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We were saddened to hear that long time club member John Gorst had passed away. Our thoughts are with his family.
Here are some memories of John from club members who knew him well.
From Bob Bennett :
I first really got to know John back in 2003, even though I had been involved with him in several club films before then.
Nicholas Wray, the curator of the University of Bristol's Botanic Garden at Bracken Hill, wanted to make a 'year in the life of the garden' film before it moved to a new site. John was very enthusiastic to undertake this worthwhile project and recruited late member Ron Elson and myself to assist him.
So began a mammoth task involving around two dozen filming sessions at the garden over an eighteen month period and an edit, undertaken with relish by John and lasting several months, on his then revolutionary non-linear computer system.
That was the thing about him, his eager embracing of the latest technology and dogged persistence to do things correctly. If he started something, he saw it through to a conclusion.
John was a master of all trades: he would spend hours working on the garden of his house, think nothing of climbing ladders to paint things or clamber about on roofs to repair them. He designed and made all manner of things in his garage workshop, as well as repairing anything mechanical or electrical and made endless gadgets that could be used in film making.
I shall miss him for his kindness, enthusiasm and single mindedness.
From Gordon Young :
When we receive sad news about club members, long-held memories surface. Here are mine:
We filmed an ambitious documentary in 2003, Revd John Wesley and the New Room. It was a great success: hundreds of VHS and DVD copies were sold to Methodists who visited the Broadmead chapel from all over the world.
A shot of the octagonal lantern window in the roof was required. It just needed a quick clip of the elegant structure but John had other ideas. With typical unbridled enthusiasm, he converted an old washing-machine electric motor, gearing it down so that it could rotate a camera slowly through 360 degrees. It wasn’t used for the Wesley film but was invaluable in other productions.
His house was unique - hidden deep in Georgian Kingsdown, a modern house with no street number which had hand-built fittings, all done by John. Editing the Wesley film took place there. It was the time of linear editing and club members would have a couple of video recorders, synced to each other, for assembling shots. The flagship machine was a big white Panasonic beast, the AG 4700; John had two of them, twinned in all their pristine analogue glory.
For a shot of the statue of John Wesley in the cobbled courtyard at the New Room, John built a jib crane: long beams with a camera fitting at the end and a tripod mount at the fulcrum. Push down the far end and the camera rose majestically upwards. Some kind of gimbal arrangement ensured that the camera remained horizontal throughout its heavenward journey. Make no mistake, for us, John invented a steady cam - the entire crew were in awe.
With his enthusiasm, his remarkable technical ability and his maroon Volvo estate for transporting his ‘props’, John made a unique and significant contribution to ambitious club productions. I’m sure I speak for all members who recall his enthusiasm and creative energy – we wish to pay our respects and to offer our sincere condolences to Shirley.
From Graham Egarr :
I worked closely with John on a number of major club productions including 'Fire and Water', 'The Planets', and ‘Anne Teaks’.
John was a man of strong views and could perhaps best be described as being fun and infuriating. John was a doer he made things happen. When he became involved with a project, he brought tremendous enthusiasm and energy to it. He would drive it forward and overcome any problems.
Not only did he have boundless energy but he was always keen to take on new ideas. He was a pioneer in digital editing and the use of chroma-key by amateurs.
He combined artistic attributes with very considerable technical skills, and he also had the ability to innovate to solve problems. His inventive skill extended to many fields beyond filmmaking. He even designed a new form of window-opening frame.
I remember going on several trips with John and a film crew to capture key scenes for films including a memorable Sunday evening in Cardiff, the river at Henley-on-Thames and an unforgettable day-trip to London where, on the public bus in Greenwich he sang impromptu duets with the driver!
While John left BFVS some years ago he has left his mark in our archive of films.
From Tony Orr :
I first met John as a member of BFVS, he remained a family friend after he left the club, when we visited he would show us films he had made of his and Shirley's travels, all very well shot and edited. He was very knowledgeable in many fields and active in the local community.
Unfortunately his health began to decline and he was diagnosed with multiple ailments, passing away in January 2021. RIP John, he will be missed by his friends, family and the local community.