Mark Janke of Overland Trailer – Featured Northwest Artist

We’ve known Mark for quite a while now and I was super stoked to hear that his documentary Historic Camping & Teardrop Trailers was recently featured at the Spokane International Film Festival. And not only is the documentary going to make you want to purchase, refurb, or build your own teardrop camper, it is also a not-for-profit production. Each copy of the film you purchase provides funds to send a copy of the dvd to schools in the United States, England, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, and Singapore. A win/win really. 🙂 You can also check out Mark’s blog Overland Trailer, it has some fun recipes and also has a great collection of posts about Mark building his own teardrop.

(For those of you who are new to the blog, PQ stands for Petra’s Questionnaire. Yes, I’m a big fan of the Proustian Questionnaire, and have unashamedly borrowed from it.)

PQ: Describe your approach to your art.  Mark: I hope to show the world something that is new. It may not actually be new but just forgotten & appears to be new. That is why I like history. There is a lot there that hasn’t been mined out for the general population to assimilate and consume. That’s why I made the first documentary and why I’m working on more projects.

PQ: Why do you love filmmaking/documentary making?  Mark: Hearing people’s stories. There is a lot of story that didn’t make my first film that I cherish in my memories of the interviews. To help those people tell their stories in a visual media simply makes me laugh. They get so excited about having a bigger voice. I can do nothing but be happy for them. I’m also an introvert who happens to be a geek. Editing can be therapy & allows me to play with awesome gadgets.

PQ: Where are you most inspired?  Mark: I’m most inspired when, at the core of my being, I am content and at peace with the current moment of life. This usually happens when I’m surrounded by the devastating beauty of nature. My family is a constant source of inspiration. Watching my students suddenly understand a concept & let it become part of who they are is also inspirational. I also feel this way EVERY time I listen to Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia.”

PQ: What is your artistic good luck charm?  Mark: Sunflower seeds (in the shell). They help me think, plan, and focus. I don’t know why. I usually end up with a bunch of disgusting soggy shells but also some quality work was accomplished. I guess I’m too pragmatic to pursue a new lucky charm.

PQ: What natural gift would you most like to possess that you don’t already?   Mark: Eternal Life

PQ: What is your motto?    Mark: May you truly live, and not merely be alive.

PQ: What advice would you give to a young person who dreams about doing what you do?   Mark: Take a law class or two. For my first film, I thought that it was going to be pure creative fun. It was fun -to be sure- BUT I also ended up doing a lot of legal garbage. I have a stack of paper about 2 inches high that is just legal waivers, permissions, and documentation. When the Ford Motor Company sponsored my film, I had a “book” of legalese to wade through and sign my agreement. Thankfully, I’ve had 5 law classes as part of my education and was able to navigate these things. Making a film is a total blast. Like everything in life though, it comes with some things that are not always fun.

PQ: What is your biggest success?   Mark: In the area of film, my biggest success was to have my 1st film featured at the 2012 Spokane International Film Festival. Typically, a first film never goes anywhere so this was a tremendous surprise. My film was the first of the 30 features that sold out –also an honor. I’d really consider it successful if my work inspired people to go outside.

PQ: What is your biggest regret?   Mark: Being unbalanced. When I commit to something, I’m into it 100%. This sometimes means that I lose the balance of those critical elements of life – social interaction, family life, spirituality, exercise & health, and education.

PQ: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?  Mark: I woke up in the middle of emergency appendix surgery. I was strapped to a table with a tube down my throat and a 6 inch open incision in my side. I couldn’t move or say anything. Thankfully someone realized I was awake and I quickly slipped back into a velvety-soft deep dark hole. I’m glad it happened because now I am thankful for anesthesia and I have a great story to offer as an answer to your question.

PQ: What is your dream of happiness?   Mark: Seeing my daughter grow up and succeed at whatever she chooses to do in life. (I assume this will also apply to any subsequent offspring we happen to spawn.)

PQ: What is the one physical object you currently desire?   Mark: Within reason: A 27” iMac with Logic & Final Cut Pro X of course!   Ridiculous: A time machine.

PQ: What is one emotional thing you currently desire?   Mark: That feeling when someone you love holds you in a long hug while standing in the shade on a sunny day. Ha ha. That looks really stupid in black & white on a page! That’s what I desire though.

PQ: Whose work, other than your own, are you most excited about right now?   Mark: I have a friend who has been working for years on a feature film about her family in the 1920s. She was supposed to have this project completed last year but her husband got really sick and her priorities necessarily shifted to him. Things are stable now and it looks like her film will arrive in April, 2012. Here’s her website: I have a lot of childhood friends, a colleague, and a current student in the film too. I didn’t know any of them were in it until I watched trailer for the film.

