More funding needed for documentary on late fiddler

 

Keith MacNeill is producing a documentary on the life and legacy of renowned fiddler Kole Crook, who died in a plane accident at the age of 27 in 2001. photo courtesy of Keith MacNeill

Keith MacNeill is producing a documentary on the life and legacy of renowned fiddler Kole Crook, who died in a plane accident at the age of 27 in 2001.
photo courtesy of Keith MacNeill

A documentary film three years in the making on the late Kole Crook still needs more footage and funding to complete, according to one of its producers.

Keith MacNeill of Yellowknife, whose production company Dry Cold Media is making the film, said he is about one-third of the way through shooting.

MacNeill has obtained a development agreement with CBC television, funding from the NWT Arts Council and some private donations, but still needs to land a “big funding fish.”

The idea for the project initially came from his production partner, Bob Ellison, who used to travel around the NWT as a producer for a television series called ‘Our Dene Elders’.

One day he was in Fort Providence at the community centre and there were people playing the fiddle,” MacNeill said of Ellison. “That’s where he learned about the Kole Crook Fiddle Association. We both had heard about Kole from his accident, but what Bob discovered was that, as he continued to travel through these northern communities, there were a lot of people who had been touched in some way or another by Kole. He made a difference in a lot of people’s lives.”

That’s when Ellison and MacNeill realized there was enough material out there to produce a documentary on Crook’s life and legacy. Since then, the duo has been gathering footage, pictures and stories from northern communities.

They were in Hay River a little more than a year ago to speak to Crook’s relatives and friends.

Crook died tragically at the age of 27 on New Year’s Eve 2001 when the Cessna 172 in which he was a passenger crashed 50 km south of Fort Good Hope.

In a Jan. 7, 2002, article in News/North, Crook’s uncle Darm Crook described his nephew as the type of person who would make sure audiences always had the best time.

That meant he didn’t always play by the rules,” he said, referring to a competition in which Crook had veered off a strict format for the sake of entertainment.

MacNeill said he has been touched by the number of e-mails and testimonies from people whose lives were changed by Crook.

People say they were depressed, they weren’t working, they were drinking too much and they met this guy who made an instant impression on them,” MacNeill said. “He was a guy who would go into communities, introduce himself and ask if there was anything he could help with. He was a very spiritual person who had a lot of respect for tradition and elders. Twelve years after his passing, his legacy lives on through the fiddle association and all these stories we hear about him. It shows how much of an influence he still has.”

MacNeill said Ellison is currently in Inuvik gathering more footage and the team will soon renew their proposal for funding and a broadcast license, but cannot predict how long it will take to complete the film.