Former Moose Javian Murray Ord honoured with award
Film producer Murray Ord, born and raised in Moose Jaw, played an instrumental role in bringing Brokeback Mountain and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford to Alberta.
© Russell Moore Images
Alberta-based film producer Murray Ord was born and raised in Moose Jaw. He is receiving the David Billington award for his achievements over 35 years of acting, producing, financing and developing films.
“We were partners with a major company on those movies. … That was their project, and they were looking for a place to make it,” Ord told the Times-Herald. “We stepped in and were able to facilitate the Alberta film incentive.”
But those films comprise just a small portion of Ord’s 35 years in the industry, which includes work as an actor, developer, financier and producer — a lifetime of effort now being recognized with the Alberta Media Production Industries Association’s (AMPIA) David Billington Award.
He said being recognized by the award, which is in its 25th year, “is both a surprise and an honour.”
“The reality is, (the past recipients) are all certainly either giants, legends, or wonderful contributors to the Alberta film industry over many years,” he added.
Ord highlighted a number of names on the list of previous recipients: Les Kimber, “who was a big influence on my life and career”; Tom Jackson, the well-known actor; and Sean Johnston, a star of the TV series Heartland.
He said he was initially reluctant to accept the award, because he was concerned it might be a sign he was being “put out to pasture,” but the assurances of Bill Evans, AMPIA’s executive director, changed his mind.
It was a notable achievement for a man who grew up in the Friendly City, where Ord was first bit by the theatre bug.
“I attended Central Collegiate. I graduated from there … I have really fond memories of growing up in Moose Jaw,” he said.
Ord said he studied drama in Grade 9, followed by a drama camp in Fort Qu’Appelle, and it was the experiences between the two “that really turned me on to live theatre and acting.”
When he graduated from high school, he pursued theatre at the University of Saskatchewan, but “didn’t like it that much.”
Following a brief period studying education with the University of Calgary, Ord changed his major again — back to theatre, and at the same school.
“I enrolled in the theatre department, and the rest is pretty much just history. I just soaked it all up, got roles in shows, loved studying in the theatre and lived there, pretty much,” he said.
After graduation, Ord joined a touring improvisational theatre company for two years before returning to Calgary and auditioning for theatre projects. Some time later, he auditioned and was cast to work on Buffalo Bill and the Indians alongside Paul Newman.
It was a minor role, but it set Ord’s sight on film and television, where he would make the rest of his career.
His work in Alberta has “contributed to the growing industry,” which he said he considers a point of pride.
Ord said he is very open to bringing work to Saskatchewan, as well.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I just haven’t had the opportunity. (But) I still entertain that thought.
“I love Saskatchewan, and I’m very connected to the prairies. I have great memories and there were great smells, like the smell of the harvest,” said Ord.
“And the sunsets were fantastic.”