Q+A With Cineworks Workshop Instructor John Woods

December 14, 2012 § Leave a comment


This afternoon I had to opportunity to ask John a few questions about himself and his upcoming workshops:

CP: Besides teaching workshops at Cineworks, what do you do?
JW: I work in the film industry in town, specializing in sequels and talking dog movies.
CP: If you had a motto, what would it be?
JW: I can do anything you want, all it will take is time and money.
CP: Who is your film role model?
JW: Too many to choose from! But I like how Werner Herzog is able to move between features and documentaries while still being able to make films that are distinctly his own.
CP: What is the movie that made you fall in love with film making?
JW: A lifetime ago a good friend bought a bizarre device called a laserdisc and showed me his then favourite movie, Clerks, which had a commentary track on it. Listening to the commentary I learned that the movie was basically made by a bunch of friends and that sounded like something fun to be a part of. Prior to that I hadn’t really thought that it was possible to make films without a cast and crew of hundreds.
CP: What is your favourite theatre in Vancouver and why?
JW: The Rio is my local theatre and I enjoy their programming and midnight shows but The Ridge is the most beautiful single screen theatre left in the city. The art deco design gives the place atmosphere and makes it feel like I’m really going out for a night on the town rather than visiting a very large living room. Plus its one of the few left in town that still projects 35mm prints.
CP: What made you decide to stick with film?
JW: Partly laziness on my part to keep up to speed with the rapid evolution of digital formats. I certainly like to edit digitally where I feel that you can work with images in a manner similar to how your brain works, but an image on film is more like how memory works. It can be fuzzy, unstable or damaged, but surprisingly sharp and beautiful in way that is better than how it really was.
CP: What exactly is a JK printer?
JW: Its an optical printer that was popular in the 70s and 80s with schools and independent filmmakers for creating optical effects like titles, fades and mattes. They originally cost a few thousand dollars and can fit on a table, prior to this an optical printer needed an entire room and were custom builds costing as much as house. The JK made it possible for people outside of the industry to access effects that required Hollywood level money just to rent the machine.
CP: Besides transferring film to video, what kinds of cool things can the JK do?
JW: The best comparison is that an optical printer does for cine film what a photographic enlarger does for stills. If you’re really dedicated you can do all those old school special effects like they did on Star Wars. What I find more interesting is how it allows you to experiment with alternative processes. You can use oddball lab stocks to create extremely contrasty images, or embrace generational loss by making excessive copies or do extreme blowups that create wild, swirling grain. I feel that today the best reason to work with film is to embrace all the faults inherent with it and create something that looks different. Someone who likes deliberate, methodical work will find this type of process enjoyable. A person that is patient and not be afraid to make a mistake will enjoy this workshop.
CP: Once I take these workshops, what kind of skills will I have?
JW: People short on money but long on time will have a way to get high quality transfers. Filmmakers interested in arcane analog practices, will learn how eliminate the lab from the equation and be able create unique works afford-ably on film.

John Woods has been a Cineworks member since 2003. Currently working with alternative film processes with Super 8 and 16mm film, John’s work has been screened across North America and Europe. He knows no one famous.

There are 2 upcoming workshops with John:

Learn how to setup & maintain the printer, basic principals of digitizing film and how to use the resulting computer files in their digital post-production workflow.

Tuesday, January 22, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Limited Spaces available.

$40 Members, $60 Non-Members.

Introduction to 16mm Optical Printing with a JK Printer

Saturday, January 26, 12 p.m. –  6 p.m. Limited spaces available.

$80 Members, $120 Non-Members

Special rate of $100 if you register for both the digital and analogue workshop for all Cineworks members!

Check cineworks.ca for more information.

Thanks to  John Woods for his time!


Q & A with Jon Ornoy

December 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last week, our own Facilities and Equipment Manager Jon Ornoy successfully pitched True Love Waits, the winning script of the 2012/13 Motion Picture Production Industry Association Short Film Award at The Whistler Film Festival. Besides prestige, the prize comes with a $15,000 cash prize and up to $100,000 in services to help the director develop the script to premiere at next year’s Whistler Film Festival. I thought it was time to send a few emails back and forth down the hall and get to know Ornoy the filmmaker a little bit better.


Image taken from Brianne Nord-Stewart’s site (Jon is the one in the hat)

CineworksPost: First, Congratulations! How does it feel to know you’ve got a premiere already locked down at next year’s film festival?

Jon Ornoy: Getting into festivals can be tough and sometimes frustrating because of all the competition out there. Ultimately, every filmmaker wants their work to be seen by an audience, and preferably in a theater, so knowing that I’ve got at least one audience lined up is nice. It’s also good to have hard deadlines to help motivate completion!

CwP: Can you briefly tell us what True Love Waits is about?

