The International Community pays its respects to Jacques Monge

By Laurent Andrieux for the AFC

La Lettre AFC n°273

[ English ] [ français ]

Jacques’ friends who were also eminent Steadicam cameramen sent us warm messages. His friends Garrett Brown – the inventor of the Steadicam® –, Chris Fawcett, Dan Kneece, Ruben Sluijter, Alessandro Brambilla, as well as Jack Churchill (Ted Churchill’s brother), and, from France, Loïc Andrieu, Philippe Bordelais, and Jake Russell – a cameraman that Jacques trained over the last few years and who filmed Frédéric Ducomet-Boquier’s film Steadicam Paradox(e)– all paid tribute to a man who never stopped training, advising, and supporting Steadicam operators who are passionate about their profession, and who are today the world’s best in the field, including his own son, Valentin. Régis Prosper, of Cartoni France, the current importer of the Steadicam and an associate member of the AFC, also shared his memories with us.

Beyond simply training the next generation, Jacques also bequeathed his warmth, his ideal of the collective, his morals, his vast knowledge, his professional attitude, and the humour that characterized the Steadicam operator’s “style”, a profession which – in his opinion – Ted Churchill had invented.

- "Here’s to Jacques Monge - pioneer of our bold first generation, and stalwart of cinema for 36 years.
Rail-thin and intensely gallic, Jacques appeared at our Miami workshop in 1982 and has been a dear friend ever since.
I think of him alongside Ted and Floris and Mike Bartlett–a pantheon of madcap masters–in improvised drag in Munich, prancing tirelessly, dancing dangerously, swooping other people’s rigs within millimeters of disaster, then settling back into his Gauloises haze of enigmatic melancholy.
Farewell Jacques, you shot one of my favorite movies of all time (Cyrano), and will be profoundly missed ; especially so, as always, when a fellow pioneer passes along.
Adieu, mon ami.”
Garrett Brown, inventor of the Steadicam®, Philadelphia, USA

Garrett Brown massages Jacques Monge at the IBC, 2010 - ©Philippe Brelot
Garrett Brown massages Jacques Monge at the IBC, 2010
©Philippe Brelot

- “With his restless exuberance, his eagle eye, his feline grace, Jacques Monge was perhaps the living embodiment of Steadicam. He was the best of men, and we’ll miss him forever.”
Chris Fawcett, Steadicam cameraman

Jacques Monge et Chris Fawcett
Jacques Monge et Chris Fawcett

- “Jacques Monge and I met as Steadicam students December 17, 1982 in Miami, Florida at a Steadicam Workshop taking place at Image Devices.
Our instructors were Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown, Toby Phillips and Randy Nolen. Jacques and I became good friends during the workshop. Another of our fellow students was the late Steadicam Operator Bob Ulland.
After our week long workshop, Jacques went back to Paris, Bob stayed in Florida and I went back to South Carolina as we each began our Steadicam careers. All three of us did well thankfully.
I didn’t see Jacques again until the summer of 1997 at a Steadicam Masters workshop held at San Giorgio Maggiore monastery in Venice, Italy where Jacques, Garrett, Jerry Holway, Guy Bee and I got to hang out and compare Steadicam skills. It was a wonderful time. I thought of it again when I went back to stay at San Giorgio for a month in the summer of 2015. There were many happy memories then and many new ones as well. Very sad to hear Jacques is gone, but thankfully his work and memory will live on.”
Dan Kneece, Steadicam cameraman, cinematographer, producer, USA

- “I met Jacques Monge for the first time in Venice in 1997. Then, thanks to my friend Valentin, whom I see often whenever I am in Paris, I had the good fortune to meet him, to speak with him, and to directly experience his way of always simply being “himself” with everyone.
Often, he would joke and laugh at the fact that I was taller than him : “You’re too tall !” he would say. I always thought that this thin man, who always had a cigarette between his lips, was a very great gentleman. In fact, he was a giant, both in human and in professional terms, and I have the greatest respect for him. I can speak on behalf of many colleagues on this side of the Alps who also knew him and who join me in comforting Valentin and sending our friendship and our support. He will be missed, but certainly not forgotten.”
Alex Brambilla, Steadicam cameraman, Italy

Création de l'AFCS, juillet 2008 - Premier rang : Philippe Bordelais, Guillaume Quoilin, Alessandro Brambilla -<br class='manualbr' />Deuxième rang : Emmanuel Loiseaux, Yves Michaud, Bruno "Bozo" Vildé, Jean-Marc Bringuier, Mathieu Caudroy, Jacques Monge -<br class='manualbr' />Troisième rang : Nicolas Dollander, Thierry Thuilier, Kareem La Vaullée, Olivier Merckx, Rodolphe Lauga -<br class='manualbr' />Quatrième rang : Omar Elmontaser, Loïc Andrieu, Michel Rodas, Wilfried de Souza
Création de l’AFCS, juillet 2008
Premier rang : Philippe Bordelais, Guillaume Quoilin, Alessandro Brambilla - Deuxième rang : Emmanuel Loiseaux, Yves Michaud, Bruno "Bozo" Vildé, Jean-Marc Bringuier, Mathieu Caudroy, Jacques Monge - Troisième rang : Nicolas Dollander, Thierry Thuilier, Kareem La Vaullée, Olivier Merckx, Rodolphe Lauga - Quatrième rang : Omar Elmontaser, Loïc Andrieu, Michel Rodas, Wilfried de Souza

