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Filmmaker develops artistry

By : Rachel Coker

John Wilson

John Wilson has been making movies his whole life, ever since he was a boy growing up in Rocky Point on Long Island.

“I wanted to get out of this aesthetic box I had been in,” he said of his reasons for choosing Binghamton. “It benefited me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.”

Wilson, now 21 and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in cinema, was recently named the recipient of the $1,000 Patricia Kerr Ross Award for Film and Video Arts, a SUNY-wide honor intended to be a bridge from college into a professional career in the arts.

He presented three films to the judges’ panel: Looner, a documentary about balloon fetishism; Luxe, a video he and a friend were commissioned to create for a fashion show in Boston; and Drawn Out, a short experimental piece that combined live action and animation.

Like many filmmakers, Wilson dreams of cinematic recognition and life as a Hollywood bigshot. But he’d be happier with something smaller, too, he said, as long as he can keep making movies and growing as an artist.

Wilson prides himself on working within his means, even if that means a $40 budget for a project. The $1,000 fellowship will support the creation of a short film that Wilson hopes to make this summer and enter into festivals. He mostly shoots with digital equipment, though he loves to work with film when funding allows.

“You can have all the money in the world and make something horrible,” he said, “and you can not have a dime and make something brilliant.”

When he’s not making movies, Wilson enjoys photography and singing. The tenor was president of the Binghamton Crosbys, an a capella group, this year. His signature song was Hey You by Pink Floyd.

His role models as a filmmaker include Michel Gondry, director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He said Gondry has embraced the practicality of filmmaking while showing just how much imagination counts.

Wilson plans to work with his childhood friend Chris Maggio, a Boston University graduate. They started a company called The Future Machine and have already posted some of their work online at

Wilson said the Internet has created a great audience for short films. “I’m glad to have that auxiliary venue,” he said.

Ariana Gerstein, associate professor and chair of the Cinema Department, said Wilson has worked hard to develop his artistic vision while supporting other cinema students in their pursuits.

“Jack has always been critical of himself and his peers,” she said. “He doesn’t settle for ‘good enough.’ This is a special quality. Many students are happy with what they are able to achieve and supportive of each other. Jack has a very critical and discerning eye for one so early in his artistic career.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08