I sometimes joke that I learned how to thread a film projector before I learned to walk. It is almost true. In the 1950’s my father, John K. Martin, to whom I owe so much, was the representative of the National Film Board in the province of Prince Edward Island. A big part of his work was using film in adult education and it involved going out to the church basements and community halls across the Island and showing films.
The projector was powered by a gas powered generator running noisily somewhere outside the hall as far as the extension cord would reach. The screening was often followed by a lively discussion and tea and squares provided by the local Women’s Institute. This was a time before much of rural P.E.I. had electricity. There was definitely not the distraction of television, so a large part of the community would show up.
I used to love going with my father to these film showings whenever I could. This was my introduction to film and its power to open up new worlds, hold an audience into a state of full attention, and later to spark discussion and debate. As it happens those are the things that I still love about filmmaking.
Most of what I saw those days were films from the NFB so thus it was that my artistic heroes became filmmakers like Tom Daly, Norman McLaren, Colin Low, Roman Kroiter and Donald Brittain and not the filmmakers of Hollywood.
John. K. Martin with his Projector
In my late teens I made my first film and sold it to the CBC, and it has been steady on since then, exploring the worlds of filmmaking and photography, first as an independent and then, like my father, I ended of working for the National Film Board. My brother, John Martin, also went into the film business and is one of the finest location sound recordists in the country.
This job has allowed me to see the world, meet many people in so many different circumstances, open my heart and mind, and given me the opportunity to collaborate with so many talented filmmakers and crafts people who have become my friends.