Wednesday, December 27, 2006
"As censorship takes hold of our culture, strangling our artists and filmmakers, the digital revolution marches forward with infinite possibilities for independent thinkers to get the work out into the world."
After working on ten Disney feature films John realized to do his own thing he must go out on his own to really make his mark in Hollywood. He left Disney and began the long hard road of script writing and independent film making.
Since then he had produced over twenty short films and two indi features. He has directed numerous documentaries on such prominent people as Doug Chaing, designer of the new Star Wars films and Tyrus Wong, designer of Bambi. He taught such diverse classes as figure drawing, sculpture, film design, storyboards, stop motion animation, and character design.
He is currently directing a Rock n Roll romantic comedy feature film which is now in post production.
Organizing and inspiring large groups of people.
Recommendations For John
Seven Dollar Productions
“I worked with John on several projects and found him to be quite simply the most creative individual I've ever come in contact with. I ended up running a video camera on him the entire time we worked together as he is always in creative/teaching mode and I didn't want to miss anything. He is a fountain of creative brilliance.”
Todd Squad, Web/Video Designer, Mind Control Studios
“My first recollection of John's films is over ten years ago, in New York. Our drawing teacher trained us rigorously in the ways of "reportage," a style of illustration popular in the 1960's, where artists would go on location and draw what they saw. A great example of this is Ronald Searle's sketchbook of Paris, or even better yet, his series of war drawings. One of John's many experiments was reportage through film. He did an incredible montage of images in Manhattan, some of which were assembled into his first feature film. Since then, John's experimentation has been ceaseless. Perhaps most astounding is his cinematography. John's visual vocabulary is encyclopedic, and his preparation before a shoot is staggering. I have often told others that I could give a camera and the same subject matter to a dozen different people, and somehow, John would be the most original. It could be the most mundane object, but somehow, John's way of seeing is almost transcendent. Our long-running joke has been that making a great film shouldn't cost millions of dollars--as a matter of fact, it should only cost seven (the price of a movie admission, in those days). Hence, the name of John's company--"Seven Dollar Productions." Ultimately, the vision of a filmmaker comes from within. You could have limitless money, but without true originality, there is nothing.”
Cynthia Ignacio, Visual Development Artist, Walt Disney Feature Animation
Production Design Professor
Gnomon School of Visual Effects
“Although some students at Gnomon aren't prepared for the type of class that John provides, I found him to be one of the most inspirational teachers that I have had. He taught my Storyboarding class as well as my Production Design class. John thinks out of the box and really pushes his students to free themselves to develop their abilities in the best way possible. He doesn't force anyone to do anything but gently suggests different ways to approach things. John is a free spirit and a light hearted person who is highly encouraging. I really appreciated his attitude and his support in inspiring his students to pursue whatever interests they had. I highly recommend any of John's classes. He is an awesome person.”
Top qualities: Personable, High Integrity, Creative
“John Mahoney is the best instructor I have ever had. I took his production design class at Gnomon School of Visual Effects november 2006. I notice John had an uncanny drawing ability, so I asked him to help me improve my drawing. Not only did he help me learn to draw a lot better but he became my mentor and fuel a dramatic change in my overall artistic prowess. The most valuable aspect of the training was drawing with ink and not trying to mimic reality. For about 4 months I was not allowed to draw with pencil or use color. This forced me to not sketch but to draw with confidence. When you don't have an eraser you are forced to make decisions and stick with them he said. John taught us not to worry about drawing photo realistic images but rather a stylized render of what we saw. This was a magical experience for me personally. My ability to render life realistically grew from drawing stylistically. Just complete the drawing - don't worry about errors, said John. I remember starting several drawings that I thought were terrible in the beginning and being 200% percent pleased with the results of the completed image. Not using color forced me to create colorful marking as well as texture that added more and emotion to my work. I also learned how to gather and use reference material effectively. John taught me how to simulate inspiration and keep it flowing even in periods of a block. Within a period of 4-5 months I had excelled in concept creation, figure drawing, illustration, sculpting and color theory. After the class was over I continued to stick close by John.”
Top qualities: Personable, Expert, High Integrity
Visual Development Artist
Walt Disney Feature Animation
“John is the most innovative artist I've ever met. In the midst of an extremely conservative and corporate culture, he has been able to take risks and bring in a fresh new vision. One of the most difficult things is to challenge the status quo and be a true pioneer--to freely express one's point of view in a powerful and personal way. John's work has been a revelation, and a true reflection of his evolution as an artist.”
Cynthia Ignacio, Visual Development Artist, Walt Disney Feature Animation
Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida
“Our mentor, David Passalacqua, used to regale us with stories of working with Walt Disney himself. It was mind-boggling, the idea of someone actually having met Walt personally. Walt Disney--a creative genius. A man who imagined things, dreamed things--and made them come true. As a result of these stories, John and several of our classmates from Pratt Institute wanted to work at the Disney studio. I interned at their Florida animation studio in 1991, and later was employed there full-time. John interned around 1993. John is not what they call in the industry, a "wrist." The studio was probably not fully prepared for an artist like John. The closest thing they'd ever seen to someone like him, was probably Tim Burton. While the other interns were tracing and cleaning-up Disney characters, John would build stop-motion puppets and experiment with Disney's Lyon-Lamb system. During figure-drawing classes, he would surround himself with dozens of books by master draftsmen. At lunchtime, he would go walking in the Disney themeparks, and practice "reportage," something we'd been trained in by our teacher David Passalacqua. Most people at the Disney studio didn't know what to make of it. Attendees of the figure drawing classes were intrigued, and John started to have a bit of a following. A few of them started sketching in the themeparks with John. It was almost life-changing for them. This may have been the point at which John became a teacher, sharing the ideas that David Passalacqua had given us back at Pratt Institute. Our teacher has since passed away, and John has continued to teach in the same tradition as Passalacqua once did. "Imagine things, dream things--and make them come true."” December 18, 2007
Cynthia Ignacio, Layout Artist, Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida
Pixar Development Artist
John, long time no see,
Well i have some good news to tell you, i got
hired as a development sketch artist up here
at Pixar! In the land of computers i’m gonna
be drawing all day, and lovin it. And i wanted
to thank you for mentoring me and helping me
stay on the path to finding my own artistic
voice, instead of just having me copy a generic
style that people feel is safe.
There are a lot of teachers and people out
there who feel like everyone should play it
safe, take no chances and just pursue
things that they think will get the job done.
Or even learn how to draw a certain way
or in a particular style, that they think will
get you a job. But you never did that. You
always had me thinking outside the box and
having me bite off more than i can chew
( in a good way ). You instilled confidence in
myself that if i did what i do best, developed
my art in my own way, that it would take me
places, and get me the types of jobs that i
would want. You always had me pursue my
own vision and doing things the way i wanted
to, and with out your passion to teach and
help me a long through school and my art,
I would not be where i am today and i really
wanted to thank you for that.
Your one of the best teachers i’ve ever had,
and i hope you know that you made a serious
impact on my life in the most positive way.
When ever i can come back down to LA id
love to stop by your class and say hello, i wish
i could tell you what they have me working on
right now, all i can say is it would definitely be
right up your alley.
In the mean time ill send you any of my own
personal artwork that i do, and i’m gonna be
starting on a children’s book so when i finish
that ill be sending a copy your way.
Thanks again for everything, take care.
PS : Tell everyone at Cal Arts i said hey, and
to listen to you, cause you know