Paul Pope, the Newfoundland-based producer behind TV series like Hudson & Rex and Life with Derek, and a passionate advocate for independent production, passed away Thursday morning. He was 63.
Over a four-decade career, Pope produced roughly two dozen films and series, under the banner of Pope Productions, including 2001 feature film, Rare Birds, starring William Hurt and 2016’s Hunting Pignut, with Taylor Hickson and Joel Thomas Hynes. He worked as a second unit director or assistant director on more than a dozen other projects, including The Shipping News (2001), and more recently CBC comedy/drama Little Dog (2018/19).
A founding member of the Newfoundland Filmmakers Cooperative (NIFCO), where he served as president for over 20 years, Pope was known as an industry advocate and mentor, passionate about independent production. Over the years, he served on the boards of the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), St. John’s Resource Centre for the Arts, and was Vice-Chair of the Canada Media Fund (CMF) from 2008-10.
In addition to numerous awards garnered by Pope Productions, Pope was personally recognized with the Arts Achievement Award from ArtsNL, the Douglas James Dales Industry Builder Award, and an honorary Doctorate from Memorial University. Last year, he received the City of St. John’s Legend Award for his contributions to the tourism sector through his work in film and television.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey and Min. of Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation Steve Crocker, called Pope “a pioneering filmmaker.”
“The loss of Paul Pope brings such tremendous sadness. He was a dynamic force in Newfoundland and Labrador’s film and television industry having produced or worked on hundreds of projects,” said Furey, in a statement. “His work showcased our beautiful province on the national and international stage, and helped bring visitors from all around to experience what we have to offer with their very own eyes. As we mourn this loss, we recognize the outstanding contributions Paul made to the film and television industry, and his contributions to our province and country. His legacy in this industry will live on for years to come, particularly as he spear-headed the recently announced Film and Media Production Centre at College of the North Atlantic. It was a pleasure working with Paul, and we will ensure his vision is realized as we continue to support the industry he loved.”
I am absolutely devastated by news of #PaulPope‘s sudden passing.
Paul was a pioneer, a driving force in our film and TV industry. With passion and energy, his work was inspiring and his legacy will live on.
My deepest condolences to Lisa and their family at this tragic time. pic.twitter.com/lRk2SNZ2TY
— Andrew Furey (@FureyAndrew) April 14, 2022
“In addition to his passion for film and television, Paul had a passion for Newfoundland and Labrador,” added Crocker. “He was an active member of the Come Home 2022 Host Committee and was the creative force behind some of the wonderful events that the residents of our province will enjoy in the months to come. He brought zest and energy to those meetings. He was positive, comical, passionate, and inspiring. Paul will be missed and remembered forever.”
— Rogers Sports & Media PR (@RogersMediaPR) April 14, 2022
I, along with every other Newfoundlander who plies their trade in film and television, owe a huge debt to Paul Pope. He gave me numerous breaks, advice and hand ups as a teenager. We last worked together on New Year’s Eve. Pioneer. Legend. Good guy.#Nifco #PopeSchoolOfFilm
— Rick Mercer (@rickmercer) April 14, 2022
Paul Pope’s Secret Nation was my 1st job as a film extra. His Anchor Zone was my first lead role in film. Many people got their 1st jobs in film & TV from Paul. Then their 2nd, 3rd & even 100th. Because of his work with CNA, many more will now learn the craft. RIP Paul Pope.
— Mark Critch (@markcritch) April 14, 2022
I loved every chance I had to work with Paul Pope. He had a dream of film in Newfoundland and his dreams have come true through TV shows, movies, and in the CNA film program in NL just announced today. I’m so sorry to hear we’ve lost him. I’m so grateful for what he gave us.
— Tom Power (@tompowercbc) April 14, 2022
Paul Pope is a legend. I am shocked to hear of his passing. My first gig with him was hosting NewYears in St. John’s for Y2K – the world was ending. We were the first to welcome the new Melenium to N America- the countdown clock was wrong the world was watching and Pope leans in
— Shaun Majumder (@shaunmajumder) April 14, 2022
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