Super 8 Filmmaker John Porter, Toronto, Canada



Helen Hill 1970-2007

American/Canadian Filmmaker, Wife and Mother - New Orleans and Halifax
Photos of Helen Hill by John Porter. Memorial website:

Helen Hill's Film Farm Story
as told to John Porter, 2004

Helen attended Phil Hoffman’s Independent Imaging Retreat ("The Film Farm" <<<) three times, in 1999, 2000 and 2002. It is a week in the summer, 16mm filmmaking workshop on a farm outside Mount Forest, Ontario, which is outside Toronto.

Helen and her husband Paul Gailiunas were living in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1999 when Helen attended the Film Farm for the first time. Her filmmaking project was to be a fourth wedding anniversary gift for Paul, with shots of some of his favourite things which she had brought with her.

One day Helen, Amy Lockhart and Trixie Sweetvittles went to shoot some film at the Hoffman Exotic Animals Farm, which was just down the road, but those Hoffmans were not related to Phil Hoffman. They had a potbellied pig named Sophie with five or six new-born piglets, and Paul had wanted a pet pig for years, so Helen shot some film of them and bought one of them for him, for $50. Paul named his piglet Daisy Mae Hoffman, after Phil, but when Helen told the name to the Exotic Animals Hoffmans, she sensed that they were offended that she may have named her pig after them. But they had a zebra named Michael Jackson!


Helen couldn’t take Daisy Mae from them right away, because from the Film Farm she continued west on her seven-week, cross-Canada, “Combustible Countdown!” tour, collecting material for her “Recipes for Disaster” book, published in Toronto in 2001. She met up with Paul in Vancouver where he was visiting his family, and on the way back to Halifax together they stopped in Toronto and visited the Film Farm. She screened her anniversary gift film in the barn cinema to Paul, Phil, Phil’s partner Janine Marchessault and Janine's 8-year-old daughter Jesse. The film ended with Helen’s shot of the piglets and the message “Paul, Your New Pig Is Down the Road!” They picked up Daisy Mae and returned to the Film Farm to show her off, especially to Jesse, and Phil shot video of Jesse and Daisy Mae.

Unfortunately Daisy Mae had a weak heart valve and lived only 6 months. But by then Helen and Paul belonged to the North American Potbellied Pig Association which told them there was one breeder of pot-bellied pigs in Canada, in Appin, Ontario. In 2001 they drove for two days from Halifax to Appin and bought their second pig - Rosie. And when Helen was at the Film Farm for her third time, in 2002, she drove two hours to Appin and two hours back one day to shoot film of Rosie’s home and family. Helen learned that Rosie’s aunt Violet and sister Soo Lee starred in the popular Telus Mobility TV ads then, but Helen said they were really Photo-Shopped and they don’t actually look as good as in the ads.

Photos of Helen Hill by John Porter. Memorial website: