Award-winning filmmaker, NH alumnus shares story

Chloe Ward, Reporter

     In a world where being able to make a career off film is a rocky journey prone to failure, one North Harford alumnus has managed to go beyond his humble upbringing and turn his creativity filled dreams into reality.

     John Kinhart said he  grew up in the rural North Harford area, living in a trailer. At the age 13 he said he began working on a nearby farm, but he knew  his dreams went far beyond cattle and stalks of corn. 

He explains his true passion was art, “but that wasn’t a dream that was understood or encouraged by many at that time.”  He added it was not until high school was he able to truly connect with his calling.

     In high school Kinhart said  he took the classes the school had to offer to support his interests, and he  met one of his biggest supports, Mr. Glen  Grove. 

Grove was the film maker’s incentive for later studying at the Maryland Institution College of Art. Kinharte said he is grateful for this educator because “that set me on a trajectory of success that otherwise I would not have experienced.” 

     Also, during those years, he met another large inspiration in his life, best friend Steven Greenstreet, who was much more into film at the time, but they heavily connected and “influenced each other.” They both took to the same career in the future, after working on many short films together for fun. They later jointly produced a film that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival back in 2010. 

     After graduating in 1997, according to Kinhart, he did not initially consider continuing his side hobby with his friend into a career. He said being an artist was only an “abstract notion” that he could conceive post-college. “Being a filmmaker snuck up on me,” he expresses, “I started doing it for fun, but then when people started finding out that I could make videos, I started to get jobs.” He added that opportunities rose as he became more skilled at editing, filming, and directing. 

     He maintained a video editing job for a while, also making several underground films, one of which earned  6 Best Documentary Awards, was played at 22 film festivals, and released on DVD. 

     Kinhart’s journey was not always smooth, and the filmmaker’s employer was impacted by the 2008 financial crisis.  Kinhart said he still wanted to maintain and expand his career further. “I had no choice but to take the leap into being a full-time freelancer,” he explains, and he added it worked out better than anticipated. 

     Throughout his career, he has filmed and interviewed many interesting people, including J.J. Abrams, George Stephanopoulos, Art Spiegelman, Bill Maher, Kesha, Lauren Hill, and more. Currently, he is working on a “documentary about a cartoonist couple who are the pioneers of autobiographical comics,” as he describes.