The Mark of Excellence

Filmer, the filmer, at the Copper Canyon

Filmer, the filmer, at the Copper Canyon

I don’t hang out much on Facebook but this weekend an old tv colleague posted a bunch of archival photos that sure took me back. Television is a very tenuous business. People come and go from your working life like leaves in the wind. The good ones stick…the others you simply have to let go.

So the Facebook collection prompted me to pop in an old dvd of a special I did in 1998. It was a one-hour documentary, produced aboard my own boat, about sailing from Vancouver, north, to Desolation Sound.

Bound for the Sound

Bound for the Sound

You know, I’m a sentimental soul. The images of the old boat (long since sold) were lovely to look at and the scenery was (and still is) spectacular. But it was the memory of the guy who took all those pictures that really struck me hard. That cameraman, Mark Filmer, was a great good friend and colleague. Viewing the sailing special reminded me of how much he is missed.

We produced five documentaries and countless stories together. We were simply a good combination. I don’t really know why.

We made two trips to Mexico together….once, to some of the great Spanish colonial cities along the country’s spine and another time into the gaping maw that is Barranca del Cobre, the Copper Canyon. Mark was the rock. I was the wreck. I worried, he simply worked. We captured some incredible sights and made our way across Mexico via everything from dilapidated pickup trucks to donkeys. Mark was a sentimental guy as well….and a romantic. I watched him fall in love with a beautiful Mexican gal or two. Like the canyon, Mexican women have eyes into which you can truly tumble.

Our last documentary together was a trip to Newfoundland. We decided to profile one tiny, outport town…Brigus, on the southern shore of Conception Bay.  As usual, we had a fine time…or ‘foin toyme’, as Newfoundlanders would say.

But Mark never got to see that last show. He had lymphoma and knew that unless a bone marrow transplant went well, he wouldn’t be long for this world.

He didn’t make it. I dedicated that documentary to his memory…but it was damn small consolation.

I wish I could call him up and chew the fat. I wish we could have some laughs over a beer recalling all the misadventures. I’m not quite oblivious. I knew those were good days while I living them, I just didn’t realize they’d be among the best.

What was it my dad used to say? Too soon old, too late smart.


13 Responses to “The Mark of Excellence”

  1. Certainly agree with your Dad on that one, Dave! I enjoyed reading this, so sorry about your friend, sounds as though there was quite the bond there and understandably so. There have been a handful of people in my life who I would cherish to be able to sit down with and share a beer (or even coffee!) even just one more time. Out of curiosity, is it possible to view any of those documentaries anywhere? Just finished reading a book called “Born To Run”, all about a tribe of super-runners who inhabit the Copper Canyon, so it was kind of cool to see the pic of Mark, framed by the Copper Canyon, as well. Cheers!

    • Thanks Brian. Alas, these shows (of which there were 10!) are confined to my personal collection. I guess my children can take a look someday, if they’re ever trying to figure out what the hell the old man was doing! TV stations have changed hands/management/ownership so often that there’s no appetite (let alone an actual mechanism) for reviving old programming. Those super-runners of the Copper Canyon are the most extraordinary people.
      Some of the Tarahumara’s still live in caves..and seem quite content. Mark Filmer and I visited one man in his cave and I felt like I had stepped through a time portal. The world is a fascinating place.

  2. Eric Stansfield Says:

    Nice words Dave…reminds me of a couple of projects that I worked with Mark on…thank you for jogging the memory cells…all the best.

  3. Lymphoma…Yuck! Bin dare dun dat. Sorry your friend and work mate didn’t make it through. I like the work mates you have now though. Here’s to cheerier days ahead sir; the kind that make you say of them “those were the best of times”.

  4. Karen Deegan Says:

    I’m thinking the picture is of Dave? – I’ve been wrong before, taking a chance here – you guys may have looked similar? – just curious…

  5. Karen Deegan Says:

    Thank you Dave, great view of that canyon,still have to try & get there-the other shot is awesome-I can almost feel the swells of the water beneath you-thanks again Dave & best wishes for a great day, always

  6. Thanks Dave, I always enjoy reading your posts. Have you condsidered putting the series on youtube? Would love to see it!
    Until next time,
    Take care

    • Thanks Laurie,
      I don’t really know if I could put it on YouTube since I’m not certain who owns it. The station I was working for changed hands more often than your average banana republic over the years. No one would probably give a damn.

  7. Well that didn’t work, I meant to write: You Write Beautiful.

  8. Lester LIghtstone Says:

    Thanks for the memories Dave …. I miss Mark as well. Best to you for the Holidays! Les

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