Ron Small

The makings of “Mark – A Call to Action” began in August of 1978 when I met Paul Bookman (obviously not yet Dr. Bookman) on Day 1 of Tulane University in New Orleans.  It is Paul I blame…I mean credit for helping me choose a Major in Anthropology.  I had taken so much advanced Science in high school that I was happy to hear this social science was a great path to medical school, outside of the traditional Biology or Chemistry.  That is, presuming I had the grades and study habits to back up that goal.  Fortunately, I did not, and my true passion in the creative arts was born, but not without some harsh realizations.  By the time Tulane and I understood I was not going to med school (they knew before I did) I was far enough along in my Anthropology studies that there was no turning back.  I remember one day getting a phone call (long before caller ID) so I simply answered it.  With the feeling of an “ice water enema” I quickly discovered it was my father, who at the time owned a very successful medical manufacturing business.  He had the following words of encouragement as you can read in the actual transcript of our call.

Me:  Hello?

Dad:  It’s your father.  Just letting you know we’re hiring a lot of Anthropologists in the office this year.  Okay, bye.

This was the beginning of the end of our relationship, but it actually set me on the path to becoming a player in the video production business.  Unlike Paul who was laser-focused on a Dental career before he even arrived at school, it took me several years and lots of trial and error before I found my calling.  And what a joy it’s been on so many levels.  Mixed in with lots of angst, of course.  And many years later, when I reflected on many of my documentaries that focused on people, communities and traditions, it hit me that all of this fell under the umbrella of my Anthropology degree.   

If we fast forward to 2021, I am at this point firmly ensconced in the documentary business and fortunate to produce programs that often appeal to my personal avenues of interest, as well as documentaries that highlight and expose common good.  Such is the case with “Mark – A Call to Action.”

After Mark was born prematurely in 1991, the details of which are laid out passionately in the documentary by both Paul and Mark, I was obviously aware of the challenges faced by his parents, but it was years later when the idea for a documentary about Mark and his breathtaking body of work came to be.  Though the whole story is a true emotional roller coaster and one where you may often times raise your hands to the heavens and ask, “Lord, how much more must you heap on the shoulders of these parents,” it was not until I saw a post on Paul’s Facebook page with a picture of Mark in honor of his birthday, that it hit me.  This was a project that needed to be produced.  The picture was almost regal.  Mark in his wheelchair in a ¾ perspective, sitting up very straight, wearing a suit and tie, with that famed Mark Bookman smirk.  How could I have missed what should be the greatest story ever told?  I immediately called Paul to broach the subject and within hours he reached out to Mark in Tokyo to get his blessing and start the process.  What followed were weekly Zoom calls for the better part of a year, discussing every angle of what is now titled “Mark – A Call to Action.”

Ron Small

Rather Large Productions, LLC