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"Seasons", A Short Film in 70mm

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Michael Milne, USADate: 02.10.2011
70mm frame blow-up from "Seasons in the Mind". Color restoration by Schauburg Kino

You might be interested in a bit of the background of the film. Peter Pearson and I were high school friends at UTS in Toronto. We both went to U of T. I am the third generation of a Toronto photography family. After college I was a photographic lecturer for Eastman Kodak where I co-produced and filmed a multi-screen slide and movie show called Photoscenic Canada, that toured the world. After that I worked in my Father's commercial photography studio, until Peter and I set up our production company.

After college, Peter went to Italy and studied film. Then he worked for the CBC and the Film Board. We remained best friends and spent hours plotting out how we would make films together. Our first joint effort was "The Best Damn Fiddler From Calabogie to Kaladar". Peter was director, and I was a free-lance art director. "Calabogie" almost didn't get made.

I had spent a month up on Calabogie searching locations, casting and preparing locations for the shoot. We had cast Chris Wiggins, Kate Reid and Margot Kidder, and were all set to shoot an hour 35mm colour film of Joan Finnegan's script. Peter had some trouble with John Kemeny, the Film Board producer, days before we were to start and the production was cancelled! Peter and I talked Kemeny into letting us shoot in 16mm black and white...a shame because the countryside and the locations were spectacular...but we made a heck of a film anyway. Kemeny didn't stop at just a b+w film...he only bought two-time rights from the actors. "Calabogie" was only broadcast ONCE on the CBC...but it won a basket full of Etrogs...now called Genies.
More in 70mm reading:

7. Todd-AO 70mm-Festival 2011

Canadian 70mm Short Films

The Lost Dominion 70mm Film Festival

"Seasons in the Mind": Canadian 70mm Short Films

We then made a theatrical short for the Board called "The Dowry", and after that film we set up Milne-Pearson Productions. We received the first production grant from the Canadian Government film initiative...and with it we bought the film rights to As For Me and My House, by Sinclair Ross. We hired Graeme Gibson to write the script. We were hardly into the script when we were contacted by an Ontario Government civil servant, Jim Ramsay, who wanted a film made.. I went to see him and pitched our feature..."House"...but after listening to my pitch for half an hour, he told me he wanted us to make a big screen film for the Cinesphere Theatre to be built at Ontario Place. He chose us because he loved the fight scene at the square dance in "Calabogie Fiddler"!!!! He told me we would have $500K....and he wanted it started right away!

We spent a little more than a year shooting the film. There was only one Imax camera in the world, and it was being used for "North of Superior". We tried to convince Ramsay to let us shoot in 70mm 3D...but he was worried about the Imax concept...so we ended up shooting in 35mm Panavision format and blew up the film to 70mm. That gave us a lot of technical leeway for the special effects. We created the visual effects in Toronto. We edited the film in Toronto. Then I spent two months at Technicolor, timing and finishing the 70 mm print. The score was recorded in 12 tracks at Todd A-O in Hollywood. We ended up with 6 sound tracks on the 70mm print and 6 more tracks running in synch on a 35mm magnetic tape. It was spectacular wrap around sound! Six tracks on the screen, two tracks on each side and two at the back of the Cinesphere theatre. When the film was reprinted a couple of years later they reduced the sound tracks to 6...and a 35 mm theatrical version was put into distribution by Paramount. Somewhere I have a 35mm print that has never been shown!
70mm frame blow-up from "Seasons in the Mind". Color restoration by Schauburg Kino

There is an interesting little sidebar to my Hollywood stay. While I was busy at Technicolor, I was spending my spare time trying to find financing and actors for As For Me and My House. Max Von Sydow agreed to play the male lead, Kate Reid was to be the wife, and Margot Kidder was cast for the female antagonist. Technicolor was excited by the "Seasons" film. They screened the rushes for several people and were very enthusiastic about the whole project. One day they asked me to meet a young film maker who they thought would be an ideal person to partner with. He was also trying to raise money for a couple of films...so we got together for dinner. We talked about "Seasons"...he had many questions...and I tried to interest him in House. He, on the other hand, wanted to make a film about two dueling tractor-trailers...and another about a space alien who was stranded on Earth and wanted to call his home! He asked me to DP his films, and after we made the first two, we would work on House.

It is a little embarrassing to acknowledge that I turned down Steven Spielberg!!!! I felt I had a moral obligation to my best friend, Peter Pearson. Steven wanted to direct, and so did Peter. That wouldn't work for our production company. Sadly, six months after "Seasons" opened at Cinesphere...Peter and I had an acrimonious falling out. We may have spoken three times in the last 30 years. At least two of those occasions were funerals!!!

I'm sure you know all about Peter's film career in Canada. I eventually gave up my photography and film interests and went into the garment industry in Montreal (until Levesque made things uncomfortable) and since then in New York City. I am now sort of retired in the wilderness (fishing the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers) of Pennsylvania.

It's interesting to think about the film! I hope I can get to see it again this year!
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Updated 07-01-23