We lost another great British Film Talent… Sparkie… MTB… Mark Talbot-Butler

When I reflect on any significant relationship in my life, that person has often gifted me something.

Mark Talbot-Butler, who I just found out died last night, gave me the gift of rigorously high standards.

Mark was best known for being a film editor, something I experienced first hand with him more than once. I have known Mark for the majority of my life and his influence on me personally, cannot be underestimated.

We live our lives in eras, or seasons.

MTB as we all knew him then (others later knew him as Sparkie), showed up first when I was probably around 15, at a film and TV geek shop in Manchester called Odyssey Seven. Only four weeks ago we were chatting about this on FB. At the time he was just a guy in the shop, but without doubt the skinniest guy I had ever seen, and one with a slightly maniacal glint in his eye.

Cut to five years later and Bournemouth Film School where I had managed to blag myself a place.

Mark was the year above me and we quickly became friends, bonding over Aliens, Jaws and so many other movies. We worked on many projects together and that’s where I began to learn about high technical standards from him. I was his assistant editor on a major project and learned so much.

He was no easy going task master too, often rude, aggressive and dominating.  

Soon after film school he ended up working on our first feature film together, The Runner. A film that became iconic through The Guerilla Filmmakers Handbook, and a baptism of fire for all involved.

This era of my life was a crucible of fire.

At 21, I was learning more every single day than I would in a year later in my life. And Mark was right there next to me. He wrote the script (The Runner Shooting Script) as we needed one. He edited the film as he alone had the skillset. He operated camera as dammit, he just loved it.

We were all way out of our depth and loving every second of it.

One enduring memory was kitting up for a flight in RAF choppers, wearing the full kit and walking along the tarmac… me, Mark, Gen and Jon Walker, in what felt like slow motion.

Mark and I exchanged words and laughs… It was genuinely a dream come true to be loading a camera into a chopper, knowing that in a moment we would be hanging out and shooting shots for the film. This is all before health and safety of course.

That film experience was the best of times, and of course, the worst.

Mark had his demons too, and he grappled with them even more through the nineties and noughties. I saw it up close and personal more than once and it was tough to see it.

And then a miracle happened. Tanya.

Tanya, Marks wonderful wife, was the anchor he needed in his turbulent seas.

That tough, aggressive, combative and sometimes downright rude edge was softened and the Mark we all loved, began to sparkle once more. At his wedding he was a transformed man, and more recently, he moved out of his flat in Foley street in Soho, and into the country. Something the old Mark would have never, and I mean, NEVER have done.

I am not sure I knew anyone with a greater depth of knowledge and deep passion about film as Mark.

As much as I often wanted to punch him, I also loved him dearly and I learned soooooo much from him.

And so Mark, I will choose to remember that moment, flying above the sea around Anglesey, all kitted up in flight gear, pilots helmet on, visor down, Arri BL2 S16 camera on the shoulder, sitting on the edge of an open door in the Sikorsky Sea King chopper, banking steeply and looking at each other… your face with the widest grin I had ever seen. We weren’t just making a movie. We are in a movie. In that moment, we WERE the movie. Magic and magic shared.  

I hope you took that same chopper flight as you left this world. It was the best.  

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones
My movies www.LivingSpiritGroup.com
My Facebook www.Facebook.com/ChrisJonesFilmmaker
My Twitter @LivingSpiritPix



8 Responses to We lost another great British Film Talent… Sparkie… MTB… Mark Talbot-Butler

  1. Dean Preston December 31, 2020 at 10:39 am #

    Nice tribute Chris ! I’m going to miss my Brother Mark !! 2020 has certainly been a shit year !!! RIP Mark xxxx

  2. Alan Miller December 31, 2020 at 6:44 pm #

    What an absolutely fabulous obit. Been editing for 36 years and I know how special colleagues can inspire… Reading this was a moving joy. Can I ask you for permission to publish it in the British Film Editor’s magazine, FIRST FRAME? I’ve been its editor for the last 12 issues (2 a year). If you let me, could I also ask you for any hi-res pix you have (with IDs so I know who’s who). Thank you. If you want to see examples of the magazine, please let me have your email address. Cheers, Alan

  3. Chris Jones January 4, 2021 at 3:31 pm #

    Of course @Alan, I have emialed you.

    • Norman Williams July 23, 2021 at 4:03 pm #

      Great piece… for some reason Mark came to my mind today. I really do not know why as I had no idea that he has passed until reading. I knew Mark not as well as many have described. I worked as a runner in Soho square back in the 90s. Out of all the clients that I crossed paths with, I have never forgotten him because of his kindness towards me. He was a cool dude.

      Thats the side of him I remember most.

      So sorry to hear he is gone.

  4. Dave Wilson January 10, 2021 at 7:32 pm #

    Wonderful! Great tribute. He could be a grumpy bastard but fuck he was talented and sharp as a tack. X

  5. David Rustage January 23, 2021 at 11:23 am #

    I used to work in Odyssey 7 and knew Mark quite well at the time. I’m really saddened to read of his death.
    Your obit really sums up the person I remember.
    Thank you for refreshing my memories of a really nice guy.

    • Chris Jones January 23, 2021 at 11:26 am #

      Thanks for your comment, yeah it was his funeral and send off yesterday and very emitional. I just posted on Facebook about it including a photo of Mark wearing an Odysey 7 T shirt! Mark in T Shirt

  6. Mike Talbot-Butler March 13, 2021 at 4:34 pm #

    Dear Alan,
    I am the father of Mark Talbot-Butler, about whom many kind words have been written since his death on December 30.
    My wife Winifred and I would greatly appreciate it if you could send us the relevant copy of your highly-reputed British Film Editor’s magazine which references Mark’s life and times.
    Give me your office address and I will see the cost is covered, plus extra.

    NOTE FROM CHRIS… Alan can you connect with me and I will send you the address?

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