Porter has been a filmmaker, performer, photographer and writer
since 1968. Known in his native Toronto as the king of super 8, he has
made more than 300 short films, mostly super 8, and has performed more
than 70 solo shows internationally. Many of his films are silent, made
in series (Camera Dances, crowd portraits, local histories, rituals,
toy stories), and he shows his camera originals (no copies). Often while
projecting he performs live in the audience, in front of the screen,
or while hand-holding the small projector for 'surround super 8' in
galleries and for projecting onto passing people and vehicles while
'film-busking' on the street at night. His films are dynamic, humourous
and revealing, enjoyed by people of all ages.
more about John Porter see Painting
Porter (12 min QuickTime movie - opens in separate window), a documentary
made in 2001 by Valesca R. Cerski, Jochen W. Detscher, Sascha Drews,
Leah Jeffrey and Eva Ziemsen at York University Department of Film and
Take Super 8 Event
Take Super 8 Event began in 2000 and has been showcased across Canada,
the United States and in a number of international festivals. In 2006
it was held in Regina, Saskatchewan. The event invites filmmakers to
shoot a single reel of super 8 film which are then collectively screened
at a public venue. All films are shown as shot, no cuts, no splices,
and without the filmmakers having seen their work beforehand. To date
more than 200 films have been created for the event.
All of the films
in this screening were made between 2003-2006, with all but one of the
filmmakers originating from Saskatchewan, Canada. All films were edited
in camera, and are the exact length of one 50ft cartridge of super 8
film. Some of the films for this screening are silent.
Running time: 35 minutes. The films have been transferred to video for
(1977, super 8, colour, 1 minute, silent)
John and his mother painting in the country in the summer. His mother
has always been a painter and still is, at 90. When John and his sisters
were children, she would take them out painting in the country, and
this was a rare re-occurrence since John's pre-teens, 20 years earlier.
The film's background is also the painters' subject - a farmer's brown
field being plowed by a red & white tractor, a grey barn, green
trees, and a blue sky with billowing white clouds. It ends with a peek
at John's finished painting, another rare occurrence. A single-shot
film, taken at 3 seconds per frame, over one hour. Two contact prints
were made in the early 1980s, but the original can still be shown.
Mother and Child
(1977, super 8, colour, 2 minutes, silent)
A sitting portrait of John's friend Lis Guindon holding her months-old
daughter Marie Claire, in their sitting-room in Cabbagetown, Toronto.
They later moved to Quebec and lost contact with John. A single-shot
film, taken at 3 seconds per frame over 2 hours, lit with a single table-lamp
and using 3-second time exposures on each frame. Mothers particularly
are amazed and amused by this film, saying it evokes their experience.
A companion film to Landscape, both made in the same year, of a mother
and child, and emulating classical paintings.
Santa Claus Parade
(1976, super 8, colour, 2 versions: 6 and 4.5 minutes, silent)
The earliest film in John's typical retrospective shows. Toronto's historic,
large, annual Christmas parade, seen from the top of a tall building
at the end of the long, wide and straight University Ave. where the
parade's largest crowds are also seen gathering before, and dispersing
after the parade. The building belonged to the Zurich Insurance Co.
where John was working as a machine operator, and it has since been
demolished. The parade route has also been altered so this perfect view
of the parade no longer exists. A single-shot film, using 2 rolls of
film taken at 4 seconds per frame, over 8 hours.
(1982, super 8, colour, 3.5 minutes, silent)
Hundreds of students writing exams together on the floor of historic
Varsity Hockey Arena, University of Toronto. A wide-angle view of the
entire scene, from the top of the stands. A single-shot film, taken
at 2 seconds per frame, over 2 hours.
(1978/79, super 8, colour, 6 minutes, silent)
A document of different thrill rides at Toronto's historic, annual Canadian
National Exhibition, all shot at night, at one frame per second, using
one-second time exposures. Using two rolls of film shot in two consecutive
years, the first roll consists of close-ups of each ride, edited in-camera.
The second roll consists of a single, wide-angle long-shot of the entire
"Midway" of rides, seen from the top of the historic observation
tower which has since been demolished. This scene was shot continuously
over an 8 hour period beginning before dusk, increasing the time exposures
as the daylight lessened and even after dark, ending in an almost white-out
of the night scene created by 2-minute exposures on each frame.
(1980, super 8, colour, 3.5 minutes, silent)
Inspired by John's film Amusement Park (1978/79). John improvises
a performance for the camera, spinning a bright, pinpoint light on a
long cord, around himself in a variety of patterns, against a black
background. A one-shot film, shot in one hour, at one frame per second.
And with one-second time-exposures, the light streaks are multiplied
and more complex by refracting in the lens. The light used was developed
with assistance from John's friend Adam Swica.
Down on Me
(1980/81, super 8, colour, 4 minutes, silent)
John dances with, and is led by, the camera, which is running at one
frame per second and turning its own way on the end of a fishing pole
line while being raised and lowered from rooftops and bridges. Throughout,
the camera is looking down at John on the ground, who's looking back
up at the camera and turning with it. 'Camera hoisting' by John's friend
Stephen Niblock. Many different locations were used, edited in-camera,
and there were two shooting sessions, a year apart. The first was of
outdoor locations. The second was of indoor locations (stairwells) shot
with time exposures, creating occasional abstract vortexes.
"Unique in my experience of movies." - Jim Hoberman, Village
Voice, New York City, 1982.
Cinefuge 4 &
(1980/81, super 8, colour, 4.5 minutes, sound on film)
John dances with the camera, swinging it around himself on a long cord,
keeping it always aimed at himself, while it turns its own way on the
cord. Five versions in different locations. Developed from a scene in
John's 16mm student film Independent Filmmaking (1974), and
inspired by a scene from Sergio Leone's movie The Good, The Bad
and the Ugly (1966). The only sound version. It begins with a sync-sound
version (#5) shot on the grounds of Little Trinity Church as a TV commercial,
with John talking to the viewer about his upcoming show at The Funnel
Experimental Film Theatre in Toronto. It ends with version #4 with John's
friend, dancer Judith Miller, joining the dance in Bickford Park, and
which was shot on silent film, then sound-striped and post-dubbed with
out-take sounds from version #5.
(2000, super 8, colour, 3.5 minutes, wild sound)
A Camera Dance creating travelling views of Toronto streets from face-down
in the gutter. Edited in-camera, shot at 9fps, using a home-made, water-proof,
camera case on a pole.
"My goodness but this fun film is the work of a pro! Also, from
my transportation-obsessed POV, I recognize the eye of a fellow street
analyst, one who knows that the politics of space on the road are connected
to equity and social justice. At the beginning we are introduced to
a character who seems to live on the street. Our eye becomes his eye
as he travels along, at some speed!, in the gutter. We see car wheels
passing us at alarming proximity as we beetle along next to the curb,
which seems very tall. John Porter's In the Gutter is fast
and funny. It is a new angle on the street that, while a little scary,
makes the audience laugh." (Sally McKay, Lola No. 7, Fall 2000,
(1983, super 8, colour, 3.5 minutes, silent, live performance)
A continuing series of silent film performances, with John hand-holding
a super 8 projector in front of the audience. He moves the projected
image around onto all the walls and ceiling, following the camera movements
in the film. Inspired by a projection by Anne B. Walters in The Funnel
Experimental Film Theatre Gallery, Toronto, in 1981. David Anderson
in Berczy Park, behind the Flatiron Building in downtown Toronto. The
first version projected around the room.
Take Super 8 Event programme
FOR THE VIEWER’S ATTENTION: This film presents an experiment in
the CINEMATIC COMMUNICATION of visible events without the aid of intertitles.
(a film without intertitles) without the aid of a scenario, without
the aid of theatre. (a film without set, actors, etc.) This experimental
work aims at creating a truly INTERNATIONAL ABSOLUTE LANGUAGE OF CINEMA
based on its total separation from the language of theatre and literature.
Fishing the strait and narrow. One man’s past time, another woman’s
souvenir of a life once daydreamed.
get out (in)
3000 (+/-) clicks over 3 days. Random when and where. August 23-25 2003.
je nage; donc, je suis ... (the film)
Swimming in glimmering, shimmering aqua blue, with friends during summer
in Regina.... (hommage a Wascana Pool)
b flat clarinet
In the 1950’s to the 1970’s Benny Goodman continued recording
and performing with many greats of the jazz world. In January 1978 he
returned to Carnegie Hall to do a Concert - 40 years after his first.
All tickets sold out in one day!
Shane Corkery’s first foray into the world of Super 8, looks at
the transitional nature of our constantly deteriorating urban core.
like any other
an early new york morning. clear skies. 1453 feet above the ground.
just a day like any other, so why do i feel a little strange.
Lopan played this in Europe, and those crazy bastards went F$%kin’
for our home song
Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as it is the axis on which the
world earth revolves- slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.
- Thich Nat Hahn
Made Quick and Easy
A naive egyptologist’s obsession with the ancient trade of mummification
take a bizarre turn when he puts his fascination with process into practice...