A Great Mind Moves On

Kenton Smith, “A great mind moves on,” Uptown Magazine August 25, 2011).

It seems possible to prolific Winnipeg Filmmaker Clint Enns that he’s made too many films.

“I haven’t really kept track,” he confesses, although he notes he’s got a total of 72 credits on the film- and video-making community website Vimeo.

There’s no question, however, that the 31-year-old—who’s leaving Winnipeg for film studies at York University this September—is distinguished in the local independent film scene by the sheer volume of his work. Not to mention quality; Uptown’s own art critic, Sandee (Snarkee) Moore, has called Enns a “genius.”

Then there’s film critic Mike Everleth of leading underground film website Badlit.com, who has expressed amazement at Enns’ unceasing productivity and experimentation. “Plus, it always feels like the rare underground film festival lineup that doesn’t include a film by Clint,” Everleth adds.

That’s not even counting Enns’ extracurricular activities, such as maintaining his own film web-site, Cineflyer. This past spring, he curated a program on early computer animation for Plastic Paper: Winnipeg’s Festival of Animated, Illustrated + Puppet Film, on top of co-coordinating the event.

He also recently curated the series Language Formed in Light at the Artspace building’s Black Lodge Studio, highlighting the work of featured national filmmakers and artists. Oh, and he’s been teaching at the University of Manitoba on the subject of math in art.

If you ask Enns—who first came to Winnipeg in 2005 to do a master’s in mathematics—why he’s going back to school, his answer perhaps reveals why he’s both so hard-working and so accomplished: there’s no complacency in him.

“I wish my films were better,” he says. “I haven’t ‘hit’ yet.”

It’s not for lack of trying. Enns admits he makes films the way others shoot ratios of usable film: “I usually do about three trials before I make a final, refined version of the experiment.”

Take his animated short Debbie Does Ascii, a computer-coded rendering of a clip from the 1978 porn Debbie Does Dallas. Both absurdly funny and trenchantly observant in its own right (“It’s an abstraction of an abstraction”), the film was a dry run for one of Enns’ most notable films, The Death of Natural Language—a poignant statement on technologically enabled communication breakdown.

It’s that merging of technique and subject that Enns loves. “You can say a lot about the world using experimental technique, that lends new insight.”

And for that matter, he just likes doing – or at least attempting to do—something entirely original. At least half the fascination in Enns’ work—whether it be the single-shot Back + Forth or the Super 8mm Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse, which appears computer-generated—is how it inspires the question: “How the hell did he do that?”

As for how long it will take for Enns to find his groove, he can’t say. “Who knows?” he laughs. But he promises one thing; he plans to return to the ‘Peg.

“I love it. It’s an amazing, vibrant film community—there’s so much going on and so much mutual support.”

Indeed, it’s also a community that unquestionably will be waiting for him to return.