Sitting in a local cafe, I had the opportunity to talk with director/cinematographer Brian Johnson and co-director/editor Brendan Woollard, of the brilliant new film, cArtographies. British Columbia is a vibrant province inhabited by some of the most creative and inspiring artists in the country. cArtographies is a beautiful collection of short films that gives us a delectable taste of what they have to offer: and it's all right there in our own back yard.
Wendy Dallian: Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Brian Johnson: I went to Simon Fraser University in 1992 to study film after a degree in Communications in Alberta. I dropped out after my third year. Since then I've just been doing a lot of different stuff, mainly lots of different work in the world of cinema and the continuum of cinema. Everything from DP-ing Hollywood MOWs (movies of the week) and stuff like that, to doing cinematic art installations. I'm interested in a broad range of work that evolves around cinema and temporal work. The form of cinema is something I'm really interested in, like the language and mechanics of cinema and how those impact our culture and society.
Brendan Woollard: I was trained at UBC in film and I won some awards as an editor, did a lot of commercials and music videos, and recently have been doing a lot of documentaries. I've directed two TV series for Global and TVTropolis and am really happy to be working with Brian on cArtographies.
WD: Can you tell us how this film came to be.
BJ: Knowledge actually approached our producer Leah (Leah Mallen) with this concept of doing a lot of short films about BC artists that we would then put into a longer hour format for television.
At that point we pitched them on a more specific concept which turned out to be cArtographies. They gave us a formal framework to work within, but otherwise they let us do whatever we wanted. We chose the artists. We, in collaboration with the artists, chose what we would do with each artist. In a way it was kind of cool because they gave us this very loose framework to work within, but otherwise they let us do whatever we wanted.
BW: ...and so we did. So we did whatever we wanted (laughs).
WD: And how did you find the artists.
BJ: It was kind of an organic process. I think Brendan and I, and Leah as well, are all active in the arts world here in Vancouver so it kind of started out as, “I've always wanted to work with this person” or, “I have worked with this person and I love them and they would be great.”
We maybe had an idea of what we would do with a particular artist we were acquaintances of so we approached those people. It started with ten or so people then they'd turn us on to somebody else, or somebody would be having a show and we'd think, “we should talk to that person.”
BW: Some people said, “no.” But they were mostly quite charming.
WD: Was there a reason you chose specific kinds of artists.
BW: I think our main goal was variety: geographic and informed in how they worked.
BJ: That's exactly it. Also, we wanted to represent not only Vancouver art stars, because there are lots of those and we could have just focused on those, but we wanted to also see some emerging artists, some obscure artists or people who the art world itself would probably not normally consider when they think about the community of artists in this province. Some outsiders, some wild cards, emerging, mid-career, and established artists. We just really wanted to try and show the full spectrum of the kind of stuff that goes on in BC.