- “Only met Jacques once, with Ted. Jacques and Ted Churchill were the best of friends. Ted loved him.”
Jack Churchill, cinematographer, Ted Churchill’s twin brother, USA.

Jack Churchill, Aaton 16 à l'épaule, dans les rues de Grenoble (siège d'Aaton)
Jack Churchill, Aaton 16 à l’épaule, dans les rues de Grenoble (siège d’Aaton)
Ted Churchill, "inventeur du cadreur Steadicam"
Ted Churchill, "inventeur du cadreur Steadicam"

- “Alongside Jacques and other Steadicam operators, we fought for the recognition of our profession of Steadicam cameramen, and not just “Steadicam operators,” or “grip under the authority of the director of photography.” That is why, in 2008, Jacques and Valentin, Mathieu Caudroy, other greats of the profession and I, founded the AFCS, the French Association of Steadicam Cameramen and Camerawomen, in order to distinguish our profession from that of the traditional cameraman as defined in our profession’s collective bargaining agreement.
I was lucky to have been trained in the “Monge family”. Jacques would say, “you are Steadicam cameramen, you aren’t stealing work from other cameramen !” and we decided to specialize because it’s hard to be a good multi-instrumentalist, which pushes the profession to regard us as “pure” Steadicam operators.
Jacques Monge is an immense personality, he was one of the pioneers of the Steadicam in France in the early 1980s : L’Arbre, by Jacques Doillon (1982), followed by Three Men and a Cradle (1985), The Big Blue (1988), and then Nikita, Savage Nights, La Haine.
Losing Jacques means losing an ethics, a philosophy, an attention to detail, a word, a though, and a landmark.”
Loïc Andrieu, director, Steadicam cameraman

- “What sad news. Almost 30 years ago, Jacques was one of the charismatic people who made me want to become a Steadicam cameraman. A discussion with him was never trite, but always exceptional. His critical analyses were sometimes malicious, often politically motivated, but always impassioned and based on a vast cinematographic and technical knowledge. Jacques is part of our collective memory. He will not be forgotten !”
Philippe Bordelais, Steadicam cameraman

Ruben Sluijter, Philippe Bordelais, Kareem La Vaullée, Garrett Brown à l'IBC 2010 - ©Philippe Brelot
Ruben Sluijter, Philippe Bordelais, Kareem La Vaullée, Garrett Brown à l’IBC 2010
©Philippe Brelot

- “Our paths crossed just three years ago. At that time, I was a young man who was passionate about the Steadicam and Jacques quickly became my mentor. We developed an intense friendship, but unfortunately it was cut short.
Jacques supported me, mentored me, and encouraged me as I took my first steps with the Steadicam and the Steadicam Tango. His support led him to co-found Russell Stead, a company founded in June 2016, and of which he was the first President. I am far from being the first person he mentored, but I was probably the last ; his generosity and his passion were what he wanted to share and pass on to us.
Jacques, you saw Rear Window at the cinema when it was released in 1954 ; it was The Matrix for me when I was the same age. You left us too early. You will remain deeply present in my thoughts, my choices, and my ambitions. Thank you for everything…
I thank his partner and my friend Anouk who stayed with him until the end.
My thoughts go out to his family Jenny, Quentin, Valentin, Martin, Christine, Valérie, Silvia, Anouk, and his grandchildren.”
Jake Russell, Steadicam cameraman, France

- “I met Jacques when I became the importer of the Steadicam for the French market in 1997. He had already had a successful career. I spent several memorable moments with him, particularly when he attended the workshop I organized in Paris in 2005 with Garrett Brown, and at which Valentin was an instructor. Although we have few true friends in the profession, Valentin is one of them.
Of Jacques, I will always remember the intense discussions, the breadth of his vast knowledge, and how demanding he was as to the practice and teaching of the Steadicam. I have always tried to live up to his standards.
Despite how tired he felt, he came to greet me at the stabilization event I organized with Planning Camera at the end of October 2016. Losing him is a great loss for our profession.
Regis Prosper, Cartoni France

  • “La journée du steadicameur” directed by Lithana Rebelou, editing by Christine Keller, featuring Jacques Monge. Thanks to Garrett Brown for finding the document !

English translation by Alexander Baron-Raiffe.