'Great friend, an incredible wit, a great mind': Remembering Mike Jones, film pioneer
Filmmaker and NIFCO co-founder, Jones died last week at 73
In his death, filmmaker and film industry pioneer Mike Jones, 73, leaves behind far more than a legacy of movies capturing Newfoundland's culture.
"I mean there may be those films, but they wouldn't be produced in Newfoundland. They'd be being produced elsewhere."
Jones is famous for establishing "the true independent co-op" known as NIFCO, the Newfoundland Independent Film Makers Co-Op, along with David Pope and John Doyle.
"It was the only way that a Newfoundland artistic community was going to make its own films with its own voice," said Riche.
The writer said their philosophy was to build the organization while preparing for the day when there was no more funding from bodies like the Canada Council, the CBC or National Film Board.
"So that we could always have a redoubt down there on King's Road [in St. John's], for Newfoundlanders to make Newfoundland films about Newfoundland stories."
Now, the province boasts a multimillion dollar film industry employing hundreds of people.
Riche said Jones was sought for his skill as a director of photography, when people were using actual film cameras, but also for "his energy and capacity to rally a team."
Capturing culture, capturing laughs
He also directed the first Newfoundland feature film in 1986, The Adventure of Faustus Bidgood, with his brother, comedian and actor Andy Jones.
Riche said The Adventure of Faustus Bidgood is "one of the most, if not the most important work of art, Newfoundland art," because of its lasting significance.
Here's a great pic of Mike and Andy Jones popping champagne at the 1986 premier of "The Adventure of Faustus Bidgood" at <a href="https://twitter.com/RCAatLSPUHall?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RCAatLSPUHall</a> Mike was a leading light in a burgeoning NL film community that also included siblings Andy & Cathy Jones, Bob Joy, Paul Pope and many others. <a href="https://t.co/uoLl0dGUkM">pic.twitter.com/uoLl0dGUkM</a>—@zachgoudie
"It busts national myths" and connects old Newfoundland of the Smallwood era to the next generation.
"Brilliant satire, moments of the film will be remembered forever.It's developed sort of catchphrases that are in the culture," Riche told CBC Radio One's On the Go.
"It was a monumental achievement."
The next feature film Jones made was Secret Nation, written by Riche.
Beyond his work, Jones is encapsulated in the memories of the many people who knew and loved him.
"A great friend, an incredible wit, a great mind, great conversationalist," said Riche, who sent the late drafts of every novel to Jones for notes.
"Long, long chats. Travelled all over making films.… A guy that made me laugh, I'm very much going to miss him," he said.
"He was a great friend."
With files from On the Go