Friday, September 27, 2002

Film + Bus + Freedom = Art
LA Weekly: Sept.27 - Oct. 2, 2002 
Francis DellaVecchia
Read the real article here.

JUSTIN CREDIBLE’S BOYFRIEND DUMPED HER. STORMING OFF TO GET DRUNK, SHE spotted a highly stylized graffiti-covered school bus. Justin wondered about this bus’ presence in her remote Northern California town. But before her buzz had worn off, she was on it, making a film. In You Can’t See Me Can You?, Justin takes off her clothes and bares her soul to her erstwhile boyfriend as she never could in person or on paper.

I met Justin when she stopped by Roger Mona Webster’s Venice studio, which serves as the home base for the bus that houses the Los Angeles Filmmakers Co-op. (Webster is a member of the co-op; he photographs LAFCO’s trips.) Emblazoned on the bus is a quote from Jean Cocteau: "Film will only become art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper." Daily, LAFCO edges closer to Cocteau’s dream by making the means of film production available to people like Justin at a minimal cost or free ("LAFCO supports widening access to digital video production so that socio-economically marginalized filmmakers can find their rightful place in the digital revolution," says its Web site).

Twenty-six-year-old founder Tao Ruspoli, an Italian-American filmmaker born in Thailand, bought the 1985 Chevrolet Bluebird school bus for $3,000 on eBay (where he was its only bidder), and outfitted it with all the tools necessary for modern filmmaking: a library for research, digital video cameras, lights, recording decks, three Macs for editing with Final Cut Pro, even a screening room (check it out at With the resources so available and immediate, non-filmmakers can experiment with blurring the traditional line between active creator and passive viewer, and make even the avocational user a more critical consumer of film.

One day, the collective hopes, it will have a fleet of buses rambling worldwide, distributing the power of filmmaking with anarchic ideals. Says Webster, "In a world of shrinking freedoms, this is a reaction to the crisis of what to do with creativity."

—Francis DellaVecchia