Canadian TV director and cameraman John Driftmier, known for shooting TV documentary shows in extreme conditions — from the frigid Arctic in winter to sweltering jungles in tropical hotspots — has died at the age of 30.
He died in Kenya on Sunday after his small plane crashed during a morning location shoot, Montreal production company Pixcom announced. The crash also killed the pilot of the craft.
Calgary-born, Ottawa-based Driftmier had been shooting footage for the Discovery Canada doc series Dangerous Flights, which follows ferry pilots responsible for delivering small, private planes to customers around the globe.
"The thing that's the hardest for me is: I didn't see him as a son-in-law. I saw him as a son and a very valuable member of the family," Les Allen, Driftmier's father-in-law, told CBC News from the filmmaker's Ottawa home on Monday.
"He's touched people all over the world," Allen added. "That's the tragedy of it all. His career was just on an upward curve. He had irons in the fire."
Driftmier had been slated to return on Monday, after having completed a three-week shoot for the second season of Dangerous Flights.
"John was a director of exceptional talent and a wonderful cameraman. He was a friend to all. He will be greatly missed," Pixcom CEO Jacquelin Bouchard said in a statement.
"Our thoughts are with his family and friends."
In addition to travelling to more than 30 countries for Dangerous Flights, Driftmier had also shot other Discovery Channel shows such as Highway Thru Hell and Licence to Drill. He also filmed two seasons of History Television's Ice Pilots NWT. His directing credits include shows like Monster Moves, All For Nothing and Heavy Haulers.
"This is a day of great sadness for us all. The Canadian production community lost a brilliant boy who had the promise of a great future. His many talents will be missed," Paul Lewis, president of Discovery Canada, said in a statement.
"We offer our deepest sympathies to his wife, his parents, his friends and co-workers."
Funeral services are being planned for Vancouver (the former Simon Fraser University film student started his career in B.C.), Calgary and Ottawa.
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