James Fine 1954 – 2021

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

The Digital Signage and Digital Out-of-Home industry around the world will be saddened to hear of the recent passing of James Fine, president of Montreal-based, multi-award-winning, Telecine.

James’s death, after a short illness (non-Covid-related) was untimely and unexpected. One of the most talented, as well as kind, good-natured, men in the industry, he started his career as a wedding photographer, but by 1996, he was president of Telecine, providing customized solutions for all types of industries in Canada, the U.S., Europe, Asia and Africa.

One of his earliest award-winning projects was for Bloomberg’s Manhattan headquarters. He and his company went on to handle digital products of all types for media firms, banks, airports, and various companies worldwide, including in the U.K., Dubai and Nigeria. James was the main feature in our book ‘DOOH Insights, Volume 3’ after he became the second ever recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented at The DailyDOOH Gala Awards in December 2014.

He and his life partner for 30 years, Chantal Bilodeau – herself an accomplished interior designer – met as divers and in recent years, when possible, sailed the world in a yacht that was totally equipped for his work and in full contact with staff and clients. In Montreal, where they lived above the company offices, James and Chantal welcomed clients and friends from around the globe.

Learned and always learning, James developed and encouraged an accomplished, talented staff who will continue to run Telecine, his sister Debbie, told us. However, she said that it was up to Chantal – unavailable when we spoke – to tell us who will take over the role of president.

A special fund in Fine’s memory has been set up at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital, and contributions in his memory are welcome here.

Adrian Cotterill writes “If you want to put a smile on your face as you remember this extraordinary gentleman then have a look at ‘James Fine & Telecine Celebrate An Evening Of Friendship‘ and ‘A Mighty Fine Man‘”.

5 Responses to “James Fine 1954 – 2021”

  1. Michel BARONNIER Says:

    It is with great sadness that I learn of the passing of James Fine, founder of Téléciné in Montréal, one of my favourite referents in our market. In 2016, I had the opportunity to visit Téléciné, meet and discuss about the digital signage market with James, with all the intelligence, kindness and passion that characterized him. At the end of the dinner, he offered me the book he used to build his business: How to sell your ideas well. This book helped me to well develop TMM. My condolences to his family and my affection to all the Telecine team. God bless you James. Ton ami français

  2. Nikk Smith Says:

    Seemed like a really nice guy and a great presenter, too. What a shame. RIP.

  3. Damon Crowhurst Says:

    Every minute spent with James was a joy.
    He added significantly to this world in many good ways.
    Travel well sir.

  4. Peter Cherna Says:

    James was a real pioneer, always pushing what could be achieved with visual experiences. He was such a pleasure to work with and to be with, a true gentle giant. May his memory be a blessing.

  5. Peter Critchley Says:

    Many years ago, shortly after we started in 1998, I met James Fine at a Scala Partner conference. Right from the the first meeting, it was clear he was one of the few – a true visionary.

    Back in these early days of the digital signage industry, he had a simple and well-communicated understanding of what worked and why. He was able to lead his insanely creative team to develop completely new, and now often mimicked, content ideas. He worked tirelessly to build partnerships with his clients. He never ‘sold’ anything. They bought into him, and his creative genius, right front the start.

    As the industry developed, James was always there, calmly innovating, and more than that, generously sharing any and all of his ideas. He wanted the industry to grow for all the right reasons, and was determined to build a community. Telecine, under his careful and patient watch, developed into the leading digital signage agency globally across a number of vertical markets. You want something big and never before attempted? Go talk to James. You want something iconic on LED? Go talk to James. And he delivered every time. The projects delivered in the early years by Telecine are responsible for much of the credibility this industry now trades on.

    I was lucky enough to work with James and his team on a number of projects over the years. He was a mentor and an inspiration. I watched carefully, doing my best to learn, every time as he led client meetings, and I was always bowled over by how he was able to handle any curved balls without a break in his stride. Clients held James in such high regard. They knew they had someone really special on their side. He was always on hand to lend a pastoral ear, and to offer advice where it was requested. He was honest, and kind. He gave me some great, and tough, advice on a number of occasions, and I always tried my best to do whatever he suggested.

    I felt honoured that he would send me an invite every year to the annual fireworks party in Montreal, watched from the roof of the building he lived in worked in, and it will be to my eternal regret that I never made it in person. We did, however, meet numerous times over the recent years in London, Amsterdam and Las Vegas, and he arranged a good few meetings for me in NYC too – all in the name of selflessly helping to develop our business. It was always a highlight of any trip to spend some time chewing the cud with James, and it was also often with Chantel, without whom he would only travel without being by his side under great duress.

    The world has lost one of the good guys. The industry has lost a leader – one of the true greats. I’ve lost a friend.

    God speed, James.

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