By Her Aim Is True director, Karen Whitehead
For a few years now, I have shared a close affinity with the subject of my film, Jini Dellaccio, not least because we are both quite unknown and have had to pursue our artistic direction in traditionally male dominated fields. Right now, though, I am finding it a bit daunting to be the unheard of filmmaker with a documentary about to screen in coming months. But in another way it is fitting, given the premise of Her Aim Is True …
Jini Dellaccio’s seminal artistry documenting the Sixties’ indie music and rock ‘n’ roll scene coupled with her intriguing life story is what compelled me to venture beyond my media roots in journalism, and years producing shorter films for TV current affairs slots. I soon found myself discovering so much more about myself in the process of uncovering Jini’s story as an anthem for indie spirits and particularly women artists.
In my early conversations with Jini I was intrigued by how she found a way to do what she wanted to do, first as a saxophone player in the 1930s Jazz scene and then as a self-taught fashion photographer in the 1950s – all this as a precursor to taking on album covers in her middle-age for some of America’s original punk rockers in the 1960s, (The Wailers and The Sonics). Jini never allowed fear of being unknown as a fashion and then a rock photographer to limit her choices or cramp her style. In the same way, decades later and an ocean away, I ignored suggestions that I should perhaps work in features for newspapers when all I really wanted to be was a crime reporter and tackle “meatier” investigative topics like I was used to seeing my male counterparts do.
The truth is that most of us fly under the wire navigating our career paths – and I have come to the conclusion that is completely fine, as long as we keep finding our creativity. During filming, one of my interviewees described Jini Dellaccio as kind of invisible, but he thoughtfully added that must have made it easier for her to take all those stunning photos – she just quietly went about her artistry, ignored. When I heard this, I knew that Jini Dellaccio was undoubtedly an early documentarian, always in the shadows but recording what was in front of her lens, undeterred. As such, she captured with her Hasselblad camera some of the first large-scale live performance rock concerts in the US as well as the remarkable indie music scene in the Pacific Northwest that paved the way for its punk and grunge successors. And you have never heard of her.
While I am OK about being anonymous, I would like that to change for Jini Dellacio’s artistry, and I am hoping with screenings of Her Aim Is True that will happen. There have also been plenty of anonymous supporters of this film including dozens of women (you know who you are) cheering me on. And what is really important to all of us, and me as the filmmaker at the center of revealing this all, is that this story finds its audience.
You don’t need to know my name for that, just immerse yourself in my storytelling.