Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Remembering John Polonia: One Year Later

It's hard to believe it was one year ago today that b-movie filmmaker John Polonia passed away. This is what I wrote then:

John was an incredibly funny person who enjoyed home and family life and could talk movies with a great fervor. He turned this love of movies into a memorable filmmaking career.
John was a good friend to me and a lot of other filmmakers. He was a great lover of cinema and had a vast collection of movies stored on the shelves of his home and in his brain. He had a dream to make movies and lived that dream every single day since his teenage years. I spoke with him a few weeks ago about a new project I would rewrite over one of his scripts and he was as excited about these upcoming prospects as he was about every project.
I think we are too close to the Polonia Brothers' legacy for it to be properly measured. They first got distribution as teenagers and are noted for having one of the first shot on SVHS features to be accepted at Blockbuster. They produced and directed more than 30 features in 20-some years that were distributed direct to video. They were incredibly prolific and successful together and embraced a large fan base while being courteous to foes. Their role in the rise of VHS rentals, the mom and pop stores, the SOV era, and then the direct-to-video DVD boom, will have to be noted much farther down the timeline to see what they have really meant as people and professionals.
I can say in total honesty I have never met anyone like John. When I first saw "Blood Red Planet" I knew the Brothers were special as very unique filmmakers and I later came to learn they were incredible individuals as well.


You can read my original posts, with photos, blog comments, and links to other tributes, here, here, here, here, and here.

I was thinking about the last time I saw John Polonia. My family was returning from a trip to the east coast and stopped in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania on the way back to spend the night and visit with the Polonia Brothers. John and Mark and I sat on John's porch late at night and talked about movies.

Even though John knew about the Polonia Brothers Fan Club and various reviews and all the people they knew and helped in the industry he always took an ironic tone with their fame/infamy. But I think he would have been pleasantly surprised at all of the website memorials and tribute videos on YouTube and so on that came out in the wake of his death.

At the viewing, I could just imagine John looking at all of the former cast and crew people there and saying, "Let's make a movie." It was the main sentiment he shared at a surprise birthday party that was thrown for the Brothers a few years before. I have no doubt that in that long weekend he could have cooked up a good one.

John was, ultimately, a family man who lived in a small town, down the street from his twin brother, who loved making movies. It was a purity of purpose and surety of self that I aspire to.

1 comment:

Joe Barlow said...

Beautiful thoughts for a sad day. I still miss him very much, as I'm sure you do as well.