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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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: