It started in the Uptown balcony...
While attending a show at Oakland's Uptown music venue in 2013, a few of us "old timers" started talking about the Casa Loma bar at Fillmore and Fell in San Francisco back in the day...and how someone should make a documentary about it. That was the germination of an idea which soon grew to include the Upper and Lower Haight neighborhoods, then the whole of the San Francisco scene of the late eighties / early nineties as experienced by the young and hip; before the dot com boom, before cell phones, before social media. Also before back pain, stiff knees, glasses, kids, mortgages and menopause.
Well, I decided to take on the task, unaware of how truly huge it would be. It is now 5 years later and the team has grown and the project inches closer and closer to realization. A film company has donated gear, space and services, an arts non-profit has become our fiscal sponsor and now we have a website and are about to begin crowdfunding and grant writing. This project has seen ups and downs but we now have close to 20 interviews and for anyone that remembers that San Francisco of 1989...its worth it. Please JOIN US! This is not just my project - it is all of ours.
-Peter Paul Jacques
Club Owner, Playwright, Performer
Arts & Media Recruiter
Artist, TV Host
SF89 looks at the lives of young members of San Francisco’s underground art / nightlife scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s before the advent of the World Wide Web. It will focus on three to five main characters who arrived in historically tolerant San Francisco as hip twenty-somethings, following the same beacon as their counter-cultural predecessors to pursue a life alternative to the mainstream.
Using interviews, photography and never-before-seen archival footage our characters will share their memories and discuss witnessing the city’s shifting sociopolitical landscape of the last thirty years. They will present a range of attitudes on the subject of change: one may live almost entirely in the past, while another is focused on the future and others may find they are caught somewhere in the middle.
On the surface, SF89 is a fun, nostalgic romp through a pre-dot-com San Francisco while at a deeper level, personal issues of memory, aging, and dealing with change will be examined. This comes at a perfect time with our “Generation X” characters reaching their early fifties and reflecting on their past. It also touches on the ongoing conversation on how San Francisco continues to change and gentrify due to the economy. Observing yesterday we can discover the roots of today and hopefully benefit by foresight into the future.
San Francisco has always had an incredibly diverse population and the project reflects that diversity. People of different races, sexes, orientations, genders, ages, abilities and incomes are both behind and in front of the camera. Our stories show the similarities of our personal lives as well as the differences in how people are caught up in social and economic change. Nobody escapes change but we do experience it in different ways. Interview subjects include men and women, gay and straight, different genders, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Latinos, disabled, working poor, middle class and wealthy individuals.
The film’s goals are to celebrate a time in the audience’s life that was thrilling and consequential, to give voice to a group that is not often heard, and to spark conversations between generations, providing some insight into the nature of change, aging and surviving culture shifts by showing examples of people who are still around and still relevant despite being portrayed as the contrary by the youth-focused media and conventional wisdom.
“If my generation is remembered for anything, it will be as the last one that remembers the world before the Internet.”
–Lev Grossman, author The Magician’s Land (2014)