Metro Shorts Memories: John Osborne


*Metro Shorts was a quarterly film competition hosted and curated by Mostly Water Theatre and produced by The Metro Cinema Society located in the historic Garneau Theatre. It gave Edmonton filmmakers the chance to get their work screened live, adjudicated by professionals, get paid, win prizes, and be forced to make more shorts. It ran for 10 seasons, screened over 400 shorts, and ended in 2019. These stories are a celebration of some of the filmmakers that crossed our paths. 

Metro Shorts Memories: John Osborne

To have seen one of John Osborne’s videos before having met him, one would probably think the man was a bit off. Possibly a fellow who gives himself his own tattoos, or the type who screams for fun, and probably makes his own LSD.

Not that any of those are bad things but I can say from experience that John Osborne is the opposite of these assumptions.

Now, I can’t for sure say that John has not made his own LSD (because I’ve never asked him) but the subtlety of his caring persona is somewhat of a contrast to his videos. Take this one for example. 

John Osbourne’s ‘Pulse’:


John was a mainstay at Metro Shorts. Always having something interesting to offer line-up, I called him my Metro Dad because he has such a calming presence and was just an all around pleasure to be around. Think Alan Alda crossed with Grand Mof Tarkin (if Tarkin wasn’t such a malevolent bastard).

Here is a description of John, in his own words:

“I began experimenting with abstract images and film in the late sixties and later worked for two years as the principle operator at Merlot Scanimation, a computer animation studio in London, England. The studio’s novel hybrid analogue computer was used to make some of the first computer animated television commercials in the UK.

In 1975, I returned to Canada and began a 30-year career with a large multinational company but continued my interest in the visual arts. In early 2000, I returned to the computer as a creative tool and began experimenting with mathematical algorithms to generate patterns and abstract images. I began to animate these images to music, which I often composed myself. To compliment this activity and to explore more traditional animation themes, I began working with After Effects.

In general, I am interested in the relationship between sounds and images and exploring those through computer and video techniques. Over the last few years I have had films shown at festivals in North America and Europe.”

Here is his video ‘Patternicity’:


The thing about John is that the first films he created were basic animations scratched onto actual film. They were ghostly and primal and took many hours to create. A dedication that he kept with him and inspired his creative work all his life. He wasn’t only a visual artist though, he was a storyteller. One of his earlier films was him, jovially, building a bed from scratch. The next, one of himself dressed as Ozzy Osbourne for only reasons he could express. Now, he never filmed himself dancing around with a sock on his penis (I’m looking at you Breezy Brian Gregg), but you never knew what was going to happen with John. You just knew that you were going to enjoy it.

Here is ‘A Trip To Remember’:


Current Metro Cinema executive director Dan Smith had a couple of ‘pairing’ suggestions for anyone who is a fan of Osborne’s work. First, in going with the psychedelic overtones of the first two of John’s films in this story, he suggests a film called “Bacurau” which was one of the earlier films Metro offered for their virtual screenings. It’s a trippy near future Brazilian neo-western thriller. The catch is, Metro is not offering it anymore but The Civic Theatre in Nelson is still offering it. He suggests that if one wants to throw some support behind a cool theatre in Nelson doing similar things, they can check it out there.

Secondly, Smith suggested a food pairing. Oven roasted romanesco. The picture says it all.

Oven Roasted Romanesco

From the recipe book of Dan Smith:

“I would highly recommend enjoying these films with some Oven Roasted Romanesco. It is the most fractal related vegetable that I can think of and I would challenge anyone to find another vegetable that meets that description. It’s basically just really cool looking cauliflower. Here’s what you will need:

-1 large head of Romanesco
-Extra Virgin Olive oil (several glugs will do)
-Salt (sea or otherwise)
-Pepper (ground (…duh))
-3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
-A little onion powder
1. Chop Romanesco into bite sized pieces and put in large mixing bowl (this can differ from person to person).
2. Drizzle with several glugs of olive oil.
3. Add minced garlic, salt, pepper, onion powder, and stir well so everything is coated nicely.
4. Roast at 425 celsius until nice and crispy. Make sure to line the roasting pan with tin foil or parchment paper or you will get in trouble.
5. Enjoy while watching ‘Patternicity’.”

For more of the eclectic yet accessible work of John Osborne, visit his vimeo site HERE.

Special thanks go to The Metro Cinema Society and all the awesome people we (Mostly Water Theatre) worked with along the way. Without them all, none of these memories would be so vivid and brilliant. If you wish to support the Metro Cinema Society, visit their site and peruse their offerings. Here is the link HERE.

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