Mark Ruse. (Photo: Annie Beach)
Mark Ruse, who was partnered with Stephen Luby in Ruby Entertainment for 20 years, died unexpectedly on Saturday. He was 64.
In a career spanning more than 30 years, Ruse produced more than 250 hours of prime-time comedy and drama, more than 20 hours of documentaries and 300 hours of live television.
“Mark was a true gentleman; incredibly talented, understated and generous, he gave many lucky people a leg up in the industry,” Julie Marlow, screen industry consultant and former Film Victoria director, tells IF. “He was a joy to deal with and will be sadly missed by so many.”
Luby said of his colleague and close friend: “Mark was a man of incredible integrity, kindness, creativity, intelligence, dedication, work ethic, humour and goodness.
“His express philosophy was to ‘enable other people’s talents to shine.’ He loved to support and nurture people’s creative journeys (including mine).
“Producer skills developed since his formative years at Swinburne Film and Television School in the 1980s were distilled into an elixir of creative insight and a wise problem-solving capacity that I came to rely upon at every turn.
“He was equally at home providing incisive script feedback, negotiating a contract or doing a Producer Offset final return.”
Actress-writer Madeleine Dyer, who had been developing TV comedy Pacific Cove with Ruby Entertainment, producer Jason Byrne and fellow writers Daniel Mulvihill and Tony Rogers, said she was “absolutely gutted.” She praised Ruse as “so insightful, considered and gentle.”
Among his earliest credits, he produced 70 episodes of the comedy Fast Forward plus Full Frontal and Tonight Live for Artist Services.
That was followed by the sitcom The Adventures of Lano and Woodley for the UK’s Working Title, the BBC and ABC, the first two series of Kath & Kim and co-executive producer of ABC-TV’s The Games.
Ruby Entertainment’s most acclaimed drama is The Secret River, the ABC miniseries directed by Daina Reid, adapted from the Kate Grenville novel.
Starring Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Sarah Snook, Lachy Hulme and Tim Minchin, it won the AWGIE for best miniseries screenplay for Jan Sardi, Mac Gudgeon and Grenville, and was nominated for eight AACTA Awards.
Their ABC drama Bed of Roses, which ran for three seasons, saw them receive the Screen Producers of Australia’s producer of the year award.
Their feature film credits include Paul Moloney’s Crackerjack, the comedy starring and written by Mick Molloy, which was the highest grossing Australian film of 2002, and Tony Martin’s Bad Eggs.
Last year Ruby Entertainment and Robot Army produced the second season of Rostered On, the Ryan Chamley-created comedy starring Christiaan Van Vuuren, Bob Franklin and Nick Boshier, for the Seven Network’s 7Mate.
Ruby also made Internment, an online web series created by and starring Pippa Mills and Helena Ruse, Mark’s daughter, a twisted exploration of the world of internships.
His final project with Luby, The Hunt: In Search of Australia’s Big Cats, an hour-long doc which follows people who search for Australia’s wild big cats, premiered last week on Discovery.
Survivors include his wife Celine and children James, Jesse, Helena and Sean.
Luby concluded: “Mark Ruse gave me, and so many others, so much of himself. His passing is such a great loss to the Australian screen industry, to his friends and colleagues, and to his wife Celine and their four children and extended family.
“But Mark’s spirit and legacy will continue to permeate and inspire all of our lives and will never be forgotten.”