PQ: What are you currently reading?   Mark: I don’t just read one book at a time so here’s the list:  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand,  The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan, What Good Is God? by Philip Yancey, The Long Run by Mishka Shubaly, and The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.

PQ: What are you currently listening to?  Mark: Primarily Hooverphonic but ATBRadioheadDecyfer Down, & Thelonious Monk are also in the mix.

PQ: Who is your favorite painter/artist?   Mark: I’ve had the privilege of living in Europe and personally viewing a lot of the great art of the world. The nameless Greek stone carvers are my favorite. Their carvings of people/gods are so real that, at times, my eyes deceived me into thinking they were breathing. If I had to name an artist I’d choose Van Gogh. Architecture? – Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

PQ: What documentarians/filmmakers are you loving right now?   Mark: I Believe I Can Fly: Flight of the Frenchies by Sébastien Montaz – Great camera angles, innovative hardware ideas, and a great story. Plus, it is exciting to see some Frenchmen risking their lives. High Strung by Tommy Thompson – A recent film graduate who turned out a spectacular stop motion film. I met him at the Spokane International Film Festival. He’s a great guy who spent 3 years making his 15 min film. I asked him if he ever saw a girl during that time. He said, “yes…from afar.” He is my current definition of tenacity.

PQ: Who are your favorite musicians?   Mark: The Beatles, U2, Hooverphonic. I also have my Journey moments.

PQ: Who are your favorite writers?   Mark: St John, H. G. Wells, Ted Dekker, Robert Pirsig, Brother Lawrence, Thomas Merton.

PQ: Who is/are your favorite poets?   Mark: King Solomon, Scott Cairns, Edgar Allan Poe.

PQ: Who are your favorite heroes/heroines in fiction? (t.v., movies, or books)   Mark: Jeeves from the P.G. Wodehouse inspired BBC series Jeeves and Wooster. He’s just a flippin’ genius.

PQ: Who are your favorite heroes/heroines in real life?   Mark: My family, my friends, good cooks, cancer survivors, people who chose to resolve their problems in peace instead of using violence (yes, I am a teacher!), recovering alcoholics, and anyone who is naturally giving and kind.

PQ: What do you most value in your friends?   Mark: Their thoughts, sharing stories, and their constant encouragement.

PQ: What are your greatest strengths?    Mark: I’m curious.

PQ: To what faults do you feel most indulgent?   Mark: Anti-social at times, cynical, procrastinator.

PQ: What is your favorite virtue?    Mark: AH… axiology.  Hmmm……….  This will make me sound like a hippie, but “Love.” Especially love when it is given to someone who doesn’t “deserve” to be loved. Not that love should operate on the rules of economics.

PQ: What is your favorite vice?    Mark: OLIVES. Jalapeño stuffed OLIVES, habanero stuffed OLIVES, a whole can of cheap supermarket OLIVES for supper, dried OLIVES, green OLIVES with red pepper flake. OLIVES with mushrooms in OLIVES oil. OLIVES salad.  You get the idea.

PQ: What, to your mind, would be the greatest of misfortunes?   Mark: To have a heart attack during a game of charades.

PQ: What would be the happiest of good fortunes?   Mark: Knowing that I was a loving parent and husband.

PQ: What is your favorite color?   Mark: Orange.

PQ: What is your favorite hot beverage?   Mark: The coffee my wife makes when we’re camping.

PQ: What is your favorite item of clothing?   Mark: Buffalo Jeans by David Bitton and thick socks.

PQ: What is art?   Mark: Humanity’s attempt at being God.

If you’ve been inspired to go teardrop camping, or just camping at all for that matter, Mark has a list of books he recommends as great camping reads.

The Oath (Frank Peretti) – A great spooky story for the woods.

A Fine And Pleasant Misery (Patrick McManus) – Hilarious short stories that are perfect for all ages around a camp fire.

The Boys Of Everest (Clint Willis) – Amazing stories & garanteed to make a bad camp trip seem a lot better.

Manly Hero (of course)- Adventures, travel & camp fire scenes. Great humor.   *(No, we didn’t pay him to put us on this list. But we think it’s awesome, and probably owe him some tea next time we hang out.) 😉

Into the Wild (Jon Krakauer) – Freedom of travel & leaving the tough roots of home only to find need of them again.

Black Wave (John Silverwood and Jean Silverwood) – A family travels the earth &, in the midst of tragedy, finds what really matters.

And now you should check out Mark’s trailer trailer. Yes, I really wanted to say that. 🙂

Preview of “Historic Camping & Teardrop Trailers” from overlandtrailer on Vimeo.

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