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How long ago, those crazy ‘70s

Scott Taylor, on the road to a film compilation of island life in the 1970s.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Scott Taylor, on the road to a film compilation of island life in the 1970s.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

Were you here for the ‘smiley face’ decade? Filmmaker Scott Taylor wants to hear from you.

Disco, Watergate, Munich, women’s lib, gay rights, pet rocks and polyester.

A top-of-the-head sampling of iconic 1970s concepts points to a decade that’s confoundingly difficult to encapsulate, even if you were there. It was a time of transition, contradiction and a weirdly cynical malaise that circled around the fake be-all catch-phrase: Have a nice day.

Did we forget it all? Or did we shovel it under the rug? Scott Taylor wants to find out, and in particular, get a handle on what this island was up to during that ephemeral decade. But he’s having a little trouble getting material.

“It’s a lost time. It is for a lot of people in a lot of places,” he said.

Toward the middle of last year, Taylor set out to gather stories, archival photos, Super 8 film stock, anything that would help him document Bainbridge in the 1970s on film.

Having himself arrived fresh out of college in 1971 and in some respects having grown up with the island, the period and the potential material were close to his heart.

He was also curious about how the easygoing Bainbridge he knew became a place characterized by an unscientifically documented, arguable-but-recognizable “Thanks for visiting, now go away” gestalt, one that today’s islanders nervously laugh at with a sense of too-close-for-comfort personal recognition.

“I don’t want to imply that it was magic, or that it was anything special,” he said. “But it was our history.”

Taylor began by digging up a handful of old buddies and sitting them down.

“’What brought you to the island, and what made you stay?’” he asked them. “That alone would make a good movie.”

Stories flowed, and memories were shared of a period when serial house-sitting constituted a perfectly acceptable form of residency, lack of professional direction incurred no judgment, and old-timers and newcomers comfortably shared space.

“There was a shared sense of community that caused people to stay,” he said.

Taylor’s cache of insider stories eventually ran dry, though, and the Bainbridge Historical Society archives came up short. He was left craving fresh, diverse perspectives on that time – not just those represented by, as he put it jokingly, a group of “quasi-hippies” like himself.

“Even though that’s eminently fascinating, that’s not what I’m after,” he said.

So in an effort to widen his potential pool, Taylor will present a 10-minute short on the second day of this year’s Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival that’s half work-in-progress, half pitch. Here’s what my cronies and I know of Bainbridge Island during the “me” decade, he’ll say. How about you?

Taylor’s participation in this, the tenth anniversary of the festival – running all weekend at the Historic Lynwood Theatre – is fitting. Festival founder and organizer Kathleen Thorne points out that Taylor’s 1977 short feature “Birth of a Salesman,” filmed at Walt’s Lynwood Market and Fort Ward and later “rejected by some of the nation’s finer movie houses,” as its promotional material put it, was a primary impetus for the festival.

Knowledge of its punch line, Thorne said, should be a requirement for anyone wishing to call him or herself an islander.

Taylor admits that his film career didn’t go very far after “Birth of a Salesman,” but this latest effort has his creative juices flowing and his historical curiosity piqued. He’s anxious for folks who were here then to go into their sheds, basements, boat houses and dresser drawers to dig out and share their memories, stories and archives with him.

In true 70s fashion, he promises the process will be mellow.

“I’m happy to go out of my way, and no one has to work too hard,” he said.

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Only on Bainbridge

The 10th anniversary Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival runs March 15-16 at Lynwood Theatre. The festival is free; donations benefit the Celluloid Bainbridge Filmmakers Finishing Fund.

Here’s the two-day listing; for more information on individual films, see www.artshum.org.

Saturday, March 15

10 a.m.: “The Independent Film: From Start to Finish”; Charles Oliver. 11 a.m.: “The Six Day Bicycle Race: America’s Jazz Age Sport.” 2006. Noon: “Sentenced Home.” 2006. 1:15 p.m.: “Shadow of the Salmon.” 2007. 2 p.m.: “Poetry Is! Bainbridge Island Poets in Performance.” Kent Chadwick: “Language at Melting Point.” 2003.Janet Norman Knox and Van Calvez: “TV Dinner with Van & Jan.” 2003.

Sunday, March 16

10 a.m.: “Film and the Law with Washington Lawyers for the Arts.” Noon: “Celebrating the Pike Place Market.” 2007. 12:35 p.m.: “Charles Wilkes and the United States Exploring Expedition.” 2006. 12:50 p.m.: “Seattle Kids Arirang.” 1:10 p.m.: “Shifting Currents.” 15 minutes. 2007. 1:30 p.m.: “Robots of the Sea.” 2007. 1:50 p.m.: “Peter Spencer Plays the Garden.” 2007. 2:20 p.m.: “Kyle: In Search of the Ultimate Shot.” 2007. 2:30 p.m.: “Of Spring.” 2008. 2:40 p.m.: “Only on Bainbridge.” 2008. 3:15 p.m.: “Over the Years: San Carlos Annual Poetry Reading.” 2007. 3:50 p.m.: “Bainbridge in the Seventies Preview” (a work in progress). 2008. 4:10 p.m.: “This is My Family.” 2007. 4:30 p.m.: “Cooking with Corene.” 2007. 4:45 p.m.: “Have I Got a Witness.” 2006-07. 5:35 p.m.: 48 Hour Film Contest Winners. Short features. 2007. 5:50 p.m.: “Birth of a Salesman.” 1977. 6 p.m.: “Engagement.” 2007. 6:30 p.m.: “Quiet City.” 2007.

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