About Jim McQuaid & Turnip Films

The short version: after teaching photography and the history of photography, I worked in high technology. In 1999 I began to make short films and I have been making short films and working on others' films ever since.

I'm here on IMDB here.

I grew up in Detroit. I made films in high school. Mostly 8mm and one 16mm. I wanted to go to film school but I got no support for figuring out the best way to do that.

At the University of Michigan I saw a lot of films, had fun, played bluegrass and got into photography. I took a detour into still photography for some years, learning the Zone System and figuring out how film (really, "film") responds to light and chemistry. Plus training the eye. I taught photography and the history of photography until I got thrown out of the academic world and had to get a "real job."

Luckily, I had learned how to read and write and I started my second career - in high tech - as a technical writer. My Father was an engineer (Ford Motor Company, 35 years) and I always enjoyed figuring out and then explaining how things work. I worked my way "up" from tech writing to product management with a step in-between doing PR and advertising stuff.

High tech can be a fun place and I do enjoy learning new things. When miniDV hit the world I decided to return to my love of film and began making short films and the mistakes necessary to learning. That was in 1999.

The Turnip?

Okay, so where does this "turnip" come from? Many years ago I co-authored and co/self-published a book about photography. One of my co-authors, Dave Tait, had this cute rubber stamp of a turnip. His father had been in Ag Extension (before PowerPoint) and used this and many other stamps to create diagrams, probably at the kitchen table of many farmers. We liked the look of it and decided the our project was kind of "underground" so we published the book as "Turnip Press." When it came time to brand my film and video work, the turnip was available.

The turnip has worn well. It's easy to spell, doesn't depend on my own name, isn't too high tech or high concept or high cost. It's kind of so uncool that it's cool. At least, that's my hope.