Super 8 Filmmaker John Porter, Toronto, Canada



John's Upcoming Shows - 100 Solo Shows - New Films - 300 Films - Top 25 - Photos


Published Endorsements of John's Work


John Porter has been a filmmaker, performer, photographer and writer in Toronto since 1968. He has made 300 films and performed 100 solo shows internationally.
He studied Film & Photography at Ryerson University, and he has received government arts grants, has taught filmmaking workshops, and has written and illustrated published histories of alternative film in Toronto.


John Porter has been a filmmaker, performer, photographer and writer in Toronto since 1968. He has made over 300 films, mostly super 8, performed over 100 solo shows internationally, and has been called “the king of super 8”, among other names.

Using film as a visual art like painting, many of his short films are silent, made in series' (Camera Dances, crowd portraits, local histories, rituals, toy stories), and he shows his originals (no copies). While projecting some 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, humorous and revealing, enjoyed by people of all ages.

John's mother was a painter and his father was a scientist, and while he was growing up he explored drawing, writing, acting and photography. He studied photography and 16mm film production at Ryerson University (1969-74), worked as a Letter Carrier (1976-81, photo) and Bicycle Courier (1987-98), and has received five “B” or “Creation” Grants, in Film or Multi-Disciplinary Art, from the Canada Council for the Arts since 1984. He has taught many super 8 workshops and spoken in many university film classes, and he taught super 8 and 16mm Film Workshop credit courses in 2005 and 2008, at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario.

He has been actively involved with several artist-run centres in Toronto since 1978, including serving many years on Boards of Directors. He's been most consistently involved with The Funnel Experimental Film Theatre (1977-1989), Pleasure Dome Artists Film Exhibition Group (since 1989) and CineCycle Underground Cinema (since 1991). Throughout the 1980s he organized many Monthly Open Film Screenings at The Funnel and A Space Gallery, and made and projected (photo) super 8 films with the band Fifth Column. More recently, he co-organized Monthly Open Screenings at CineCycle for 31 consecutive months (2004-2006).

In 1998 Pleasure Dome published a book about him, The John Porter Film Activity Book, and he was included in Scott MacDonald’s A Critical Cinema 3: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers (University of California Press, review).
In 2006 a feature article about him was published in Super 8 Today Magazine #5 (USA), and in 2007, smallformat magazine Vol. 3, #5 (English and German editions published in Berlin) included an 8-page article about John - smallformat's longest article ever - with 28 photos.
In 2015 the8fest published a 135-page book of 215 of John's photographs, John Porter's CineScenes: Documentary Portraits of Alternative Film Scenes, Toronto and Beyond, 1978-2015 (details).
In 2017 an interview with John, and 30 of his photographs, were published in Mike Hoolboom's book Underground: The Untold Story of The Funnel Film Collective.

In 2007 John went on a 4-week, 7-screening/performance tour of Europe, incuding two critically-acclaimed shows at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, and then he did two different shows at Anthology Film Archives in New York City. In 2017 he did a third different show at Anthology, part of a 3-city tour of New York State.

His on-going community activism includes photographing, writing and publishing about local underground film activity, advocating super 8 film and $50 film budgets, and resisting the dominance of the film industry, the Ontario Film Review Board, and video. He resisted email and the internet until 2005.

of John's work

"Beautifully made miniatures, John's operettas appeared as the culmination of something, a snowy white cap of narrow gauge cinema."
(Mike Hoolboom, Underground: The Untold Story of The Funnel Film Collective,
Toronto, January 31, 2017)

"Witty and poignant, Porter's films embrace the limitations of the small format to inspire creative ideas. He brings an infectious enthusiasm to filmmaking that is open to all."
(Early Monthly Segments, Toronto, March 7, 2016)

"Porter is a Toronto-based visual genius who, in the ’70s and ’80s,
fully extended the artistic possibilities of Super-8. You will not believe the analog awesomeness of these antique-format experiments."
(Time Out Magazine, New York City, March 22, 2007)

"een van de wonderlijkste filmervaringen op het /
one of the most wonderful film experiences of the
International Film Festival Rotterdam 2007."
(Tonio van Vugt, Zone 5300 - Strips, Cultuur & Curiosa, January 30, 2007)

"My goodness but this fun film is the work of a pro!
John Porter's In the Gutter is fast and funny...while a little scary."
(Sally McKay, Lola No. 7, Toronto, Fall 2000)

"As magical for contemporary audiences as the original, Georges Méliès trick-films must have seemed a century ago."
(Scott MacDonald, A Critical Cinema 3, University of California Press, 1998)

"John Porter argues compellingly for small-gauge, super-8mm filmmaking."
(A Critical Cinema 3 book promotion, University of California Press, 1998)

"Porter is an ideal experimental film ambassador to the general community.
His films are fun to watch and require no prior schooling to appreciate."
(Chris Gehman, The John Porter Film Activity Book, Toronto, 1998)

"Porter is best known as one of Canada's most tireless Super-8 visionaries."
(Cameron Bailey, NOW Magazine, Toronto, 1996)

"Trace a coup sur de nouvelles voies au septieme art."
"Certainly marks a new direction for the seventh art."
(Mathieu Albert, Le Devoir, Montreal, 1984)

"Unique in my experience of movies."
(Jim Hoberman, The Village Voice, New York City, 1982)


John Porter made more than 100 super 8 films
during 5 years as a Letter Carrier, 1976-1981.
(photo by Edie Steiner)

John Porter projected super 8 films with the band Fifth Column,
1983-1992. (photo by Tim Howe)

John's Upcoming Shows - 100 Solo Shows - New Films - 300 Films - "Top 25" - Photos