Works in progress

Conjurer David Ben in ‘Yesno’

BDJ Films is not a company. It’s a diversion, by a film critic who has spent far more time watching films them making them. Now, after ending my 28-year stint as a writer at Maclean’s in early 2014, I’m in the thick of producing and directing Al Purdy Was Here, a feature documentary about a legendary Canadian poet and the restoration of his A-Frame cabin as a writing retreat. The film, exec-produced by Ron Mann, will be released by Films We Like and broadcast by the CBC Documentary channel in the fall of 2015. In tandem with the doc, I’ve created The Al Purdy Songbook, a benefit album of words and music inspired by the poet’s life and work. Contributors include Leonard Cohen, Bruce Cockburn, Jann Arden, Sarah Harmer and Greg Keelor, to name a few. Proceeds from the album will go to the A-Frame charity.

Meanwhile, this site serves as a personal archive of homemade videos, montages, bursts of festival reportage and interviews with various artists. Also there are two professional shorts films that I produced and directed, which both premiered at TIFF: Tell Me Everything (2006), a poetic montage of hands at work, featuring dancer Andrea Nann; and Yesno (2010) adapted from a book of poetry by Dennis Lee, featuring original voice recordings by six Canadian poets: Leonard Cohen, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, Karen Solie, d’bi young—and Dennis. Yesno features cinematography by Nick De Pencier, animation by Nick Fox-Gieg, and a score by Owen Belton. For more details, click on Yesno.

Yesno also screened at the Atlantic Film Festival,  the Woodstock Film Festival, The Vancouver Film FestivalRencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal (RIDM), the Whistler Film Festival, the  Victoria Film Festival  and  the inaugural San Francisco Green Festival.

To watch the full 7-minute festival version of Yesno, with animated credits, click here.
To watch the 6-minute Bravo!FACT version of Yesno, click here.

To watch my other films, click on FILMS in the menu bar; and for video interviews and reportage click on REPORTAGE.

This site is a work in progress, and very DIY. Bear with me.  Meanwhile, browse the top menu bar for films, photos and information. I have yet to input material from the Al Purdy documentary. But the site will be updated as time permits.

- Brian D. Johnson

An image from ‘Tell Me Everything,’ featuring dancer Andrea Nann