JO: The film is the story of Judy, a woman in her mid-fifties who has spent her entire career decorating the windows of Wedgely’s for Women, a high end clothing boutique. However, recently she has begun to suspect that Tammy, a new employee at the store has been sabotaging her displays at night in an effort to make her look bad and steal her job. Every morning when she arrives at the store, her work is in more and more of a disarray, in ways that Judy can’t explain, and she begins to slowly crackup as the prospect of losing her job becomes more of a reality.

CwP: I recently caught your first finished work, The Lunar Effect (2008). While that was a documentary and this is a fictive drama, is there a trajectory in how your approach storytelling and filmmaking?

JO: Even though documentaries deal with “real life”, in many ways I find there to be a lot more room for creativity within that genre than dramas because the real world is so much weirder and more diverse. The variety of storytelling coming out of the narrative world has been decreasing a lot in recent years as the films Hollywood fills the multiplex with take fewer risks and prefer to feed audiences the same stories repackaged and rebooted. Even though TLW is scripted, I’d like to shoot it using as many documentary techniques as possible like using handheld cameras and allowing the actors to improvise with each other and the public who will be extras in the film when they unknowingly walk through our downtown sidewalk locations. I’d definitely like to continue working on both sides of the “reality” line and expect that my approach to each genre will be informed by what I’ve learned from doing the other and am very interested in exploring docu-drama hybrids.


This e-mail interview took place on Thursday, December 13, 2012 between Jon Ornoy and Amy Fung.

From underground films and Melies to film studies at the U, by Al Razutis

December 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

My first experience with historical films occurred in ’67/68 at an underground film screening in San Francisco. Having been educated in the sciences, and having dropped out in favor of making / showing underground films, I had no knowledge of any film history beyond what my generation had seen in Hollywood or foreign films called ‘art films’.

So, this one night in SF, at a converted (to a theater) loft, with a home-build projection booth, a series of recent underground films was screened, and in the middle of this screening was a strange hand-colored film: “A Trip to the Moon” by Georges Melies (1902) presented as a silent short without any introduction or program notes. I was hooked, but I didn’t know on who or what.


When you’re 21 or 22, it isn’t the ‘history’, the ‘cultural importance’, the ‘notoriety’. the ‘auteur’ that works on you, it’s the ‘art’ and its capacity to inspire. (And it cost 1$ admission then, and also at Intermedia where I had my underground film screenings.) It was at these underground screenings that we got to see Maya Deren, Eisenstein, Abel Gance, dada and surrealist films (Un Chien Andalou, L’Age d’Or), the films of Norman MacLaren (!), and Len Lye, and so many others from the past mixed in with the present. And I was inspired!

After inquiries (‘Who was this guy, Melies?’), and subsequent years of collecting Melies (and other) films, after hooking up with film pirates who circulated prints (for copying) nationally and internationally, after putting on some shows of silent works (including a Surrealist film show at the film theatre of the Surrey Art Gallery, to which no one came!) I immersed myself in a ‘underground’ film studies and film historical culture spawned by underground film screenings, and existing/thriving totally outside of any university, cinematheque, or gallery.

In Vancouver, late sixties and into the seventies, there were hardly any ‘film studies’ programs at the local universities. The Stan Fox SFU film workshop was simply that, a student film production program, and way out in Burnaby. In the early 70’s, animation and film courses taught at the Vancouver Art School (Cambie St.) were specific to techniques and individual projects. This was a ‘pre cinema studies’ time. Any screenings, study, or commentary on historical films, film theory, film analysis were done ad hoc by lovers of cinema, or film clubs like at UBC (Kirk Tougas), The Vancouver Film Society (Pearl Williams), and these activities were not organized around a curriculum.

Of course, the late 70’s and 80’s would change all that, especially at SFU where I taught then, but the changes were not always beneficial to a film culture outside of the interests of academia and the faculty that make up a program.

I recently got a poster from Alex MacKenzie‘s archive (‘Georges Melies: Illusionist Extraordinaire’, included in this post) advertising a Melies film show that I had forgotten about. This was held at the Edison Electric Moving Image Gallery on Commercial Drive in the 90’s. I’m using this poster to drive home a point: film culture, history, theory, analysis, and its integration with practice, occurs all the time, though its origins and vestiges are sometimes hard to find. Universities and cinematheques get all the press, while the informal screenings (clubs, parallel galleries) stay largely out of sight and usually are forgotten. Yet, the informal scene of ‘film studies/appreciation’ is precisely what fed us (underground, experimental, independent) film makers in ways that were more enduring than workshops in ‘tech’ or ‘screenwriting’ or ‘semiotics’ or ‘film history’ at the U.. In fact, Alex MacKenzie’s Edison and Blinding Light had as much to do with ‘film studies’ as any of the university curriculums or cinematheque exhibitions at the time.

