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by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.  [September 18, 2008]





[]  Damon Packard's independent films may justly be described as mondo, gonzo, cult, underground, bizarro, surreal, or avant-garde. 

His oeuvre consists of some two dozen films, mostly shorts, plus two 45-minute mini-features (SpaceDisco One and The Untitled Star Wars Mockumentary) and one feature (the 2-hour Reflections of Evil).

On September 15, 2008, Los Angeles's libertarian Karl Hess Club screened two of Packard's short films and SpaceDisco One. Afterwards, Packard discussed his work with KHC members.

It's difficult to explain SpaceDisco One's "story." The film borrows characters and themes, and actual clips, from Logan's Run, Battlestar Galactica, 1984, and Fox News. The clips are intercut with original footage of Winston Smith and O'Brien and Logan's daughter, shot "guerrilla style" (i.e., without a permit) at Universal Citywalk, to create a gonzo vision of future and past.

SpaceDisco One's themes are anti-corporatist and anti-statist. Oceania's propaganda broadcast (lifted from the second film version of 1984) is played against Fox News images celebrating the War On Terror. 

SpaceDisco One also incorporates reality TV show "gotcha" footage of people arrested on camera. Packard's film demonstrates that war and police busts have become entertainment for dummied-down Americans.

SpaceDisco One contrasts these dark, post-9/11 images with late 1970s film and TV show clips, music, and pop cultural references. Packard regards the disco era as a "more innocent" time, full of creativity and freedom.




In his film, characters derived from TV's Buck Rogers and Logan's Run meet Winston Smith, and everyone tries to determine what went wrong in 1984. How did Big Brother replace roller discos?

Copyright law, established to encourage creativity by remunerating artists, is instead increasingly used to suppress criticism. One can thus interpret SpaceDisco One's wide usage of Hollywood film clips and music, intercut with 1984 references, to be an indictment of the erosion of Fair Use and its resultant curbing of Free Speech.





However, Packard says that he take excerpts from other films (in the music industry it's called "sampling") mostly because he can't afford to shoot his own footage. He added that the big studios don't much care about people at his low and obscure level. Problems only arise when a film seeks or attains commercial distribution.



One KHC attendee compared SpaceDisco One to "a collage," mixing previously existing elements into something new. She praised Packard for inventing a new and personal style of filmmaking, likening him to Luis Buñuel. Yet Packard's aesthetic is nearer that of Soviet directors in the 1920s. Due to a shortage of raw film stock, these directors used and reused footage from previous films, inadvertently developing a new and aggressively creative form of film editing, which French film critics later called "montage."

Despite the kudos, Packard is tired of doing so many "mish-mash" films, and wants to direct an entirely original story. So far, lack of funds have prevented it. He earns his living as a freelance film and video editor.




Universal Citywalk banned Packard from their premises because of his "guerrilla filmmaking" on their property. Yet that may have only fueled his growing reputation as an "underground artist."

SpaceDisco One was completed in May 2007. It screened at the New York Film Festival on October 6, 2007. It was also an official selection for the Hollywood Film Festival, the Lausanne Fest in Switzerland, the Lincoln Film Center in NY, Berkeley Fest, Tulsa Overground, the Dark Room in San Francisco, Il Corral in L.A., the Union Gallery in London, and many other festivals throughout 2007.

It will be distributed on DVD by OtherCinema, along with Lost in Thinking and other Packard shorts, in 2008.

Packard's previous epic, the hilariously grotesque Reflections of Evil, is available through

Damon Packard may be contacted throughhis MySpace page. Excerpts from his films are available on He is currently working on a "live action version of Miyazaki's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind."

Copyright 2008 by


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