I have been a film editor for some twenty years, cutting shorts and features, drama and documentary, theatrical and television.
Since my earliest memories of movies — watching Omar Sharif as Ghengis Khan, Ursula Andress as She in the Odeon or Regent or Pavilion in Chelmsford, Essex, in the early ’60s, or catching King Kong or Quatermass 2 on a small black and white television in our living room in White Roding — what engaged me, and still engages me, is story and the techniques of storytelling. Even in my documentary work, the concern is always with how to shape the material into a compelling narrative.
When I returned to school in my mid-20s, I started hanging out at the University of Winnipeg student newspaper office and eventually became the weekly film reviewer — an excellent gig because it meant I got to see a lot of movies for free. No doubt that experience helped when I fortuitously got an opportunity to go to Los Angeles and interview David Lynch and many of his collaborators on the production of Eraserhead for an article for Cinefantastique. And that article in turn landed me a job on the production of Lynch’s Dune, a remarkable six months in Mexico helping to document the day-to-day details of production on one of the most expensive movies ever made.
Eventually returning to Winnipeg, I wrote fairly regularly about film and other matters for Border Crossings, an arts quarterly. And then, in 1989, I joined the Winnipeg Film Group and set about making my own first film, a 9-minute comedy in the form of a dubious documentary called Incident at Pickerel Fillet. This was followed by a short piece in a collaborative project called The Exquisite Corpse, and then a more ambitious comedy parodying old-style sci-fi movie serials called The Adventures of Stella Starr of the Galaxy Rangers in the 23rd Century. These experiences led inexorably to a career in film editing, mostly on documentaries.
Over the years, I have also sporadically continued writing — a number of unfilmed scripts, plus a brief history of the Winnipeg Film Group for Cinema Scope, and most recently a chapter on filmmaker John Kozak in the WFG’s anthology about Winnipeg directors, Place.
The directing debut of Chinese writer Xu Haofeng offers an interesting variation on the martial arts genre.
The Thai ghost story Laddaland is more effective at creating economic scares than the spectral kind.
Director Richard Griffin perfectly captures the look and tone of cheap '70s exploitation horror in The Disco Exorcist.
The Scarlet Worm is an ambitious revisionist western which achieves more than you'd expect from its low budget.
Made in 1958, A Night to Remember remains the finest, most accurate account of the sinking of the Titanic.
Twenty years after Bill Clinton won the presidency, The War Room still evokes the dramatic excitement of the political moment.
Mikhail Kalatozov's feature Letter Never Sent presents its story of a group of Soviet prospectors in Siberia through stunning imagery and endlessly inventive camerawork.
A witty and moving adaptation of Christopher Reid's narrative poem about the bitterness and disappointment of middle age.
War of the Arrows, a Korean historical epic, offers some of the best, most visceral action of recent years.
In 1959, Jerry Lewis tried for respect as a dramatic actor with a TV adaptation of The Jazz Singer.