John Walker
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                  John Walker                                                    With Stan Walega (far right) preparing the set for 'Looking at Reptiles'

John J. Walker was a transitionary filmmaker at Encyclopaedia Britannica films, whose science films bridged the era between the staid, didactic titles of the 1950s, and the exciting new science films, made by directors such as Bert Van Bork, in the 1960s.  Walker, who made over 80 films for EB,  was a consummate craftsman, whose wonderful time-lapse cinematography can be appreciated in 'Seed Dispersal' (1956).   Many of John's films were made for young learners, while others were made for high school and college-level students. 

John was born on October 24, 1908, in Clairton, PA, and graduated from Pittsburgh's Carnegie Tech School of Drama.  In 1933 Walker was hired by the National Park Service as a motion picture photographer to help film achievements of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).  He covered over 40,000 miles for the CCC, and was selected to work with ERPI films to develop a series of six films on geology.   In 1937, he was permanently hired by ERPI, which soon was absorbed under the Encyclopaedia Britannica umbrella.

From 1942 through 1946, he served with the Army Air Force as a photographic officer as well as an instructor in aerial combat photography.  He replaced Colonel Hal (Our Gang) Roach as Liaison Photographic Officer  for the 9th Bomber Command.  His Army buddies included Ronald Reagan and Van Heflin, and was discharged in 1946, having risen to the rank of Major.

John continued making films, on mostly science and nature subjects, for EB through 1972, when he retired.  In retirement, he continued with his passion of still photography, and gave lectures on his films and travels.  He passed away in Fort Collins, CO, on August 23, 1986.  (Thanks to Craig Walker for John's biographical information.)

About John Walker, filmmaker Tom Smith writes:

"Johnnie may have produced more film at EB than any other producer/director (perhaps second only to Milan Herzog .) Johnnie specialized in biology films – ants, mammals, birds etc…  When I began in at EB he was part of the older generation. He valued prompt arrival at the office, dressed in suit and tie he seeming to survey me as a young upstart. I’d roll in to the office at five past nine and he’d be standing in his office door. He’d look at me as I passed, then, glancing at his watch he’d say, “Good morning Tom.” I laughed about it then and it still brings a smile. He also left promptly at 5:00 while I often worked into the night. But his contribution was substantial. Something I may not have appreciated till later.  It is sad that Walker has become a forgotten name.

"I spoke to the two-time Academy Award winner cinematographer and filmmaker Haskell Wexler a couple years ago. We were in a social situation and he sat across from me while we had a picnic lunch. I told him that I was once a producer at EBF and had heard he too worked there. I told him Johnnie Walker once told me he taught Wexler how to load film in the Mitchell camera. (This happened a few years after WWII.) I asked him if he recalled Walker and his time at EBF. Wexler beamed. He said he loved that period of film making in his life. It was an ideal place to learn the craft. He also found Walker to be a patient and considerate man, teaching Wexler the ropes. Nearly with tears in his eyes, Wexler said that it has been so many years ago at times he wonders if it really happened or if his EBF days were only an old filmmaker’s dream. I assured him it was all very real."

Warren Everote, who served as president of Encyclopaedia Britannica Films, remembers:

"I first met John when I was a graduate student at Columbia University and he was a cameraman for ERPI films, predecessor of EBF. He filmed "Circuits" the first script I ever wrote on a free-lance basis.  When I officially joined EBF in 1946 I met Major John Walker again. He had also just returned from World War II where he served in a camera unit that I think was headed by Hollywood's Hal Roach.  He was cameraman on several of my early films such as "The Water Cycle," "Fire," and "Sound Waves and Their Sources." He was in charge of filming the "Arnold Toynbee Lectures" (a very difficult project) at Washington and Lee University in 1958. He acted as consultant on other special projects such as our course on Chemistry and the one on Physics. Until its later days EBF didn't provide credits on its films for anyone other than collaborators so John's name was not on many of the projects he filmed."

John J. Walker, Producer: Filmography

1939    Navajo Indians
          Truck Farmer, The  

1940    French Canadian Children 

1947    Making Bricks For Houses
          Wool – From Sheep To Market 

1950    Strands Grow, The

1953    Black Bear Twins – 2nd Edition 

1955    Plant Traps – 2nd Edition
          Worms – The Annelids 

1956    Bird Homes
          Flowers At Work (2nd Ed)
          Goldfinch Family
          The Monkey Who Would Be King
          Seed Dispersal (2nd Ed)

 1957    Farm Animals (2nd Ed)
           Growth Of Seeds
           Learning About Flowers
           Robin Red-Breast (2nd Ed) 

1958    Art in the Western World: the National Gallery of Art
          Learning About Leaves 

1959    Maps For A Changing World (2nd Ed)
          Migration Of Birds: Canada Goose
          Mother Deer And Her Twins 
          Barua A Soltani: The King's Letter (Produced by John Barnes, Technical director John Walker, narrated by Isak Dinesen)
          The Wine of the Tetrarch (Produced by John Barnes, Technical director John Walker, narrated by Isak Dinesen)

1960    Animals Useful To Man
          Corky The Crow
          Fungi
          Geological Work of Ice (2nd Ed)
          Learning About Bears
          Poultry On The Farm (2nd Ed)
          Stars And Star Systems
          Woody Woodchuck’s Adventure
          Zoo Baby Animals 

1961    Adaptive Radiation: Mollusks
          Blood, The
          Fresh Water Pond
          Gray Squirrel (2nd Ed)
          Gymnosperms
          Segmentation: Annelid Worms
          Tropical Rain Forest
          What is a Reptile?

1962    Angiosperms: Flowering Plants
          First Many-Celled Animals: Sponges
          Flatworms (Platyhelminthes)
          Growth Of Plants
          Jointed-Legged Animals:  Arthropods
          What Is A Bird? 

1963    Life Story Of A Crayfish
          Life Story Of An Earthworm
          Life Story Of The Snail
          Life Story of the Toad
          Life Story Of A Snake
          Life Story Of The Toad
          Meiosis: Sex Cell Formation
          Origin Of Land Plants: Liverworts and Mosses
          Photosynthesis (2nd Ed) 

1964    Life Story Of The Red-Winged Blackbird
          Looking At Amphibians
          Looking At Birds
          Looking At Reptiles

 1965    Message From A Dinosaur

 1966    Army Ants: a Study in Social Behavior
           Lambing
           Marsh Community, The
           Plant Through The Seasons, A: The Apple Tree
           Trees And Their Importance          

 1967    Chromosomes Of Man
            Life Story Of The Social Insect : The Ant
            Monarch Butterfly Story (2nd Ed)
            Red Fox, The : A Predator

 1968    Problems Of Conservation: Air

 1969    Coniferous Forest Biome
           Problems Of Conservation: Forest And Range
           Problems Of Conservation: Minerals
           Problems Of Conservation: Soil
           Problems Of Conservation: Water

 1970    American Flag, The (Rev)
           Garbage Explosion, The
           Problems Of Conservation: Our Natural Resources
           Problems Of Conservation: Wildlife 

1971    Aging Of Lakes , The

1972    Bird Who Was A Clown, The
          Buffalo:  An Ecological Success Story
          Galapagos, The: Darwin’s World Within Itself
          Land Of The Friendly Animals 


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