Pensacola Punks

This was single-handily my most ambitious project to date. A culmination of my graduate work, training in historical documentaries, and growing up in Pensacola, FL. Knowing I was leaving the city that saw the best (and worst) of me for almost twenty years left a desire to leave a lasting mark. I wanted to record the oral histories of people who helped shape the punk and alternative scene that influenced my passions.

Going into the project I knew that it was impossible to record the entire history of the Pensacola Punk scene or to even talk to every influential person. The music, art, and people are too rich and vibrant for one person to record in six months. My one and only goal was to record as much as possible in order to set up a starting point for anyone to pick up and continue the project after I left. Much like the community itself, I envisioned this project as a collaboration for anyone with the drive to see their own scene documented. I sought out people from the first first "punk" bar McGuigan's Speakeasy to the promoters during punks heyday to the young punks creating music and art concurrently with the filming of this film in order to record the most well-rounded story possible. 

Upon completion, I had a total of more than 22 hours of interview footage, hundreds of pictures, a dozen fan zines, hundreds of show flyers, and music from many local musicians. This collection is preserved at Voices of Pensacola, an extension of the UWF Historic Trust and a local archive for collecting personal stories of Pensacola history.

While a deeply personal project, I also used this project as a graduate work-study course in order to earn the Video and Media Specialization for my Master of Arts in Public History.

The band Sour performing during a benefit show to go on their first tour with Dicks From Mars. Both bands received attention in the film as "representatives" of the future of the scene. (My words, not theirs.)

The band Sour performing during a benefit show to go on their first tour with Dicks From Mars. Both bands received attention in the film as "representatives" of the future of the scene. (My words, not theirs.)

The Film

"Pensacola Punks" acts as an introduction to the punk scene. The beginning examines what it is to be punk and a (very) brief glimpse of what it is to be punk in Pensacola. The main focus of the film was a look at the 309 Punk House and the current work to turn the house into a living museum and punk archive. I talked to former residents, musicians who performed at house shows, and people who partied there in an attempt to capture what set this house apart from other punk houses. The museum project has already met its first few funding goals and if you would like to learn more or contribute to the project click here

Me with just a few participants in the film after the public premiere of Pensacola Punks, May 19, 2017.

Me with just a few participants in the film after the public premiere of Pensacola Punks, May 19, 2017.

voices of Pensacola

As a branch of the UWF Historic Trust, Voices focuses on the multicultural, diverse, and individual histories that make up Pensacola's rich history. Providing a place to celebrate this history, Voices also provides a place to record oral histories and an archive collecting documents, photos, and other documents to preserve history. All of the interviews I conducted, as well as all of the other supplemental materials, are being processed as a collection. Sheyna Marcey was my liaison at Voices and was instrumental in planning the formal premiere, for UWF History professors, some members featured in the film, and family, and the public screening held during the May 19th Gallery Night in downtown Pensacola. The public screening drew at least 135 people to Voices over three hours, one of the center's biggest crowds. Lowell Bassett was my contact at Voices who helped me gather and submit my materials into the official archive. 

David McGuigan (right) and McGuigan Sr. circa 1980/81. Picture provided by David.

David McGuigan (right) and McGuigan Sr. circa 1980/81. Picture provided by David.

the future

Admittedly, after almost 6 months starting, researching, filming, and completing this film, I had a hard time figuring out what to do next. I knew that the project was not done, but I had to start planning a move across country. I never heard overwhelming negative comments about the movie, but some of the ones I did hear were complaints that I did not cover [fill in the blank]. This was to be expected. After moving and settling in to our new home, I am beginning to piece together what the future of "Pensacola Punks" will be. I plan to create at least two more shorts focusing on two pivotal moments in Pensacola's punk scene. First is the beginning, a bar affectionately called McGuigan's Speakeasy. Open 1979 to 1981, it may not have been the traditional punk club by today's standards, but at the time provided many aspiring rock and rollers a place to play and experiment with music. The second short will look at the "golden age" of punk in Pensacola, roughly 1985 to 1995. I talked to several promoters and musicians from this boon of fast paced, angst driven punk rock to try and figure out what made this time special for punks.