The Movies of Jonathan Culp
Chronology Part Two: 2005-present
Created for Trinity Square Video's themed commission "Affection," this video processes anti-globalization PTSD through a faltering love relationship. Having grown restless with documentary, I repurposed my own footage from 2001's Quebec City demos, edit out the cops and focusing on moments of intimacy, mutual support and love among the demonstrators. The commission's free Final Cut Pro workshop, my first, taught me the magic tricks of frame enlargement, opacity and keyframes which I applied liberally here. I also incorporated some found media - a 1970s puppet film and an FM announcer reading love letters. An accurate expression of the anguish I was going through at the time.
Having opened the can of worms with my previous video, I continued to attempt an 'artistic' approach to activist video with this project. Images from various other people's home video documentation are used to portray the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty's occupation of the abandoned (and reputedly haunted) 590 Jarvis St. in November of 2004. The video aimed to evoke the action's tone of defiant resilience, with a bare minimum of didacticism or exposition. Soundtrack by Picastro.
The last of the series of videos I made in solidarity with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. It focuses on a Special Diet Supplement "clinic" in pre-gentry Regent Park, leveraging a loophole in the Ontario Works rates to raise the rates. Again attempting to move 'video activism' beyond street protest, here I tried a cinema-verite approach, focusing on the exhausting work behind social activism.
GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH
With Amanda Brooks, Chris Mills and Leslie Walters
Something is cooking in the town of Grimsville, Ontario. A bunch of wayward youths take on Grimsville High, Squirrely's Pizza and the Moose Meat Ladies with their revolutionary underground grilled cheese sandwich club. It's the next best thing to getting the hell out!
My first feature film, shot in 2003 on MiniDV in the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada. The cast is half friends, half area students. Siue Moffat and David Comfort did sound, Zoe Dodd was production designer, mom made the food. The world premiere went down with the Ear to the Ground Festival ship. It was screened a total of three or four times, but circulated underground until it finally landed here.
IT CAN HAPPEN HERE
On tour with no host in Regina, I took a detour to the Weyburn Mental Hospital, where my great-grandfather was held from 1936 to 1962. Learning it was to be demolished, I returned the following winter with a video camera, supported by a few small donations from friends. The video essay that resulted is an attempted summation of the various threads of my practice at the time - activist themes, auto-analysis, and collage editing techniques. Lots of threads twining here, some of which tie me up too.
Music by Picastro
Commissioned for the 8 Fest, this meditative assemblage of found images was conceived as a collaboration with (again) Picastro, who played along live. This recreation features slightly edited music and image tracks from the original performance.
By Monica Pearce and Jonathan Culp
A big bag of 35mm filmstrips and an abortive commission inspired this film, a collaboration with composer Monica Pearce (Clorey). We re-interpreted the wrestling and swimming scenes as commentaries on our own most fraught experiences of gender and sexuality. We cut and pasted fragments of the 35mm filmstrips on to 16mm clear leader, then I edited digitally to the rhythms of Monica's soundtrack, which evokes both silent movie music and the persistent change-the-slide 'ding' of filmstrips themselves.
Tomboyfriend rock video
Once I was an actual guitarist in an actual band, Tomboyfriend. Since I was hanging around anyway, I got to make a video. This was my first time I turned to archive.org for footage. I used scenes of postwar domesticity and discord to ornament the song's tale of gender roles breaking down.
DESIGN A LANGUAGE
Amid the "golden era" of the Trash Palace secret cinema, Stacey Case declared a DIY Classroom Film Festival, inspired by the real ones we showed regularly. While most submissions were parodies, I snipped some of my less watchable classroom originals directly and mixed them up. Since the sound and picture cut at different frames on sound film, this was a new challenge, inspired directly by Joyce Wieland's "Barbara's Blindness".
Kids On TV music video
During a collaboration with Kids on TV's Scott Kerr, I was invited to create a video for their swan song. Tortuously immersed as I was in my Taking Shelter edit, I was grateful for the chance to crank something out quick, and also to foreground some of the very tackiest imagery from Hamilton schlock impresario Lionel Shenken.
"Prepare to face the power of the ultimate dimension!"
Yeah well I should have prepared better when I decided to edit 434 Canadian feature films into a single, feature-length narrative about aliens invading Canada. The project wound up taking up most of my time from 2007 to 2014, lasting through the disintegration of one day job, three major relationships and my mental health generally. But I am proud of the movie, and it has been talked about and shown a bit.
A NEW PLACE TO DWELL
Another invitation from The 8 Fest, this time to orchestrate a triad of super 8 loop cartridge projectors to a live score by Fresh Snow. That one was not recorded for posterity, but later in the year the concept was remounted in cahoots with Several Futures, and presented at the Niagara Artists Centre. Improvising from a rough framework, my "film jockeying" took its cues from the musical moods at least as much as the other way around. My first crack at incorporating the movie machines themselves into the show.
STARING AT A FLOWER
Broken Puppy music video
I had been sitting on this Super 8 footage of the OM Festival for well over a decade. For a few years I had the notion it would make a good video for this song. Then I actually recorded the song. Then I made the video. Boom.
CUL DE SAC
By Jonathan Culp and Several Futures
After working together with Several Futures on A New Place To Dwell, they gave me some footage they shot out of their car and asked if I could make a video out of it. This is that video. It is one of my occasional shots at giving form to abstraction, in this case playing with shifting colours over various fragments of image on multiple horizontal planes.
Broken Puppy music video
I was working for the animation society and I realized I hadn't ever made an animation. So I made this, shot on Super 8, my then-band's second rock video. Starring most of my exceedingly large Peanuts memorabilia collection - and myself, yes I operated the camera by remote and performed at the same time.
HIT ME BACK
Broken Puppy rock video
The band's final video undergirds the lyric with a whole bunch of posterized Youtube clips of women kicking the shit out of men. Broken Puppy was disbanded soon after.
The Holy Gasp rock video
While cohabiting on Toronto Island, The Holy Gasp's conceptmaster Benjamin Hackman requested a beatnik-themed collage for their new song "Beat Wave." The first edit wasn't quite beaty enough, so I threw in an unusually dense layer of motion effects for spice.
By now exiled from Toronto, on disability for PTSD about 20 years too late, I was also gender questioning for the first time, also too late. Working through this stuff, I found an ingenious confess-and-purge exercise in Kate Bornstein's "My Gender Workbook." Then I learned that Phil Hoffman's Independent Imaging Retreat was an easy bike ride from Solstice festival. So I went there, learned 16mm camera and light meter, and shot and edited this bald litany of failure in a week. It has received a lot of positive feedback although it is most painful for me to watch.
MONDAY -> FRIDAY
My second multiscreen work and first installation grew from a batch of corporate training films I rescued from the Toronto Reference Library when they got rid of their 16mm collection. Taking Shelter having nearly driven me batty with its infernal microedits, I sought to move beyond my reflexive tight-wound mode by cutting longer chunks, then showing them side by side, on loops of differing length, in a circular formation. This simultaneously lightened my workload, while introducing new elements of chance and audience engagement. Completed on 16mm, and premiered at the In The Soil Arts Festival in St. Catharines.