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article imageCanadian film producer Jake Eberts dead at 71

By Richard Mccallum     Sep 13, 2012 in Entertainment
Montreal - Yesterday Hollywood and the world lost one of its most respected and acclaimed executives when it was announced that producer Jake Eberts died from liver cancer at the age of 71.
Eberts began his early career as a chemical engineer.
He attended high school at Bishop's College School in Lennoxville Quebec and later took chemical engineering courses at McGill University and went on to earn an MBA from Harvard University.
In his 20's he put aside his engineering career to begin a new incarnation as an investment broker on Wall Street. Eventually moving to London young Eberts struggled to provide a living for his wife and family.
While in London Eberts was solicited by another banker to raise financing for the popular
Richard Adams novel Watership Down. It was with that production that Eberts had finally found his niche as as an "accidental" film producer.
"Without bringing any sense of self modesty, I just wasn't any good at the other things I tried."
Eberts opined during an interview with the Montreal Gazette.
By 1977 he had turned exclusively to film financing as his banking ventures of choice and it was in that year that he joined forces with David Puttnam to create Goldcrest Films
Watership Down was a huge hit, but Eberts made a crucial mistake when he used almost a million dollars to make a personal investment in a film that Goldcrest was producing at that time.
He did recover financially from that mistake but it was a serious distraction and a lesson hard earned that a producer is to never invest personally liquid assets into a speculative venture such as film production.
!977-83 was Goldcrest's most profitable 5 year span, and they became known as a quality production house with reputable financing sourcing and solid Oscar credentials, being nominated for 30 awards and receiving 15 for film such as The Dresser,The Howling, Local Hero, The Killing Fields, Ghandi and Chariots Of Fire.
Chariots of Fire & Ghandi won back to back Oscars in 1981 and 1982.
But big trouble for Goldcrest was fomenting in the pearl gray skies over London as Orwell's 1984 dawned upon an unsuspecting giant whose new moniker would become "The bigger they come the harder they fall".
The release of Julien Temple's "Absolute Beginners" ,"The Mission", and "Revolution" in 1985 /86 had virtually bankrupted the Goldcrest.
Ebert's wrote about the experience in My Indecision is Final which was chosen by "The Financial Times as one of its Business Books of the Year.
1985 saw Eberts move into independent productions opening up a Pathe affiliate with the moniker Allied Filmmakers.
While there he produced Name of The Rose (Annaud), Hope and Glory(Boorman),Driving Miss Daisy, Dances With Wolves(Costner), A River runs through it(Redford), The Adventures of Baron Non Munchousen ( Gilliam)
In the 90's Eberts became very involved in aboriginal culture and produced a troika of films with aboriginal and western themes. They were Black Robe(Beresford), The Education of Little Tree and Grey Owl(Attanborough).
In 1996 Eberts widened his production slate to include animated fare when he produced British author Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach., the results were lucrative to say the least. He went on to raise funds for The Nutcracker Prince,The Princess and the Cobbler,The Magic Roundabout, Doogal, Rennaissance ,and Chicken Run,
The 21 century saw Eberts taking the chair of CEO at National Geographic Feature Films in 2002. For them he produced; Two Brothers ( Annaud), Prisoner of Paradise, America's Heart and Soul, and huge megahit The March of the Penguins.
Mr Eberts was an Officer in the Order of Canada, and had been awarded two honorary doctorates from both McGill and Bishop's universities.
He also served on the board of the Sundance festival and Sundance channel.
Mr Eberts had been associated with 66 films garnering Oscar nominations, 9 of them for Best Picture.
March of the Penguins won the Academy Award for Best Documentary.
More about Jake Eberts, Dances with wolves, driving miss daisy, Liver cancer, Ghandi
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