is with profound sadness that we share the news that illustrious
producer, distributor, industry leader, and GSCA board member Jonathan
Barker passed away, surrounded by family and friends, the morning of
July 5 from cancer.
was the CEO of SK Films, which he founded 20 years ago with his wife
Wendy MacKeigan and Bob Kerr, co-founder of IMAX Corporation. Under his
leadership, SK established a presence as one of the stalwarts of the
industry, recognized with multiple GSCA awards.
over three decades of award-winning film and television experience, he
was a world leader in 3D film production and distribution, specializing
in IMAX®/giant screen films that combine human drama and natural history
discoveries. Jonathan produced and/or distributed a wide array of some
of the industry’s most significant films in the past two decades. Titles
include Into the Deep; Oscar shortlisted film Bugs!; Flight of the Butterflies,
which achieved the only ever clean sweep of the GSCA Awards, won Best
Immersive 3D/Large Format Film at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film
Festival, and is one of the most successful and acclaimed giant screen
films of this decade; the award-winning Amazon Adventure; Backyard Wilderness; and the upcoming films Turtle Odyssey and Volcanoes.
these projects Jonathan and Wendy worked successfully with some of the
most important and recognizable organizations dedicated to science
literacy and understanding the natural world, such as Tangled Bank
Studios (a division of The Howard Hughes Medical Institute), the U.S.
Government’s National Science Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore
Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution. Jonathan was also Executive
Producer of SK’s award-winning eco-adventure series The Water Brothers,
produced with and hosted by his two sons, Alex and Tyler, both
dedicated environmentalists, which is broadcast around the world.
former actor, theatre producer, lead singer of an R & B band,
entertainment lawyer, multi-lingual, an accomplished government and
corporate film executive turned independent producer, Jonathan brought a
broad perspective and great passion to his work and to all things—his
love for Wendy and his children, for the giant screen industry, for
great natural history filmmaking and, in his case, with the twist of
including onscreen drama into the storylines.
loved spending time in the outdoors, at his beloved Georgian Bay island
cottage, scuba diving with family around the world, music, reading, and
playing the guitar with his daughter Caleigh and friends and family.
was President and Co-CEO of Shaftesbury Films for over 12 years, where
he was jointly responsible for the company’s phenomenal transformation
and growth from a small feature film company into one of Canada’s
leading and most successful television production companies.
to creating SK Films, Jonathan began his passion for giant screen films
during his tenure running the worldwide film business at IMAX, where he
developed the blockbuster IMAX 3D film T-Rex, oversaw the production and distribution of a number of the IMAX space films, David Attenborough’s Survival Island, and the hugely successful 3D film Into the Deep.
was previously Senior Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs for
Cinexus Group (owners of Panavision Canada and C/FP) and CEO of the
Ontario Film Development Corporation (now OMDC). He began his career as
an entertainment lawyer and as a member of the bars of Ontario and
California. He served on numerous boards and advisory committees, was a
Director of Film Ontario, and was a founding Director of the Giant
Screen Cinema Association.
is survived by his wife Wendy MacKeigan and children Scotty, Georgia,
Tyler, Alex, and Caleigh. The family will hold a private service. There
will be a public Celebration of Life, with details to be announced soon.
would like to offer the giant screen community the opportunity to share
their memories of Jonathan, anecdotes, photos, tributes, reactions
people have had to his films, etc. We will compile these memories and
share them with the community and also create a book that someday his
grandchildren can enjoy and know the lifelong impact he has had. Please
send your tributes and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations can be made in Jonathan's honor to Georgian Bay Forever.
highlight of the legendary Distributor Party, long an annual tradition
at the GSCA conference, was a set featuring the GSCA Band. Led by the
inimitable “Curtis,” aka Jonathan Barker, and comprised of the rock star
alter egos of other talented GSCA members, the band’s exuberant
performances got even the most reluctant dancers up on their feet. We
share with you a video, captured by James Neihouse, of the band’s
performance of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” at the
2013 conference in Ottawa: https://bit.ly/2lVbN42