Open Book: MM Serra & Michael Mangieri

Monira Foundation presents: Open Book with MM Serra and Michael Mangieri.

Recipes for Disaster: A Handcrafted Film Cookbook by Helen Hills. Revisited by MM Serra and Michael Mangieri


Helen Hills was a pioneer in handcrafted and DIY filmmaking. She tragically passed away in 2007. She left behind this amazing document with filmmaking instructions, drawings, tips and tricks. This book was originally written in 2001 and revised by Helen in 2005 while she was living in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina with her husband and collaborator Paul and their 10 month old son and pet pig Rosie.


It has been 19 years since since Helen last revised her book. MM has been teaching Non-Camera Filmmaking at the New School and feels that to inspire and stimulate a new generation of filmmakers the information needs to be revised, revisited, and updated for so that they can have the pleasure of working in analog filmmaking with currently available techniques, recipes and materials.


Helen Hills divided her book into four sections. We have decided to expand two of them to focus on practices that are environmentally friendly and non-toxic. These allow for creating moving images without the use of a darkroom or camera.


Our chapters are:




Techniques using 16mm clear leader and black leader that have not been exposed in a camera.




Recipes for using found 16mm exposed footage such as newsreels, educational films (pre-video), and short ads. These are incorporated into new assemblages, collages and non-linear narratives.

Michael Mangieri
is a chef and interdisciplinary artist based on the Lower East Side. Filmmaking, performance, somatic improvisation, fermentation, decomposition, and radical hospitality feed investigations into embodied life cycles. He has trained and labored as a cook, farmhand, shepherd, commercial fisher, urban gardener, master composter and baker of sourdough bread. As a performer he has appeared in collaborative works by Marija Krtolica, Ximena Garnica/Leimay Ensemble, Tadashi Endo, Bread and Puppet Theater, and the Aftselakhis Spectacle Committee.



MM Serra is an experimental filmmaker, curator, author, professor at Parsons at the New School and was the Executive Director of Film-Makers’ Cooperative from 1990-2023. Her first five films (NYC, 1985, Nightfall, 1984, Framed, 1984, PPI, 1986, Turner, 1987) were preserved and digitized by Anthology Film Archives Preservation series Re-Visions: American Experimental Film 1975-1990. Since 1982, MM Serra has created over 31 films. Select 2021-2024 Screenings include Body as Playground, Body as Battleground: Sexuality and the Female Gaze at Howl Happening Gallery 2021. In 2021 she completed Endless Possibilities: Jack Waters and Peter Cramer. The film presents plagues, disease and the breakdown of communication just as Covid19 exploded. The film screened at international festivals and venues including Mimesis Documentary Festival and as part of Soft Network’s “Artists on Camera 1967-2021” which screened virtually at Metrograph. May 27th 2023 Serra’s one person show “Experimental Woman: Films of MM Serra” screened at Millennium Film workshop; curated by Erica Schreiner. On March 16th 2024 Society of Media and Cinema Studies hosted a round table discussion “A Celebration & Reflection on Film Maker, Curator MM Serra’s 30+ years as Executive director of the Film-makers Cooperative”, panelists include Ron Gregg, Columbia University; Chris Straayer, New York University; Vera Dika, Pratt; Ger Zielinski, Toronto Metropolitan University; Drake Stutesman, Editor of Framework:The Journal of Cinema and Media, New York University; and others. On April 3, 2024 at Brooklyn College Serra was a speaker for the “Unspoken Issues within LGBTQIA+” Lecture, Screening of her films, and panel discussion with Devon Narine-Singh. On May 25th, 2024 MM Serra’s film; “To Jonas, with Love: Tales & Visions of Community” will be presented at  Salt Lake City Public Library, Cauldron International Film and Video Festival. Since 1993 as Executive Director of Film-Makers’ Cooperative, she has overseen hundreds of celluloid restorations including internegatives for Maya Deren, Storm De¡ Hirsch’s City Songs, and others. MM Serra lives and works in New York, where she continues to curate programs, make films, and create community.



Selected Publications include the following: Duke University Press “Women’s Experimental Cinema” – Critical Frameworks- “Eye/Body: The Cinematic Paintings of Carolee Schneemann”, October 2007 , second printing in 2008 (With Kathryn Ramey). Millennium Film Journal “MFJ 51 Experiments in Documentary- Titled: “Chop Off 2008” Winter 2009/2010. Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media 59.2, “MM Serra; Art (Core) and the Explicit Body” Fall 2018 (Wayne State University Press). A booklet for a compilation DVD of Serra’s work and writings (including her Fall 2018 Framework article (The Films of MM Serra: Art(core) and the Explicit Body) was released internationally at the beginning of 2021 by RE:VOIR in Paris. Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media 61.2, “MM Serra Presents: Notes from the Lower East Side Redux” Fall 2020. Awards include a 2016 and 2024 grant from the New York Council for the Arts and New York Foundation for the Arts. Serra’s film A Lot of Fun For the Evil One is catalogued at The Library of Congress under Jazz on the Screen by David Meeker. On June 6th, 2013, MM Serra was a recipient of the Kathy Acker Award for Lifetime Achievement of Excellence in Avant-Garde Art. She received a second Kathy Acker Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021. In 2023, Serra was awarded the Emily Harvey Venice Residency Grant for the creation of “Liquid Light; Three Historic Women Artists, Veronica Franco, Marchesa Luisa Casati, and Peggy Guggenheim.”