Jim Tustian

I was born in Pincher Creek Alberta on August 1st, 1939. I have two sisters — Judy and Joy. My father, Brad Tustian was a railway telegrapher for the CPR. My Mother Maude, was certainly his partner in life, making the best of homes out of the many railway stations that we lived in throughout our family years in South Alberta. I had a dream upbringing while on the railroad. My toy trains were real honest-to-goodness steam engines that I was allowed to drive. My training as a projectionist was started when I was conscripted to run the projectors in the Railway Rules Instruction Car when it came to town.

I always had this dream of working in television so, I travelled to Lethbridge to visit CJLH-TV that had just gone on the air (1955). While there, I asked the technical director “how much would you pay me if I came to work for you?” He told me he’d give me $150.00 a month if I came in for the summer. I left home in Foremost, Alberta for Lethbridge in 1956 (during my summer vacation) to start a career at CJLH-TV. I had a great time, working with the likes of Bill Matheson and Al McCann. I returned to Foremost that fall to finish my grade twelve.

A local farmer-friend offered my parents whatever money they might need to put me through medical school following my high-schooling, but I had this dream of working in film and television. I was encouraged to do so, and moved to Calgary in the fall of 1957 to start work at Sharp’s Theatre Supplies. It was there that I commenced my film training in film — working on my theatre projectionist apprenticeship and doing basic motion-picture filming. But that wasn’t to last long. The magic of television was still in my blood so I got a job at CFCN-TV in Calgary. That was a career that ended fairly quickly. You see, you don’t last too long when you develop other interests that aren’t what you are actually hired for. Vice-President Gord Carter suggested I might be better off working somewhere other than CFCN and promised he wouldn’t fire me…. if I quit. The practice of loading the wrong programs on the wrong telecine projectors was rather frowned upon. Years later, I met Gord and we both agreed that it was the best thing that happened to me as I was able to move on to bigger things.

A variety of things came my way after CFCN. I went to work for the Film Patrol for a couple of years. We travelled to the various racetracks in Alberta, filming the races for inquiries, working alongside the RCMP. An extra stint was spent at a track in Ottawa before I came back home — unemployed. It was then that I got a letter from CFRN-TV offering me a studio camera job. After a couple of years in the studio, I was asked to move into the film editing department where I stayed until I left there in 1966. I went out on my own — setting up a film production business. I was hired under contract by ‘RN to shoot the station’s film commercials. I have been on my own ever since leaving CFRN. It gave me a very exciting life, meeting some interesting people and travelling to some exciting parts of North America. I was able to continue in television, freelance shooting for CBC, ITV, and ACCESS. But, that’s another story.

James (Jim) Bradford Tustian

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