1943 – 2009
It is with a heavy heart I mourn the loss of a wonderful friend and one of the true pioneers of Steadicam. For those of you who did not know Jeff Mart, he was one of the kindest and most wonderful people I have ever met, always ready to help with a smile and joke.
His talent with the ‘steadicam’ was unique and incredible – his stories and shots, like running up a pyramid with a tow rope,
Or hanging over the edge of a boat under a crane, having shoes with hooks in the end so he could climb up chain link fences, or his bike, with 1 handle bar, that he would ride for chase scenes. Or whenever he had the chance…
Then there’s my favorite, putting a 12 step ladder on the end of a tulip crane that was on a ship at sea, then climbing down the ladder and doing a step off ending with the camera underwater in a pool at the end.
Hard to imagine for mere mortals like myself.
Jeff was a true pioneer of all things Steadicam, he was the first person in the world to privately own a Steadicam system, and he was also the first person in the world to own the MK-V AR system. Jeff heard about it and asked to see some photos and he ordered one from me a full year before it was even shown.
His passion for all things Steadicam was amazing and infectious – Jeff worked with me on my stands for the last 6 years and we had the best times. Always smiling and helpful.
I got to spend some real time with him this year, at NAB and Cinegear, he was a true friend and gentleman.
We were going to do a film together soon, but sadly this will never be….
One of his favorite things was to ‘fly’ on the Strada crane, he said it made him feel like Peter Pan – And I think this is very true of Jeff, he is the ‘boy’ (man) who never wanted to grow up…
Jeff, I miss you….
If anyone has any photos or stories of Jeff,
Please email them to me
Garrett Browns Tribue (from the Steadicam Forum)
I was in LA when I learned of the sad and untimely death of Jeff Mart, Steadicam pioneer and great-hearted friend, who inspired us all with his ingenuity and daring.
At Cinema Products in 1977, just after the release of the Model I, we were stunned to receive a 16mm print showing an apparent madman on a bicycle, operating Steadicam while bouncing down a steep alpine meadow! Plus the incredible footage from his CP-16!
It was Jeff, who chose that unforgettable way to introduce himself; and ever since, he has been the hardy’mountain man’ of Steadicam, meeting every challenge head-on and bringing off one impossible shot after another with heart-stopping panache.
Jeff tamed and mastered bike shots, for example, by simply cutting off one handlebar and became legendary around the campfires in Maine and Philadelphia for his canny solutions to Steadicam dilemmas like running up the steps of that bloody temple!
We all worried about him — I worried for years that he was too bold, too impulsive, too vulnerable to some bit of loose gravel or slippery handhold or stupid blunder by someone else. But I finally realized that though he was game for anything, he improved the odds with brilliant preparation, and his vitality and boldness always carried him through.
So it’s heartbreakingly unexpected to learn that Jeff died ‘off the clock’. Just slipped away from us, out of our sight and hearing, to his place in our small noble pantheon along with Teddy and Bob and Andy and a few cherished others.
Jeff, I deeply regret not having a chance to tell you how much you have meant to me and to all of us over these many years.
Here’s to you great friend. We’ll raise a glass in your honor as long as these stories are told.