A converted mobile darkroom Airstream trailer, a four month cross-country road trip and seemingly endless free film. A sentence that sounds too good to be true, right? I mean, we have all probably had dreams about each one of these things, but all of them together? There's got to be a catch! Believe us, we were looking for it, there's none. We should also mention, the people driving the world's coolest darkroom across the States, don't even keep the film to themselves––they give them out to photographers to shoot upon their theme Red, White and Blue. Yes, we know, this little details turns these lucky bastards into analog saints. NYC-based artists Neil Hamamoto and his team are living this dream as we speak. FREE FILM : USA is currently on the road with a final destination: New York City and we have a special surprise for participants in NY, for which you can sign up right here at the bottom of the article. FREE FILM USA will tentatively be stopping by Williamsburg, Brooklyn on December 9-15 (will be confirmed soon so stay tuned!).
When we heard about this project, we couldn't help it. We needed to reach out to Neil to get to know this genius, find out more about how this came to be and most importantly, ask him how we could help support FREE FILM : USA in the best way possible.
We're excited to announce a giveaway we teamed up with FREE FILM : USA for their final New York City stop: Sign up in the form below and win one of 8 Lomography surprise film roll on top of your free roll provided by FREE FILM : USA during their New York City stop. All eight winners will also win the opportunity to get their very own feature in our Lomography magazine, featuring your results with this roll of film. But first: Learn more about FREE FILM : USA and how it all came to be.
Hi Neil! Tell us a little about yourself and Free Film USA.
I'm a conceptual artist primarily creating work in sculpture, painting, photography, and installation. I was born and raised in New York City and continue to practice here. Before pursuing sculpture as a full-time gig I graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering - Product Design and worked in the wood and metal shops for Jeff Koons. In addition to practicing as an artist, I also operate worthless studios a non-profit artist studio supporting new artists in the New York area by way of studio space, materials, tools, and technical assistance. FREE FILM : USA is the first nationwide public art project being produced by worthless studios a.k.a myself and the artists that have been working at the studio.
How did this project start?
FREE FILM : USA came out of the success and feedback from a similar, but much smaller version of this project called FREE FILM : CANAL.
FREE FILM : CANAL debuted in October of 2018 giving away 100 rolls of 35mm black and white film to local photographers on New York's canal street prompting them with the phrase "Canal." A jury selected the 100 best images which were printed as silver gelatins, the prints were hung for the public to enjoy and a self-published book was created to commemorate the project. The limited-edition run of books has sold out. Paired with my personal desire to uncover and explore more of the United States, FREE FILM : USA was born. FREE FILM : USA looks to replicate the success of Canal Street but on a much larger scale. The project to date has already activated over 1100 photographers across the US and is only 2/3 of the way complete.
Over six decades have passed since Frank’s seminal photography book, The Americans, was published, enlightening viewers to oddities and mundane scenes from American life, as well as pervasive class and race divisions that the photographer encountered on his cross-country trip documenting the country in the ‘50s.
Tell us about what you are currently working on with FREE FILM : USA
The FREE FILM : USA team is traveling across the USA distributing rolls of 35mm black and white film for free to anyone interested in participating. Photos are processed and printed in a converted mobile darkroom Airstream trailer, which the team is hauling through 18 cities from August through November 2019.
Given a due date and the prompt red, white and blue local photographers are asked for their time and creativity in shooting the roll as an expression of what the phrase means to them — the words, the place, the dream, the reality.
What is your favorite thing about working on this project?
I've gotten the most joy out of meeting and speaking with so many different types of people across the country. While the amount of driving can be tiresome and at times daunting it's a testament to our vast and diverse landscape. Experiencing all these landscapes in one contiguous journey has made the journey even more special. Getting closer with Caroline, Free and Sean have also made for an enjoyable experience and I hope our time together on the road makes for a bonding agent that will last a lifetime.
What can we look forward to seeing from you and Free Film USA in the future?
I am working day and night to continue growing my personal artistic career as well as growing the capacity of worthless studios and I hope we can continue to run renditions of the FREE FILM project in the future.
Sign up here, in order to win one of eight Lomography surprise film, rolls on top of your free roll of film provided by FREE FILM : USA during their New York City stop. The 8 winners will also get their very own Lomography Magazine feature, showcasing their results of the roll along with an interview.
Be sure to follow FREE FILM : USA on Instagram to follow their journey through the country and be up to date with any dates and stops in your area.