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This article appeared in Edina Sun Current - By Katy Koch

Films range from disabled to kids of divorce

With his JP Mediaworks business eight years in the making, John Prin is at last enjoying international recognition for his work creating and producing videos he calls "learning tools."

Prin, who was born in St. Louis Park and reared in Edina from the age of 10, recently won a bronze award for excellence in his video "Bringing Light to the Shadows." The award was presented at the 41st annual Columbus International Film & Video Festival.

The video showcases Partnership Resources Inc., a Twin Cities non-profit organization that works to incorporate persons with disabilities into mainstream society by developing skills and working in partnership with businesses to provide jobs.

Similar to other videos the 49-year-old Prin has written, developed and produced, "Bringing Light to the Shadows" is a dramatization of a contemporary social concern. His subject matter has ranged from children of divorce to family violence issues and recovery for black Americans.

John Prin - film maker

John Prin, seated, in the Minneapolis airport, reviews a script during filming of his 1990 production, "Between Planes and Parents."

Some of the videos he produces and markets himself; others are for such clients as Johnson Institute, the Ryland Group and Goodwill Industries. This year he produced the video "Your City's Families," about how government serves families, for Minneapolis Mayor Don Fraser.

Most of the videos contain supplemental manuals, some question and answer guides, to help viewers explore and discuss the psychological and social impacts of the issues. "Building Trust and Making Friends," for example, contains group activity manuals for high-risk students.

To develop the supplemental materials Prin consults with psychologists, sociologists and other professionals who review the content.

Prin's focus on videos comes in part from a personal interest and a professional understanding that his work he subject-matter driven. He comes from a family background of "a lot of brokenness," he said, and has grown in understanding over the years. He wants to "make a difference" with his work as a writer and videographer.

In five years of work as a writer and video producer for Control Data in the mid-1980s, Prin said he learned a journalistic approach — "As a real journalist your job is to get out of the way" and let the subject drive the story. He considers himself an "audience advocate."

He uses the metaphor of a playroom to describe his creative process, which characterizes producing. Beginning with "Creating the room in which the playroom can exist," Writing is "putting the toys in." Directing is "throwing the toys around," Prin believes.

Even JP Mediaworks headquarters, Prin's household on Wilryan Avenue in Edina, models creativity. A colorful, three-dimensional soft sculpture of a rain forest, a design of 19-year-old Emily, a sophomore at Drake University, graces the wall near the conference table. Susie Prin, John's wife, works professionally as a liturgical dancer.

For the defining moment in his career, Prin looks back at 1962, his senior year at Edina High School. He remembers the first day of English class with teacher Ev Anderson.

Anderson burst into the room well after the bell sounded, wielding an imaginary sword, "wailing `Beowulf' in Old English" and saying, "Please take out your paper and pencils, we're going to write an epic poem," Prin recalled.

"He got my pen moving. He didn't say it had to be `A, B, A, B' (iambic pentameter) or have a rhyme scheme.... It eventually came down to that, but (the writing) wasn't about iambic pentameter. It was about life," Prin said.

"He awakened in me the writer," the creative force that underlies his work in video, Prin said.


This article appeared in Edina Cun Current— November 17, 1993