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!