According to Tom Shoebridge (1979), "Bill Mason is a consummate filmmaker. Not only is he a respected craftsman in every facet of filmmaking, with a sure feeling for audience reaction, but he is true to himself in his selection and treatment of topics.
He approaches filmmaking as a painter does his canvas - alone, and with conviction and vigour. He deals only with topics which he has either experienced or has thought through completely, and to which he is firmly committed.
In a craft where group activity is the norm, he works mostly alone. In all of his films, he has done the directing, editing, filming (except the scenes which he appears in), scripting and research.
At first the family's (his wife Joyce and two children Becky and Paul) involvement was a passive acceptance of his extended filming expeditions. But in the last few years it has included everything from nursemaiding a pack of wolves to appearing in his films, adding a warm human element to them.
Mason's long experience as a cartoonist, layout artist and maker of commercials shows in his live-action filmmaking. Before shooting a single foot of film, he writes a very tight script and then draws an extremely detailed storyboard. In it he depicts exactly how he intends to film every scene or action sequence.
Once satisfied with his plans, he heads off in his battered car to film in a no-frills style of working alone, or with a crew of one. To further stretch his production budget and to be there to capture a sudden change in lighting or mood, he stays in the wilderness during the shooting, sleeping in a tent or under his canoe. To many people, living alone in the wilderness for long periods of time would be a hardship, but Mason loves it.
Once there, he is a perfectionist who tirelessly searches out the ideal location, sets up and then waits for exactly the right lighting or action. When that moment arrives, Mason springs into a frenzy of activity - "a human
dynamo" is how colleague Blake James terms it.
It is so intense that the filmmaker sometimes doesn't hear when someone speaks to him. Often he keeps up that pace for 18 hours a day, days on end.
Almost nothing deters Mason from getting the footage he wants. He scales glaciers for a single shot, swims rapids with a camera on his head, creates ingenious filming aids by employing the materials at hand.
Once he is satisfied that he has the shots he needs, the self-confessed "work addict" pores over the footage in a tiny studio near his home, editing and re-editing.
The most minute detail of the post-production of each film is scrutinized, nothing is left to chance. It can't be, for Mason sees filmmaking not as a job, but as an extension of his way of life."
Excerpts from His Camera : the Land and its Creatures by the National Film Board, a 1979 Publication, written by Tom Shoebridge.