Energized by the advent of portable video, New York’s Raindance Corporation were pioneers in a movement to democratize media by putting the means of production in the hands of citizen journalists.
Cofounded in 1969 by Chicago native Michael Shamberg, who wrote for the City News Bureau before moving to Time Magazine, Raindance created some of the first-ever video installations, and published the magazine Radical Software, a bible of 1970s media activism.
Shamberg went on to orchestrate guerilla video coverage of the 1972 Republican and Democratic national conventions through San Francisco’s Top Value Television, then parlayed this work into a career producing such Hollywood pictures as Pulp Fiction and Erin Brockovich as Danny DeVito’s partner in Jersey Films.
He’s been back in Chicago as producer of Steven Soderburgh’s Matt Damon thriller Contagion, and he’s attached as producer of the in-development Devil in the White City, based on Erik Larson’s historical novel, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. H.H. Holmes, the Englewood serial killer who hunted his victims at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
Shamberg joins his compatriots in the first-ever Raindance Reunion, organized by Loyola professor Elizabeth Coffman, codirector of the in-progress Louisiana wetlands documentary Veins in the Gulf, which I wrote about in The Reader last summer.
The Raindance Reunion is Tuesday, Nov. 30, 5-7 p.m. at Loyola University’s Information Commons, 6501 N. Kenmore Ave., 4th Floor, and streams live.