Polaroid Wall Party updates history of film community

Tomorrow’s Polaroid Wall Party at the Wishbone will bring together many of the pioneers who started building Chicago’s film community long before computers took over the editing suite.

“Everyone wants to see what has become of each other,” says IPA cofounder Scott Jacobs, who organized the 5:30-8:30 p.m. event with Kartemquin, Film Archives and Media Burn Archives.

“There will probably be a couple of movie people there and some television people and some artists and a lot of people who went into teaching,” he adds. “I think we might be blowing the doors off the Wishbone.”

Many of the guests are part of the original Polaroid Wall, a collection of photos captured at IPA, The Editing House, between 1982 and 2000.

A few of the images featured on "The Polaroid Wall"

Featuring more than 380 producers, artists, editors and filmmakers, the wall eventually grew to include more than 2,600 images and occupy about twenty feet of the facility’s kitchen space.

According to Jacobs, it represents a “historical document.”

“There was a time in the 80s and 90s when media moved from analog to digital,” he explains. “In Chicago, we were creating a film community that grew from a few independent producers to about 5,000 people.”

IPA, The Editing House, played a key role in helping the community thrive. Cofounded by Jacobs, Tom Shea, Starr Sutherland, Virginia Robinson and Ted Hearne in 1982, the company was established in Lincoln Park to help independent producers, artists and “people who didn’t have a lot of money” finish their work.

“The price of admission was, we took their picture and put it on the Polaroid Wall,” says Jacobs.

The Polaroid Wall is available on iTunes

Among the ones who became fixtures on the wall are Bill Kurtis, Gordon Quinn and Ruth Ratny.

After IPA merged with Post Effects and moved downtown, Jacobs “put the photos in a closet for about 15 years.”

There they remained until Jacobs’ old partner, Tom Shea, “came by and said he wanted to digitize them and get the ball rolling.”

With the help of VSA director of user experience David Zerlin and programmer Scott Munn, Jacobs has since turned the Wall into a downloadable iPhone app that allows users to search and zoom through the photos.

Besides the camaraderie, the app promises to be one of the main attractions at tomorrow’s the party.

“We’re going to plug an iPhone into a projector and people can see what they looked like twenty years ago,” says Jacobs.

June 1, 2017 | Wishbone, 1001 W. Washington | 5:30-8:30 p.m.

For more details, click here.