Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories

By Karen L. Ishizuka; Patricia R. Zimmermann | Go to book overview

26 The Stephen Lighthill Collection at the
UCLA Film & Television Archive
Los Angeles, California

ROSS LIPMAN

The UCLA Film & Television Archive’s collection has historically focused on professional film productions; its core consists of Hollywood studio features and Hearst newsreel footage. Over the years, however, a number of excellent examples of alternative film forms have made their way into the archive’s vaults. Prominent among these is a growing collection of American independent cinema. By its very nature independent film crosses the boundaries between “professional” and “amateur” quite freely, often exhibiting characteristics of both within the same production. An illuminating instance of this dynamic is the Stephen Lighthill Collection at UCLA.

Stephen Lighthill, now a professional cinematographer, began his career in the Bay Area in the 1960s by documenting the antiwar and civil rights movements, both locally and nationally. He filmed scores of protests, demonstrations, and rallies, and also documented key cultural moments such as the first Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in 1967. Lighthill was a journalism student with no professional production training, who was drawn into filmmaking through his own social activism.

His first major project as a cinematographer was Sons and Daughters, a documentary centering on the antiwar movement in Berkeley, by filmmaker Jerry Stoll. Out of this experience a number of the crew’s members, who, like Lighthill, were primarily activists, formed American Documentary Films, a collective devoted to radical filmmaking. Lighthill later went on to become a stringer for CBS news, but maintained his involvement with activist cinema at the same time. He helped film the Rolling Stones’ 1969 Altamont concert for the Maysles brothers’ Gimme Shelter, and contributed to such documentaries as Seeing Red, The Good Fight, and The Day after Trinity. Not only did he serve as director of photography on Mark

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