Invented a decimal computer system (as opposed to binary) and taught me all about "cinema verity" and that all the old newsreels with dumb-asses who strapped rockets to their backs and tried to ice skate or jumped off barns with paper wings were faked for comedic value--since he did most of them. Started in the business playing the mighty Wurlitzer theater organ. RIP. Great guy. Great teacher.
First met John in 1976 where he was teaching at a St Paul Minnesota film school called "Film in the Cities." He was my first introduction to the concept of documentary film and its ethics and purpose, even though he openly admitted that as a newsreel "journalist" in the 30's or whatnot, his own start was far less than ethical. But that taught me about even modern "fake news" and instilled a healthy cynicism toward those, like Michael Moore, who, however much you may believe in his point of view, is in fact propagandizing a point of view.
John taught that basically, you go shoot some footage, good, bad, whatever, and then you see what you've captured. You edit that into a story, add narration, connective footage or documentation, but you do not go out with a "script" or any intention of the story coming out one way or another. It's harder, it doesn't assure an audience, it doesn't assure funding or box office or awards.
But it's honest. It's "journalism."
It's "film truth."
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