The Super 8 Cinema of John Porter

The Super 8 Cinema John Porter: Condensed Rituals & Camera Dances
A live film performance w/ John Porter
Friday, April 23 at 7:00 PM
Winnipeg Film Group

Super 8 filmmaker, photographer, performer and writer John Porter is probably Canada’s best known spokesman for super 8 filmmaking, surpassing even One Take Super 8 Event director Alex Rogalski. Known in his native Toronto as the king of super 8, John has made more than 300 short films, mostly super 8, and has performed more than 80 solo shows internationally. Using film as a visual art like painting, many of his short films are silent, made in series, and he only shows his originals (no copies). John Porter also runs the notorious super8porter.

During this presentation, Porter will perform live in front of the audience while screening a selection of his works. Porter’s films are dynamic, humorous and revealing, enjoyed by people of all ages (families are encouraged to bring their kids!). They reveal and highlight the excitement and risk taking of creating a super 8 film.


Porter’s Condensed Rituals
Landscape (1977, 1 minute, silent)
Mother and Child (1977, 2 minutes, silent)
Santa Claus Parade (1976, 4.5 minutes, silent)
Amusement Park (1978/79, 6 minutes, silent)

Camera Dances
Firefly (1980, 3.5 minutes, silent)
Light Sleeper (2010, 3.5 minutes, silent)
Angel Baby (1979, 2 minutes, silent)
Down on Me (1980/81, 4 minutes, silent)
Cinefuge 4 & 5 (1980/81, 4.5 minutes, sound on film)
In the Gutter (2000, 3.5 minutes, wild sound)

Personal Documentary
Toy Catalogue 3 (1996, 18-minute excerpt, sound on film)

Projector Dances
Shootout with Rebecca (1983, 3.5 minutes, sound on film, live performance)
Revolving Restaurant (1981, 3.5 minutes, silent, live performance)
Animal in Motion (1980, 1 minute, sound on film, live performance)
Scanning 5 (1983, 3.5 minutes, silent, live performance in “surround super 8”)

Experimental Series: A Super 8 Film Demonstration
Presented by John Porter
Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 1:00PM – 4:00PM
FREE (however, you must RSVP to

Spend an afternoon with the prolific John Porter, Toronto’s ‘King of Super 8’. Discuss the history, politics, screening opportunities and overall ‘scene’ surrounding the world of alternative film, super 8 style.

John will give a run down on all the super 8 equipment we have. If you have any, bring it! Cameras, projectors, viewers, splicers and film stocks. A great workshop for established and aspiring filmmakers alike.


From Uptown Magazine April 22, 2010:

The adventures of Super 8 man
Filmmaker John Porter brings his distinctive 8mm road show to the ’Peg

“Things that don’t cost a lot,” says Super 8 filmmaker and advocate John Porter, “just aren’t taken as seriously.”

A Super 8 film, he points out, can cost less than $50 to crank out. And in a world where even $10,000 films on 16mm are marginalized, it means Super 8 filmmaking is relegated to the fringes of the medium.

“It has the connotation of ‘amateur’ filmmaking,” Porter says. This largely has to do with the decades-long use of 8mm for making home movies.

But what about the celebrated Guy Maddin, who shot portions of The Saddest Music in the World and My Winnipeg in Super 8?

“Guy Maddin uses it as material,” Porter replies. “I’m doing something different — I’m using the format as itself.”

More than that, Porter often uses Super 8 as the starting point for what he calls film “performances.” This often involves him on stage in front of the screen, doing a kind of mime in marriage with the projected image.

Also part of his repertoire are Camera Dances, Projector Dances, and what he calls Porter’s Condensed Rituals — that is, time lapse films of such subjects as amusement parks and Santa Claus parades.

All of these series will be part of Porter’s first Winnipeg screening; all the films average but a few minutes in length, and are completely family friendly. Porter has made hundreds in total.

“I also talk throughout many of my films,” Porter says; convenient, that many of them are silent. He comments directly on the imagery; sometimes a discussion ensues. “It’s like a public talk and performance at the same time,” he says, likening it to a Vaudeville show with its own running commentary.

Although Porter has put together what he calls a travelling show he has taken across North America and Europe, actual performances are few and far between.

“You can’t make prints easily, so you can’t show a Super 8 film as widely,” he explains. “And I’m talking about a Super 8 film that has not been converted to video or blown up in any way, which means that you also have to find a Super 8 projector somewhere to use.

“Also, because the image is so much smaller, you can’t really screen Super 8 for large audiences. It’s a format that’s meant for small venues, for a more personalized experience.”

So why the attraction to the format? “Because it’s very accessible, and more fun to use,” Porter says. “And I like the aesthetic of film and film projection. It’s very tactile and direct — the light is physically shone through the celluloid. It’s a sophisticated shadow play, really.”

Porter will also be presenting a Super 8 filmmaking workshop while in town, which will address the technique, history, and politics of the format. “Where can you get your films shown? That’s one of the questions that will be dealt with,” he says. The workshop takes place on April 24 from 1 to 4 p.m. More information is available by emailing or calling 925-3450.

Does Porter consider himself a passionate advocate for Super 8?

“Oh yeah!” he replies, simply. “I’m kind of proud, actually — I think Super 8 needs some very in-your-face advocates.”

– Kenton Smith


~ by cineflyer on April 8, 2010.

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