Film

Over many years, I’ve been involved in the production of films and video as producer and/or director. Here are some of my favorites.

27 Apr 2011

Ranch: The Alan Wood Ranch Project (excerpt)

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The Ranch Project was an art installation in the foothills of the Rockies, which Steve DeNure and I filmed over the course of year, through the 4 seasons, with his ingenious time-lapse 16 mm Bolex photography. In the film-on-art genre, ‘Ranch’ is a clever mix of old Westerns, TV news, and gorgeous experimental film making with a very cool soundtrack. Jay Scott in the Globe called it “a stunning documentary about a work of art… that actually has become a work of art.” The artist is Alan Wood.

In 1984-85, I also produced a Punk rock doc for TV called Not Dead Yet. Peter Wintonick (Manufacturing Consent), writing in Cinema Canada, called it “a model for all documentarians.” During this period I also started a publishing company, Razorback Press, to produce a satire of men’s magazines and advertising called The Best of Playboar which sold over 500,000 copies worldwide.

Ranch: The Alan Wood Ranch Project, a film by Steve DeNure and Chris Lowry (1985, 25 min.) is available on DVD from Ecotone.

29 Mar 2011

Karate Kids

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Karate Kids was a film I produced in 1989 when I served as Director of Educational Media at Street Kids International (1988 to 1998).  Here I produced animated films and the programs that delivered them to street educators in over 100 countries. Dealing with street life and HIV/AIDS, Karate Kids was the first of SKI’s educational cartoons, distributed in multiple languages around the world, and still in use today.  It was a co-production of SKI and the NFB, dreamed up by Peter Dalglish, and directed by the great Derek Lamb with Kai Pindal as chief animator.

Karate Kids, Derek Lamb, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

25 Mar 2011

Chambers: Tracks and Gestures (Excerpt)

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Here is a clip from an award winning film I produced in 1981-82:  a biography of the Canadian painter Jack Chambers.  I worked with director/cinematographer John Walker and Altantis Films.  

“… a fascinating and invaluable portrait.”
J. Hoberman, THE VILLAGE VOICE (New York)

“One of Canada’s most
important artists… a painter
of fierce dedication and uncompromising vision.”
David MacFarlane, MACLEANS MAGAZINE

Shot on location in Spain and Canada, this visually lyrical film provides a carefully constructed narrative of the artist’s complex, inspired life. As a young art student Chambers left the provincial town of London, Ontario in the early 1950’s and sailed to Naples. In Spain he broke into Picasso’s house to ask him for advice, and ended up enrolling at the Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. He lived in Spain for nine years, and when he came back to Canada he brought with him an artistic discipline as sharp as Spanish steel, a sophisticated Argentinean wife, and a new religion—Catholicism. The film includes the full range of Chambers’ work up until his death at the age of 47 including oil paintings, drawings and experimental films. His effort to integrate the influences of photography and to reconcile abstract art with the conservative technical tradition that he embraced in Spain reflects the central conflicts that have defined artistic expression in the 20th century. For the last nine years of his life, Chambers struggled with leukemia, traveling as far as India in search of a cure, yet during his last years he produced much of his most radiant work.

“…reveals the heightened perception and transcendence
that comes after terrible inner struggle. Exquisite…”
Joyce Nelson, CINEMA CANADA

“Strong, precise, romantic and real…
a moving picture of Jack Chambers… an acknowledged art hero.”
ARTMAGAZINE

Tracks and Gestures includes penetrating interviews with Jungian analyst and writer Marion Woodman, critic and scholar Ross Woodman, multimedia artist and co-founder of Canadian Artists Representation (CAR) Kim Ondaatje, and the great Spanish realist painter Antonio Lopez. It also includes original footage of masterpieces by Goya, El Greco, Velazquez, and Rembrandt from the Prado Museum in Madrid. The film has a delightful original musical score, and is narrated by two of Canada’s finest actors, Ted Johns and Cedric Smith.

I also wrote about a short review essay about the 2012 Jack Chambers exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario in The Mark News.

WINNER OF SEVEN INTERNATIONAL FILM AWARDS

BEST DOCUMENTARY over 30 minutes,
CFTA (GENIE) Awards, 1982
BEST DOCUMENTARY CINEMATOGRAPHY,
Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards, 1983
BEST DOCUMENTARY EDITING,
Canadian Film Editors Awards, 1983
BEST FILM OF THE FESTIVAL, Yorkton Film Festival, 1983
BEST HUMAN CONDITION FILM, Yorkton Film Festival, 1983
BRONZE MEDAL, Houston International Film Festival, 1983
BLUE RIBBON for Best Documentary,
American Film Festival, New York 1984

The 56 minute film can be purchased on DVD at the Art Gallery of Ontario, or directly from Ecotone.