James D. Deck
James David Deck passed away on Jan. 27, 2020, following an inspiring and life-affirming 10-year battle against cancer. A devoted father and husband, a great and cherished friend, a man of style and many talents — writer, director, actor, model, photographer, musician and teacher — Jim made the most of everything life offered and inspired those around him to do the same.
Growing up in Holton, Jim was the popular, notably handsome, star athlete in high school, playing basketball and tennis. But he was also interested in music and culture, particularly contemporary movies. It was here that his passion for film solidified into an ambition to direct.
In 1986, Jim moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream. Initially he broke into the business through production, working for the likes of Merchant-Ivory, Wes Craven, Oliver Stone, and then as the first assistant director on “The Usual Suspects.” In 1997 Jim wrote and directed his first movie, “Ravager.” Three more directing gigs followed — “Two Shades of Blue” in 1991, “Pendulum” in 2001 and “Silent Partner” in 2005 — before his experience shooting in Moscow landed him a job running Sony Pictures’ local filmmaking initiative for Russia and Eastern Europe. Later, Jim moved to Fox where he oversaw movie production in China, India and Japan.
Then in 2015, Jim was introduced to the Dodge College of Film at Chapman University and he embraced a new career, teaching filmmaking to undergraduates. Jim was a uniquely gifted professor, sharing both his filmmaking passion and knowledge. Teaching proved to be the culmination of his life’s work.
Jim will be remembered by his family, his friends, his colleagues and his students as that rare individual who never held back from life, who gave wholly of himself, not because he expected some recognition or glory, but because he was made that way: curious, adventurous, irreverent, passionate, compassionate. Jim is survived by his sister Mary of Columbia, Mo.; and his wife Kim and their two children, Siena and Julian.
A memorial service was held in his honor at Harmony Gold Theater on Sunday, March 1. Mercer Funeral Home will assist the family this spring for a gathering in Holton.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to a memorial scholarship fund in Jim’s honor at www.chapman.edu/dodge/support-dodge/index.aspx