Paul Pope, pillar of the NL film industry, dies

Paul Pope has produced or worked on hundreds of films and series. (CBC)

Paul Pope, a well-known producer and driving force of the Newfoundland and Labrador film industry for more than 40 years, has died.

Pope, who has worked on hundreds of films and shows, owned Pope Productions, the company behind productions such as Hudson & Rex, Growing up Cinema, Rare Birdsand Life with Derek among many others.

According to a post on Pope’s Facebook page, he died peacefully on Thursday morning surrounded by his family.

“His kindness and devotion will be lacking,” the post said.

He has been an advocate for the independent Canadian media and has served as a founding member of the Newfoundland Filmmakers Cooperative as well as a board member of the Canadian Media Producers Association and vice president of the Canadian Media Fund.

Pope has received numerous awards, including the ArtsNL Art Achievement Award, the St. Louis Tourism Award. John’s 2020 and honorary doctorate from Memorial University.

“St. John’s City Council is deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of Paul Pope, a dynamic force in the New Earth film and television industry,” a statement from St. John’s Town said Thursday.

“Paul’s influence on the national entertainment community is innumerable.”

As news of Pope’s death broke on Thursday, prominent members of the Newfoundland and Labrador film industries expressed their condolences and shared memories on social media.

A tireless advocate

Pope was still supporting the New Earth and Labrador film industry less than a week ago. on Friday, spoke to CBC News about the importance of the new film and television campus at the College of the North Atlantic for local productions.

“We need this kind of vocational training to ensure that we remain competitive in the national and international market,” he said.

Pope was deeply involved in the development of film and television in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Ted Dillon / CBC)

Pope was unable to attend an event on Wednesday to announce the campus, but those who spoke pointed to him as a key figure in its founding. Prime Minister Andrew Furey called Pope an “appendage” of the industry.

“You are truly one of the top drivers on this new campus and you really pioneered it,” he said. “Your successes speak for themselves, so this is a great moment for you, Paul, and we really want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

During the same event, Take the Shot Productions executive producer John Vatcher said that Pope was a colleague and friend of his, as well as a “beloved disruptor” who worked tirelessly behind the scenes on behalf of the film industry.

During the production of its 4th season Hudson & Rex Last fall, Pope thought about how the film and television industry has changed in recent decades.

“I remember celebrating our first year of production of half a million dollars. And after the 1990s we reached one million,” he said.

He said more people in Newfoundland and Labrador were choosing to join the industry he had been supporting for so long.

“There is a big explosion in Canada and we are kind of part of the explosion,” Pope said. “It’s a great place to shoot. People love the locations, they love being here. It takes a while to build an industry – and you know we’re not done yet.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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