John Richard // Bocce Ball Films

John Richard // Bocce Ball Films // Cinematography 2019

Featured Projects

Saving Brinton, 2017, 87 min (Trailer)

A film by Tommy Haines, Andrew Sherburne and John Richard

Saving Brinton follows the story of Michael Zahs and W. Frank Brinton—two men born a century apart, but bound together by 16 canisters of film and the gently rolling hills of Washington County, Iowa. 

Featuring treasured works by Georges Méliès and Thomas Edison, comedies and westerns, and 18th century travel films from Burma and Egypt, the collection was the lifeblood of Brinton’s barnstorming exhibitions, which introduced motion pictures to Eastern Iowa and much of the rural Midwest at the turn of the last century.

Using archival photos, hand-written notes, newspaper records, and present-day interviews, the film reveals the storied life of W. Frank Brinton, an off-beat wealthy futurist, world-traveler, inventor and pioneering motion picture exhibitor. A creative, successful, worldly man who chose to make his home in Washington, Iowa.

Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation reports that over 90% of films made before 1929 have been lost forever, meaning the Brinton collection—dating back to 1895—is rare indeed. But Zahs, a retired history teacher, tells us “history is half geography,” insisting the films must be kept in Iowa, not shipped off to New York or D.C.

Michael's ultimate goal is the repremiere of the film collection at The Ainsworth Opera House. But along the way film audiences get to know many of the other places that depict the history and way-of-life in Washington County: The Washington 175th Birthday, a one-room church, Indian burial grounds, a group of children that Michael takes on a bus tour, a seed-sack display in Ainsworth and one of Washington County's greatest assets: the fertile farmlands and natural beauty of Iowa's rolling hills.

The Simple Gift of Walnut Grove, 2015, 18 min (1-min teaser)

Directed / Photographed / Edited by John Richard

Production Assistance by James Davies

Music from The Danish String Quartet and Victor Borge

Executive Producer, John Mark Nielsen + Museum of Danish America

The Simple Gift of Walnut Grove is a short film about the life of an early 20th century Danish immigrant named Hans Hansen, as told by his son, 96 year old Walter Hansen. Hans emigrated from Denmark to the United States in 1899 and built a farm out of the native timber he found alongside a marginal piece of land on the Cedar River near West Branch, Iowa.  Within Walter's soft-spoken account emerges the dynamic of a father-son relationship forged under the harsh conditions of the early Midwestern settlement.

To purchase the complete 18 minute film on DVD from The Museum of Danish America's online shop, click here.

To view a more complete listing of festivals and screenings, visit the film page, click here.

The Reluctant Apocalypticist, 2014 (6 min.)


Directed / Photographed / Edited by John Richard

Additional video and sound by Christopher Vanderwall

This project began as a project about modern homesteading but its focus shifted as I followed and filmed Mr. Heffner at his home in rural Iowa and realized that so much about Dave was unique and unexpected.  His reluctance about the possibility of becoming truly self-sufficient after societal collapse was really interesting to me.  


Presenting Mister Lincoln, 2012 (7 min.)


Directed / Photographed / Edited by John Richard

Client /


It was 20 years ago that Lance Mack first realized that he bore a striking resemblance to Abraham Lincoln. He was teaching German at the University of Michigan when he had this revelation, and to him the only thing to do was, “to figure out what to do with it.” Follow Lance in this short documentary portrait that explores the intersection of history, family, religion and the ways that these ideas form and shape the way that Lance, (and America) are responding to the present state of economic insecurity.

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