Last summer, when Bob Hercules used James Bond’s high-powered sound equipment to stage an open-air video show in Wicker Park, Hercules says people were drawn like flies to the flickering light of the screen. Now Hercules and Bond are back–with fancier gear, as in any good sequel.
This year’s two-hour presentation of short features by Hercules and others, Video Nocturne, is “sort of a Bauhaus drive-in,” Hercules cracks.
Hercules left his native Michigan in the mid-80s with a master’s degree in film and video production. After scouting both coasts, he landed in Chicago, where he picked up free-lance work–and began to express himself in both film and video.
“I did a satire about a bomb that lands in a suburban couple’s backyard on a Sunday afternoon. It doesn’t go off–it’s just sitting there in the ground, about 14 feet high. It’s a long story, but basically the guy falls in love with the bomb and the wife sees it as an eyesore.” Hercules titled it A Bomb Is a Man’s Best Friend. “It’s meant to be an allegory about living with 50,000 bombs in the world.”
Hercules continued with experimental video. But eventually, he says, “You have to make a living.” So, picking up clients from a former employer who left town, Hercules and a partner started their own video production business. He called it the Media Process Group–“It confuses people, but if you think about it it makes perfect sense.” The company now does tapes for the likes of 60 Minutes and PR giant Hill and Knowlton.
But the labors of Hercules aren’t limited to motivational reels for corporate robots. He’s produced concert footage of the Replacements and a documentary on Billy Bragg–both of which he’ll excerpt for the Wicker Park show.
He’ll also show a video that he shot at the 1984 Republican presidential convention. “We went down to the Salvation Army and bought some cheesy suits, and we just walked in with the camera. We had no press credentials.” For anchorman, Hercules recruited Berkeley street performer Stony Burke. “He kinda leads us through the convention,” says Hercules. He calls the piece Stony Does Dallas.
Hercules once used the Wicker Park neighborhood in another video he’ll show called The Lottery Bureau–a dark, moody story with an oblique message about homelessness. Hercules chose the piece for its neighborhood connection but worries that it might dampen the mood: “It should be a fun night, a celebration.”
Video Nocturne kicks off at sundown (my almanac says that’s 8:01) on Saturday, August 10, next to the Wicker Park field house, 1425 N. Damen. Call 850-1300 for more information. (Rain site is the park’s gym.) It’s free. “There’ll be some surprises,” promises Hercules.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Charles Eshelman.