Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 7:30pm
Christopher Wilcha's The Target Shoots First

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

The Target Shoots First
Christopher Wilcha, video, 1999, 70 mins
Introduced by Sasha Frere-Jones

In 1993, recent college grad Christopher Wilcha landed his first real job at the offices of mail-order music giant Columbia House in New York, where he discovered that his knowledge of punk rock minutiae was more valuable than his philosophy degree. Columbia was looking for a way to tap into the post-grunge market, and needed a twentysomething informant who would help them tell Bad Brains from Bad Religion. To document his new life, Wilcha began bringing his Hi-8 camera to work, eventually recording more than 200 hours over a two-year period. After leaving the company in 1995, he edited his old tapes into The Target Shoots First, a first-person account of how the Age of Cobain played out inside the music industry’s most unglamorous wing.

Low-key, lo-fi, and unpretentious, Target is a dead-on early 90s time capsule. Wilcha parses corporate life like a Margaret Mead of midtown, collecting footage of company retreats, office birthdays, and workplace injuries, analyzing the distinct cultures found on different floors of his building, and desperately broadcasting his own boredom. The film hones in on Wilcha and his co-workers as they refurbish Columbia’s “Alternative Music Club” with gusto; here, the co-optation of indie by mainstream isn’t a top-down decision, but a conflicted, bottom-up process, spearheaded by overeducated staff as a way to relieve day-to-day tedium. “Instead of seeing the magazine relaunch as an obligation, we see it as a creative opportunity,” Wilcha narrates. “Our only goal is to see what we can get away with.”

When it began screening in 1999, The Target Shoots First became something of a phenomenon; in the midst of the dot-com boom, a slightly older Generation X found themselves likewise reinventing the workplace, only now with infusions of clueless venture capital. Today, Columbia House has been made obsolete by the internet, “alternative” has been shattered into myriad micro-obsessions, and cameras are only allowed in offices for promotional lip-dubs. Two decades later, Wilcha’s post-collegiate diaries of his expedition into the corporate wilds now feel like images of a lost world.

Tickets - $7, available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.