Jon Pedersen (writer, director, producer, editor, cameraman, IT specialist, and carpenter) was born 26 September 1944 in Saint John, NB. He is the son of Martha (Golding), homemaker, and Kenneth Pedersen, graphic artist. His grandfather Walter Golding founded the Imperial Theater in Saint John (1913). Pedersen attended primary and high school in Saint John. In grade eleven, his family moved to Hampton, NB, where he graduated from Hampton High School. After attending Mount Allison and Carleton University, he turned from higher learning and began to travel throughout Canada and abroad. He returned to Hampton in 1970 to help raise his younger siblings after his parents’ untimely deaths (three years apart).
Pedersen began his artistic career by writing poetry. His primary influences were T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost. Although he never published this poetry, he transferred many of its social and philosophical themes to film. His primary influence in filmmaking was Werner Herzog’s The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974) (aka Every Man For Himself and God Against All), a film about alienation, which is a common theme in Pederson’s poetry. His interest in film grew into the creation of Capitol Films Inc. (1984), the first English-language company in two generations to produce films and to instill an interest in film culture within New Brunswick. Originally located on York Street, the business aimed to establish a film industry in New Brunswick by training local writers of fiction to write screenplays. As part of this effort, Capitol Films Inc. established the Capitol Film Society to host weekly screenings of low-budget independent films (which were not available in Fredericton until then). This event attracted a loyal following of would-be screenwriters and film buffs who gathered weekly to discuss filmmaking and how it might invigorate New Brunswick culture. Pedersen and his wife Freda hosted these gatherings.
Pedersen’s first production was entitled This is the House that John Built (1972), a National Film Board video project documenting the construction of a house by sculptor John Hooper. It was followed by Tara’s Mulch Garden (1973), a 16mm film project also solicited by the National Film Board: critically acclaimed, it received an award at the Columbus Film Festival. (He had originally wanted to make a film on a cheese factory that was closing.) His next film, John Hooper’s Way With Wood (1976), was another National Film Board project. Ski Peru! (1978) was his first independently produced film. It was about climbing and skiing a 22,000-foot mountain, and it received a Golden Sheaf award at the Yorkton Film Festival. This project introduced him to the travails of film distribution: he spent two months traveling throughout Canada and the United States, only selling twenty prints of the film.
In 1984, he wrote, directed, and edited Alden Nowlan: An Introduction, again for the National Film Board. His proudest achievement, it received an award at the Atlantic Film Festival and was shown in schools throughout Canada. Pedersen’s only full-length feature film followed. Tuesday, Wednesday (1987) aired at the Montreal Film Festival, Atlantic Film Festival, and AFI Festival in Los Angeles. Originally written by David Adams Richards, the film was featured for its Canadian content at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. On the heels of that feature came a short film for the New Brunswick Committee on Literacy, entitled Words (1990), which Pedersen wrote, directed, edited, and produced. After a 10-year hiatus (during which he worked as an IT network engineer), he returned to the field with a one-hour television documentary for CTV called Tabitha’s Journey (2006), which told the story of a father’s journey across Canada with his disabled daughter.
Pedersen’s talents and willingness to cultivate interest and produce film in New Brunswick makes him an important provincial cultural worker. Not a typical filmmaker, he has created films that portray people in the grip of ordinary experiences. In 1991, he received the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Cinematic Arts. He currently has a long-term feature film in production entitled Cheap Talk (1988), and he continues to work with his brother Mark on various video projects, one of which is The Canadian Antiques Roadshow.
Natalie Jargaille, Winter 2009
St. Thomas University
Bibliography of Secondary Sources
Easterbrook, Ian K, et al, eds. Canada and Canadians in Feature Films: A Filmography 1928-1990. Guelph: Canadian Film Project, 1996.
Film Video Canadiana 1987-1988. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1990.
Gerulaitis, Renate. "Recurring Cultural Patterns: Werner Herzog's Film Every Man for Himself and God Against All, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser." Journal of Popular Culture 22.4 (Spring 1982): 61-70.
Pedersen, Jon. Personal Interview. 5 Nov. 2008.
“Tuesday, Wednesday.” Variety 2 Sept. 1987.