Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Berlusconi’s Mousetrap – an interview with Eamonn Crudden

The footage that makes up “Berlusconi's Mousetrap,” an account of what happened in Genoa at the G8 meeting three years ago, was shot by as many as 200 videographers. Two weeks were spent going through 300-400 hours of video material to produce a more manageable 14 hours of footage. This was truly a group and multi-national effort. From this 14 hours, Crudden compiled the two-hour film. Other people made their own films from this material, including “Genoa-Redzone,” made by a team in Britain.

The film has been shown at film festivals in Ireland, but copyright law and permissions make screening it on mainstream television or in cinemas a big problem and so far it has not been seen on Irish television, apart from a very small clip on a programme called “Sampler.” Ironically, perhaps, some of the most shocking footage of police brutality was seen on a private Italian television station, owned by Berlusconi. This was broadcast on the weekend of the G8 summit, apparently by accident, while the voiceover continued to talk about anarchist violence. It was ten minutes before the mistake was noticed and the tape was ended.

Crudden pays tribute to the Italian alternative media community, which is very strong on account of Berlusconi's chokehold on the media in Italy. He describes conspiracy theorising as a national pastime in Italy: hence the title of film.

His latest project is a film about the protests that have taken place in Shannon airport in Ireland, which is being used by the US as a stopover for soldiers on the way to Iraq, despite the fact that the Irish government claims to be neutral. He lists his influences as John T. Davis, Big Noise NYC, Ricardo Dominguez, the Palace Brothers andthe Situationists.

At the time you went over to Genoa would you have called yourself as an Indymedia film maker?

The whole experience of making a no-budget documentary about the protests against the IMF and World Bank in 2000 in Prague fed into this film. It was there I first heard about Indymedia and met some of them. A group of 10 of us travelled to Genoa specifically to work as a video crew with Indymedia and to begin collecting material for the film generally.

Tell me about your development as a film maker.

I am mostly self-taught. I got help with this from a renegade producer in RTE Cork while making music videos for “No Disco,” a music programme. I made 40 low – no budget music videos in a 30-month period once around 1994-1996 and that was the best training in the world. The National College of Art and Design in Dublin is where I taught myself the digital way of working a few years ago. There was more learning at Stopwatch TV making social documentary style pieces for three years for “@last TV” 1997-1999. I also learned a lot from UK Indymedia type heads recently and specifically from watching shutdown in Seattle and “Crowd Bites Wolfe” by Guerillavision UK.

One of the first things that inspired me was seeing “Roger and Me” by Michael Moore. There was something about him bumbling around in front of the camera without complicated technical processes. I hadn't seen anything like it before: this guy, with no resources and no access to the thing he was making the film about, was still able to make such a powerful film. I remember particularly the woman with the rabbit skins in Flint, Michigan. He was able to tell a story with minimal resources, wandering around this fucked up town. He was only half trying to follow the man he was supposedly following. “Bowling for Columbine” I though was good as well, though I would have some problems with it. I haven't seen “Fahrenheit 911”, but I've heard that it has absolutely no mention of Israel or Palestine.

At what point (if any) did you grow disillusioned with mainstream media? Or was it a gradual process?

To be honest it was realising that I was directing stuff for TV and I had absolutely no control over the final way it was edited. And I suppose realising how cheap digital equipment was making production. I used to work making music videos and TV and it was very expensive. I was made very aware of this when I was going out with a professional TV crew. The people I was working for would say: “Look you're going to shoot for eight hours and it's costing us five or six grand, so you better fucking get it right”. By the end of my time I was saying: “Why don't you just buy me a digital camera, give me the extra four grand and I'll go and shoot for a month and I'll make you a documentary about something?”. That is not the culture of TV in Ireland. Everything is very regimented: cameramen, soundmen, producers. After three years I wanted to get my hands on a digital camera and a mate, who'd never filmed anything before, and go and make a film. So we did. We went and shot “We're not Warriors”, a film about the protests against the IMF and the World Bank in Prague, in three days. It was very much a learning experience.

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