The fact that Cineworks salons, workshops and screenings continue this study of film and its interpretations, theories, analytical methods is admirable, though I am sure it is a non-profit unpaid task of self-sacrifice by the organizers. The fact that one can learn, and be inspired by, film culture outside of the U. should be remembered, celebrated, and supported. In my lifetime, it started with underground films, with no wikipedia, no web, and no schooling. In your lifetime it started when you first fell in love with a film, or a moment in a film, or an idea in a film. And what you do with that inspiration is a measure of your life in film culture.

My own fascination with Melies is contained in my Visual Essays: Origins of Film, films that engage in a ‘re-imagining’ of primitive and silent cinema, from Lumiere to Eisenstein, from the initial inventor’s ‘Eureka!’ moment to the use of film as ‘text’ and political, advertising, propaganda messaging.

Additional links include essays on Melies and A Trip to the Moon 

Re-posted with the permission of the author, 2012.
Al Razutis  is a multimedia artist, educator and innovator in motion-picture film and video, stereoscopic 3D video, holographic technologies and arts, and web-digital graphics for websites and virtual reality and was a founding member of Cineworks Independent Filmmakers Society. For more information, visit alchemists

A couple of notes about the history of Cineworks* . . . by Al Razutis

December 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

A couple of notes about the history of Cineworks, if only to upset any mythology arising from (some future discovery of) fossilized remains or flawed memory.

When Cineworks first ‘got a place’ (1980) – and you always start an organization with a ‘place’ – it was an empty office, adjacent to Canadian Filmmakers DIstribution Centre West (CFMC-W) – later an independent CFDW, and later Moving Images – on Pender St. We had no furniture, no equipment, nothing but a space with lots of ‘potential’. Our first film equipment was a set of rewinds, 4-gang 16mm synchronizer, splicer and audio squawk-box. I delivered this to Cineworks as a gift, from my collection, but it really came from Intermedia (Vancouver org. ’67-’71), which had dissolved almost 10 years earlier.

But we needed a ‘production’ (to qualify for future grant considerations). One weekend, I brought in a rear-screen, stop-motion 16m projector, Bolex camera/tripod, and over a week created ‘The Wildwest Show’ (a reel in my film Amerika) one frame at a time (rewinding, double exposing the matte content).
This work was notably laborious: With a flu affecting my concentration, I forgot to open the ‘variable shutter’ on the first complete batch of animation, and the lab results were predictably ‘black’ (unexposed) film. So, I had to do it all over, one frame at a time, with the flu, but in those days we just ‘did it’, however we could, and however long it took. This film, I would say, is the ‘first film’ produced ‘at Cineworks’. No big deal, but not a myth.Frame captures (in SD 2006 video capture) of Wildwest Show can be viewed at:

If others have memories to share, they would be most welcome, because in the end, we forget ‘everything’.

*Re-posted with the permission of the author, 2012.

Al Razutis  is a multimedia artist, educator and innovator in motion-picture film and video, stereoscopic 3D video, holographic technologies and arts, and web-digital graphics for websites and virtual reality and was a founding member of Cineworks Independent Filmmakers Society. For more information, visit alchemists

Decembers ‘Film and Media Showcase’ is coming up!

December 6, 2012 § Leave a comment


Our Monthly Film and Media Showcase allows for feedback and thoughtful dialogue between film artists and audiences. Presenters range from documentary filmmakers, photographers, to visual artists working through the moving image.

The format is simple: 3 artists, ten minutes each, dialogue in between.

Bring a friend and have a drink; network and share your vision, ideas and projects.

When: Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Where: The Annex, 235 Alexander street

Please note seating is limited. First come seating only.

Facebook Event:http://www.facebook.com/events//?fref=ts

Behind the scenes from the first EXPANDING CINEMA workshop

December 6, 2012 § Leave a comment




Thanks to Cineworks member John Woods for these photos from Alex Mackenzie’s ‘Expanding Cinema’ workshop. Pictured: Alex, Amanda T and Ariel K-G

EXPANDING CINEMA is an extended workshop series with film artist Alex MacKenzie exploring performance-based film practice. Taking a hands-on approach to the materiality of cinema, these workshops will demystify and dismantle the filmic process with a focus on expanded cinematic forms. From projector modification to film manipulation, MacKenzie will be leading each session customized to participant interests and shaped by their input. Over the course of several months, this series offers the potential to produce singular and collaborative works or installations to be presented in the new year. This is a hands-on conversation where the practical and theoretical are blended at the discretion of participants. Come with ideas, or come to be inspired. All skill levels welcome.

Workshops are every six to eight weeks, Monday and Tuesday nights from 7-10 pm.

2012: October 29/30, December 10/11.  2013: January 28/29, March 18/19.

Price per session: $30 Members/$50 Non-Members

Full registration: $175 Members/$300 Non-Members

To register please call 604.685.3841 M–F (noon to 6 pm)

Advance registration is required. Limited capacity. Waiting lists will be available.

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