Jan Preston’s aunt, Mag Preston, for many years earned her living playing for the silent movies
at a cinema in the far south of the South Island of NZ.
Her father, Ed, had a passion for Buster Keaton and, although the family of 13 were
very poor he could manage to sneak into the silent movie screenings by carrying his older
sister’s case of sheet music.
When Jan was a child, her father did perfect Buster Keaton impersonations for her, and it
was not surprising that years later she became interested in silent movie accompaniments.
In 1989 Jan was asked to compose and perform music for the iconic German silent classic, Fritz Laing’s The Spy,
which was ultimately recorded for the Australian National Film and Sound Archive and broadcasted in it’s entirety on
Jan went on to compose more silent classics (see list below) and these performances combine her composers’
sense of filmic dramaturgy, together with her marathon skills as a live piano player.
No wonder Jane Campion employed Jan as her piano teacher in the lead up to the making of the film, The Piano!
SILENT FILM/LIVE MUSIC COMPOSITIONS:
2011 The Kid Stakes Woodford Folk Festival
2011 The Kid Stakes Pics and Flicks Kiama Jazz Festival
2010 The Wizard of Oz Sydney Opera House
2010 The American Collection NFSA Canberra
2010 The Wizard of Oz Arc Cinema Canberra
2009 The Kid Stakes Adelaide Fringe Festival.
2006 Harold Lloyd’s Girl Shy. Sydney Film Festival (won the SFF audience vote for Most Popular Film 2006)
2005 Harry O. Hoyt’s The Lost World. NZ Film Festival
2005 Erich von Stroheim’s The Merry Widow. Sydney Film Festival
2001 Harry O. Hoyt’s The Lost World. Sydney Film Festival
2000 William Wyler’s The Shakedown. Sydney Film Festival
1995 Franklyn Barrett’s Girl Of The Bush. Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney for Historic Houses Trust of NSW
1995 Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail. The Mandarin Club, Sydney
1995 Yakov Protazanov’s Aelita. Chauvel Cinema, Sydney
1994 Alexander Granovsky’s Jewish Luck. Jewish Film Festival, Melbourne
1993 Early Australian Ads. MCA, Sydney
1993 Raymond Longford’s On Our Selection. MCA, Sydney
1991 Ernst Lubitz’s So This is Paris. Sydney Film Festival
1990 Fritz Laing’s The Spy. Chauvel Cinema, Sydney