all-ages and no alcohol is served. Through twice-monthly meetings, issues are raised and duties are divvied up. It's an idealistic operation that has lasted.
   For touring musicians, it offers the rare opportunity to play outside the usual club scene. "It's so much better than what they normally have to deal with. Shows are usually about money and alcohol sales -- and there aren't that many all-ages shows, because you barely make any money off of kids," Curran says.
   For those who believed in the ethics behind Gilman Street, it was a great place to play. "You'd barely make gas money but that wouldn't matter," he says.
   Gilman Street has been the model for other venues -- such as New York's ABC No Rio in lower Manhattan -- but Curran hopes that his documentary can further encourage young people who are sick of being shut out of rock shows because they aren't a source for alcohol revenue.
   "I had this idealistic dream -- we were hoping to inspire kids in other towns to do something similar. By laying it out, showing how each aspect of running the club goes and how simple it is, we could show it was possible," he says. "So touring bands next summer would have an easier time."

Reyhan Harmanci,