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Large format in Bruxelles
Filmakers Symposium - February 16 - 19, 1996

This article first appeared in
..in 70mm
The 70mm Newsletter

Written by: Rene Sørensen Issue 45 - June 1996

The fifth annual Euromax meeting was held this year at the magnificent Kinepolis cinema in the heart of Belgium. The Large Format Filmmakers Symposium is arranged by the European association, Euromax, to promote the issues surrounding large format film production and distribution of IMAX and IMAX Dome films.

Friday the 16th, on the first evening, a presentation of Fantastic Formats took place. As this is of great interest for me, I enthusiastically sat on the front row. However, it turned out to be a lecture containing slides and a few sequences from 70mm films - a little disappointing.

Saturday was going to be a long day. First we started with "Tiger Child" - a very different and provoking film. I hope that more of this type of films are being produced in the future. Then I attended the first of eight lectures about how to make an IMAX production. The symposium is arranged by the Euromax organization to encourage the interest for 70mm/15 perf., and hopefully in the future we will see more European productions.

Film Finance & Budgeting for Production.

It is essential to do a proper research before you start fundraising. It is a very difficult task because a lot of people does not know LARGE FORMATS. I was hoping to get information about other productions, however, it seems that no one is willing to give the information - it is no secret though, that the costs for a production typically amounts to 2,5 - 4 million USD. But how are they spend? No one wished to tell! However, everyone agreed that it is very important to present a well substantiated budget.

We headed on to see a new film "The Edge", and after being in the business for 6 years I know a lot of the [IMAX-] films and I thought "now we are going to experience a film with action". Unfortunately the film is about a very special tree growing in Australia, and a lot of the scenes were repeated. However, it was interesting to hear the producer, John Weiley, talk about the research work for the film. The film is produced for an amusement park, situated in the area where the shooting of the film took place.

Education vs. Entertainment.

This debate lead no where, as the problem is, that most of the managers of IMAX theatres only wants to show scientific or destination films. A little conservative way of thinking. However, one must admit that it is a lot easier to raise funds for a production if it is about Grand Canyon or Yellowstone. A lot of local funds are interested in supporting such a project.

Then I attended a lecture which turned out to be an extremely interesting experience. Mr Vittorio Storaro told us about "Little Buddha" filmed in 65mm/5 perf. Mr Storaro is a real 70mm enthusiast! There should be more people like him. Storaro told us all about the problems he ran into when shooting in 65mm. He talked about "the feeling for the format", which was totally strange and unknown to the people in the IMAX business. A few sequences from "Little Buddha" were shown. It was fantastic to experience "real" 70mm film, where stage lighting, editing and every camera angel have been considered thoroughly. Mr Storaro was impossible to stop - he really loves 70mm - too bad there was no more time. Afterwards we went to the Royal Crown Hotel in Bruxelles for a cocktail- and dinner party. I was very lucky to be seated at the same table as Vittorio Storaro. The subject was, no other than 70mm. Great to be in the company of people with the same passion.

On Sunday another new IMAX film was shown. "Survival Island", produced by Christopher Parsons, one of the experienced guys in the business. "Survival Island" was very surprising. One of the most fantastic films I have ever seen. Amazing sceneries, where the light and the camera angles are great. A nice start of the day.

From Script To Storyboard.
The subject was mostly how important it is to have a good story.

Soundtrack and Language Version.

This involves large additional costs for all non-English speaking countries. Not all film producers are making the job easier for the exhibitors of the films. It is a must to be able to get a a videotape with time codes, otherwise it is impossible to make a proper language version.

Post Production Issues.

It was discussed how much you can do/change after the shooting of the film. Sequences from computer animated special effects. We agreed that it is important to involve the production companies at a very early stage. Time for dinner. The IMAX people had brought a 65mm/15 perf camera for us to see and not least touch. Very interesting.

The Role Of The Laboratory - European Facilities Update.

The subject about the possibilities of developing 65mm/70mm film in Europe was discussed. European productions were also discussed. Iras Films was going to make a film about architecture and Condor Films one about mobility. Unfortunately I just read that they will not proceed, as BMW has withdrawn from the project. It was late, close to midnight. Back to the hotel and straight to bed. On Monday the 19th I saw a short sequence from "Indy Car". There is not a lot to say about this film, so I will wait for the final production. This was also the case regarding a film called "Alaska".

Corporate Films and 70mm/15 perf Advertising.

A very interesting debate. The European cinema audiences want commercials, where this is not a success in the USA. IMAX showed us a nice 35mm commercial about IMAX. I believe that only the multi international companies would be interested in making 70mm commercials. After all, there are only 140 IMAX cinemas in the world. However, I think it would be a great way for upcoming filmmakers to get to know the format. But surely the big companies which would spend a lot of money on 70mm commercials, prefer a well known producer. "Across The Sea Of Time" - a 3D film, and in my opinion a really good and creative film. The story is nice and the subject is interesting. I like the attempts with a little acting. Hopefully in the future it will be possible to finance real actors.

Future Directions.

Everyone agreed on the importance of new creations, possibly from 35mm film makers, however, it requires that theatres are not afraid of trying new things. The audience who have experience more than 3 films in the IMAX/IMAX Dome format, feel that they experience the same thing every time: Nice, Large and Impressive. But the format should be used for more than wild life documentaries. "Wings of Courage" by Jean- Jacques Annaud. Another type of 3D film. A really good film that leaves no doubt that it is made by a professional film maker. Real actors, drama and emotions in this film. A nice way to end the symposium.

Epilog. I spend 16 hours on the train back to Copenhagen and had a lot of time to think about the experience during the week-end. I noted the fact that new powers are necessary for film making, but it is very difficult, almost impossible, to get any information at all. It seems the established people in the business are not that eager to help new comers. The reason may be the fact that it is very expensive to produce the films and there are only a few theatres to exhibit the films. Maybe they are afraid of losing their jobs? The dinner tables were the best places to gather information. Now I am preparing a lot of questions for the next ISTC meeting in Barcelona in September.

Mr Rene Sørensen (age 26). After attending high school he quickly became interested in the work of the projectionist. After a few years with 35mm in native Aalborg, Rene ended up in the Tycho Brahe Planetarium and IMAX Dome theatre in Copenhagen. He is now the chief projectionist, married and living in the old latin neighborhood in central Copenhagen. In the future Rene will appear more often in the Newsletter, ed.
 

Further in 70mm reading:

Euromax 2000
1995 Fantastic Formats

Internet link:

 

 
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