Mar 9, 2021

Painting John Porter


I was "yesterday" years old upon learning that John Porter had a documentary made about him. In 2001, a 12-minute video, Painting Porter, was made by Valesca R. Cerski, Jochen W. Detscher, Sascha Drews, Leah Jeffrey and Eva Ziemsen, then students at (my alma mater) York's Film & Video Department. To people enamoured of the city's "alternative" film scene, John needs no introduction. He has made over 300 Super8 films since 1968: each expanding the cinematic possibilities of such a "personal" medium. He is also a tireless supporter of independent-experimental cinema history and events, as evidenced on his exhaustive website super8porter.ca, which he has maintained since 2005. To the novice, Painting Porter serves a pretty good introduction to the man and his work. There are some nice clips of John's diverse films, such as his "Condensed Rituals" (time lapse pieces like Amusement Park or Landscape) or "Camera Dances" (studies in movement like Down On Me and Cinefuge). He is also seen on camera, discussing his work, doing "cinema busking" downtown, and sharing his views on censorship. (Fellow filmmaker Philip Hoffman is one of the other faces appearing on camera talking about John and his work.)

As far as I can tell, a Google search on this piece (until now) only brings two hits. The documentary is viewable on the website for the UK Cog Collective, where John did a show in 2007. It only seems to exist in cyberspace as a 320x240 Quicktime, so you might want to download it and blow it up in the video player of your choice. The Cog Collective programme notes for John are here. The direct link for Painting Porter is here.