My Father, The Idealist

This photo is my favourite shot of me and my Dad, sitting on his shoulders, my chin resting on his thinning hair. I'm seven years old. It was taken in Ocracoke, North Carolina, where Mom, my brothers and I enjoyed a summer of endless beaches and sunshine while Dad made a film about the Outer Banks.

Dad worked with passion. He believed deeply, intrinsically and perhaps naively in the transformative power of film. He wasn't a religious man, but his sense of public duty gave him the moral imperative to put his beliefs into action, despite great challenges. His career spanned fifty years of documentary filmmaking — from documentary's pioneer days with John Grierson and the NFB, through to the 1980's and the evolution of global mass communications.

Dad's films were functional and clearly structured. They were designed to educate their intended viewers about specific subjects of the day. He believed that an educated mind was the most powerful tool for self empowerment and societal change.

As a teacher Dad empowered thousands of his students to become passionate filmmakers. Described as a 'Zen Master', his encyclopedic knowledge of and enthusiasm for film was infectious. To the end he believed that media, when used responsibly, was a positive and valuable tool for change.