One evening in the 60s I found myself at a The Ephesian Church of God in Christ, a black church in Berkeley, California. I was so overwhelmed by the people, the singing, the excitement and the preacher’s sermon, I though, all this must be captured in a film. So, I went on to make Ephesus, my first film. It was well received and went on to win several awards. And that's how my lifelong fascination with tilm began.
I guess you could say that I was part of the San Francisco Independent or "Underground" Film scene in the 1960s. It was a very exciting time in film history, quite unlike today’s film (and video) environment.
I wound up teaching film as well as shooting, producing and editing films. And to this day, film is a major focus of my life.
Ephesus (1965) 24 min 16mm
“Sunday night service at the Ephesian Church of God in Christ, Berkeley, California, where Elder Cleveland unwinds a roof-shaking, soul-quaking "Praise-God" sermon and Brother Hawkins and the choir (before they were the Edwin Hawkins Singers) lay down their nonstop gospel-rock holy-soul sound, with twin Hammond organs and a lot of help from everyone else, dancing, clapping, testifying and talking in tongues in one last Sunday night delirium of black America we may never see again. The church has since been torn down.”
Ephesus has won awards at the San Francisco International Film Festival; Foothill College Independent Filmmakers Festival; Tours Film Festival, France; Melbourne Film Festival, Australia; New York Film Festival; and was presented, by invitation, at the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, Chicago and the Popli Ethnological Film Festival, Italy..
The Artist Speaks (1966) 7 min, B&W, 16mm
Interview with local artist William Kaiserling, Jr. (filmmaker Jerry Mueller) who speaks of his philosophy and shows his work. A satire on both the typical television interview and that contemporary artist whose creations, methods and philosophy may or may not be nonsense. A serio/comic expression of the trouble many of us have in deciding whether much current art is serious or only a “put-on.”
Two Photographers: Wynn Bullock and Imogen Cunningham (1967) 29 min, B&W, 16mm (also video)
A dialog between these two internationally known photographers. We see their work and hear them discuss their backgrounds, their feelings about today, their personal philosophies and their work. Above all, we get to know them personally in their own environments.
…Padula guides us into the church on a day in 1965: first, quiet and empty—without participants. Throughout these opening scenes and the remainder of the film, the voice over of the church’s leader, Reverend E. E. Cleveland, provides a sense of coherence for the film by telling us which Biblical passages form the basis of his preaching style. The framework of the church service Is presented; the congregants slowly enter; the offering is taken; the testimonies are heard; the sermon begins. Quickly, we become involved in an overpowering religious experience which only visual imagery can provide so powerfully. And we, as audience, lurch forward to be immersed on the movement and sound; the film calls for involvement. Padula quickens and intensifies the pace of the film, and then suddenly the church doors close and the quiet Berkeley street is before us.
All of Fred's early films are currently in the process of being digitized and restored.
Anthology of Boats (1968) 5 min, B&W, 16mm
A comic documentary of a San Francisco State College Art Department design class that takes its homemade cardboard boats and attempts to float them in the campus swimming pool in the presence of some bewildered United States Navy officials.
Little Jesus (Hippy Hill) (1969) 15 min, B&W, 16mm (also video)
Beautiful people making vibrations with super-contemporary musical artifacts blended with aromatic-anaesthetizing gas masks dispensing Cannabis sativa producing arrogance of moral grandeur submerged within herds of small children and pet dogs. Captures an afternoon during Haight-Ashbury’s 1967 Summer Of Love on Hippy Hill where Haight Street ends in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
El Capitan 60 min 16mm (also video)
See the separate page about this film...
And cinematography for other filmmaker’s films including two of James Broughton's, Dreamwood and Golden Positions.
Fred Padula, Photography + Film
PO Box 254, Mill Valley CA 94942