How does someone get in the movie business? The classic way is to go to Film School at USC or UCLA and then pay your dues, working your way up the ladder.
But that’s not the way it worked with Mark Wade Stone. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, thousands of miles from Hollywood. He graduated from high school in Grand Rapids and got his BA in American Studies from St. Cloud University in 1976, where he was the student union film chair and proctored a couple of film classes after graduation.
Then he spent two years employed sewing 18-wheeler truck tarpaulins, what he calls “a classic just-outta-college story.” He worked at a number of historic sites, including the boyhood home of Charles A. Lindbergh, and wrote and photographed for a small county newspaper. Prior to founding a small video production company, he started the public access TV station in Little Falls, MN. After that he began Omni Video Productions and that was the inception of his since then-unending immersion in the film business.
Starting at the bottom, he videotaped more than 200 weddings, and started making short films for profits and non-profits. The Lindbergh family foundation sent him to Kenya to document a school they established, and upon his return he was asked by the PBS affiliate in St. Paul to create a news segment about the trip for broadcast. That was a huge break and he continued contracting for news segments along with other Omni business.
In 1995 St. Paul sent him to Cleveland to cover the newly-opened Rock Hall to see how Minnesotan Bob Dylan was portrayed. Viewing Cleveland as a fertile field, he moved there the next year, working for the Cleveland PBS affiliate, contracting for rather large jobs, and then got hired full time in 2000 for several years as a segment producer. He then left to form Storytellers/StoryWorks TV where he became affiliated with true crime author James Jessen Badal. Badal’s books and Mark’s films made for great partners, and they’ve worked together ever since.
All regional Emmy recipients or nominees, Mark’s True Crime Cleveland is a triple feature of three of his films with a total runtime of 120 minutes, The Fourteenth Victim: Eliot Ness & the Torso Murders, Doris O’Donnell’s Cleveland: The Day Marilyn Died, and Dusk & Shadow: The Mystery of Beverly Potts.
The first of three films shows how a twisted master criminal known as The Butcher of Kingsbury Run, who left thirteen disarticulated bodies in his wake, shattered the pristine reputation of Eliot Ness of The Untouchables fame. The second delves into how 10 year old Beverly Potts walked from her home one Friday night in August 1951 and into Cleveland mythology. She and her friend Patsy couldn’t wait to see the Showagon performance just a couple blocks away at Halloran Park, but Patsy came home by herself that night – as if Beverly had disappeared into a mist. The third tells the infamous story of Bay Village osteopath Sam Sheppard who told a wild tale about the savage bludgeoning of his wife, Marilyn, on the Fourth of July, 1954. But none of the evidence collected in the first few days pointed to anyone else but Sam.
True Crime Cleveland can be seen at the Laemmle NoHo on Monday, April 28, at 7:30.