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Tag: Jon Spira


Horrible Imaginings Podcast #167: Talking Video Shop Life with Videosyncratic Author Jon Spira

Oh man, when two cineastes decide to have a conversation watch out! It is hard to contain the purest of enthusiasm for movies that erupts when you put me on Skype with my friend Jon Spira! You might remember that from episode 157, when he joined me to discuss his documentary Elstree 1976, which you can click on that link to purchase. It's also available in Netflix, I feel obliged to mention.

Anyway, a few days back I noticed that Jon wrote an article for Huffington Post called "The Death of DVD will Haunt Us", the content of which you can probably guess, but it's worth a read. I shared it on my Facebook page and it started a great conversation and over 100 shares. For us film geeks, this topic is a sensitive one, it seems. Through that Facebook thread, I learned that Jon had written a new book that he was currently selling on Kickstarter called Videosyncratic, which is named after the pair of video stores (or shop, in the UK vernacular) he used to own in Oxford. The book is a memoir all about how the video shop has been firmly rooted in who he has become as a person. I read the entire book in one sitting and loved it. Even if someone's tastes are not in complete accordance with Jon's, I think every horror, exploitation, or cult film fan has experienced the outcast phenomenon that their love for movies has created, and the sanctuary we all felt when we used to go to the video stores as kids. Every one of you will appreciate the wit and humor in this book. Some parts are laugh out loud hilarious, and even touching.

We go on a lot about life as a film lover in this episode. It was a joy to record, and I think a lot of you will love listening to it. In fact, it was such a long (and times meandering) conversation, that I had no choice but to cut about 25 minutes out where Jon and I were admiring each other's big-box VHS tapes and action figures on the Skype video. It is pretty hilarious--we talk about the film A Monster Calls, too. I decided to make that part available to my Patreon Patrons (all subscriber levels)! Hey! That's an idea! Head over to that link now and subscribe for a buck a month! That goes to A LOT of projects that support the horror community, horror film makers, and other monstrous projects!

I wish I had the chance to visit this place!

  If you are still hooked on VHS, or have some strong memories about growing up renting and owning VHS, then be there for the first ever Mass Hypnosis Podcast! Heather Buckley and I will be taking calls LIVE at on Tuesday, January 31st from 9pm EST, 6pm Pacific--all to discuss VHS Memories! Don't miss our flagship episode tomorrow night! The show will happen every last Tuesday of the month with a different topic! You can call TOLL FREE 844-505-DETH to be part of the show!

Subscribe to the Horrible Imaginings Podcast right here. You can also listen here on Dread Central or on the Horrible Imaginings website. You can help keep the podcast, the film festival, and our horror community going for only $1 per month! Become a patron at our Patreon for exclusive content and perks! Find out about San Diego horror events on our FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube, and always stay scared!


June 13, 2016 Posted by admin in General

#157: Documenting Lives--A Conversation with Elstree 1976 Director Jon Spira

elstree posterLast week, Horrible Imaginings presented a week of screenings of the new documentary Elstree 1976 at the Digital Gym Cinema here in San Diego, California. During the Saturday night screening, director Jon Spira graciously agreed to talk to the theater after the screening for a Q&A via Skype. What this meant for him was setting the alarm clock for 3:30 AM in the UK. It was an engrossing conversation, but Elstree 1976 wasn't the last film on the schedule that night and our Q&A was cut short. Partly because of this, I decided to contact Jon again on my own for a more in-depth podcast episode. What I got was one of the most involving and sincere conversations about cinema I've ever had. This could be one of the podcasts I am most proud of.

Incidentally, while editing last night I heard Jon pronounce his last name and I realized that I have been mispronouncing it for a very long time. I've been saying "Spira" with the Spanish "i": "Speera." I think it is correctly pronounced with a long "i." Sorry about that, Jon!

Anyway, as I was saying, this is an epic episode. As with the documentary Elstree 1976, it is more reflective and meditative, more philosophical. Listening to it again last night was an almost cathartic and intense experience. As you all know, yesterday was also the day we all found out about the ruinous mass shooting in Orlando where 50 people lost their lives. It was impossible not to have that on the back of my mind while editing this podcast, where Jon and I talk meticulously about how "every life is interesting" and how focusing on any one person in the crowd will reveal a beautifully complex and full life. The juxtaposition of these thoughts and the knowledge that 50 such lives were ruthlessly gunned down was an intoxicating emotional roller coaster. I have to dedicate this episode--one I am extremely proud of--to the people who lost their lives in Orlando yesterday.

Here are some of the main things we talk about:
1: Jon's most important interview project
2: The Q&A at Digital Gym Cinema
3: Unbelievable exhuastion
4: The challenge of depicting without exploiting
5: Documentarians and their power of manipulation
6: Truth Vs. Perspective
7: In defense of "talking heads"
8: The power of the close up on a human face
9: Infantilized culture
10: The internet age of film criticism
11: Audience expectations vs. challenging audiences
12: I DO go to bat for indie horror!

Jon's Talking Head

Jon's Talking Head