100 Stories

Mark Wihak, B.F.A. (Regina), M.F.A. (Concordia)

Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Film, University of Regina

Mark Wihak

Mark did his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production as a Campion student. (As a grade nine student, he also attended the final semester of Campion H.S. before it closed.)

Freezing cold nights after Film 100, shivering out under the lamp light of the parking lot, hoping your car would start is the snapshot of how Mark remembers his first winter semester at Campion.

Conversely, Campion is a warm, cozy place to study film in its main floor lecture theatre and has also been known to host live entertainment as well. Mark remembers the night the 80s Montreal band, Deja Voodoo, played the Campion Student Commons area:   “Gerard the guitar player was tall and skinny and dressed like an undertaker – his tie was a rubber bat; his guitar had 4-strings. Tony was shorter and solidly built. He played a small drum kit with no cymbals, and he had to borrow a chair to sit on at every venue. Their songs were muddy and thick, and often involved tales of zombies and werewolves. I believe the genre was known as ‘sludgeabilly’.” His girlfriend at the time Cari Schwartz, using 16mm film, was making a music video for them, allowing the couple a Back Stage Pass for a visit,  “We got to hang out with the band back stage and when they came on stage (really the floor, there was no stage), the audience reacted as if they were the Rolling Stones.”

Mark feels his greatest accomplishment to date was being able to convince Wanda Schmöckel to marry him. They succeeded while on a work trip in Paris amidst a tangle of red tape with French bureaucrats.

Mark is proud to have been part of the group that helped save the Dunlop Art Gallery from being permanently closed. City councillors had vowed to close the books on not only the gallery but the Central Branch’s Prairie History Room. Their group, along with the Friends of the Public Library worked together and held strategy meetings, rallies and public protests. “We were able to put enough pressure on City Hall that the closures were stopped”. Following years of after-care, the Dunlop has enjoyed enough support to keep its doors open. “It was a real lesson for me in civic engagement,” says Mark. “It makes me so happy to see the thriving gallery that exists today – it’s one of Regina’s real treasures.”

These days Mark gives back by helping emerging filmmakers—sometimes reading scripts or writing letters of support—even if that support means that he step out in front of the camera as an extra. He confesses, “I had help when I was starting out, and now it’s my turn to do it.”