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Ralph Lucas

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Tedde Moore

Tedde Moore, actress,

B: April 11, 1947 in Toronto, Ontario

Tedde Moore trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London, England. A professional actress since 1960, she has appeared in leading roles on many stages across the country. She is a member of The Actor’s Repertory Company, an actor-driven company that stages a monthly reading series as well as full productions. She has co-written (with Lynda Mason Green) a book of Canadian Theatrical anecdotes titled, Standing Naked In The Wings. She won the 2002 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Female Performance in Independent Theatre for her performance in the multi award winning play, The Walls of Africa, written and directed by Hrant Alianak. Her feature film work includes the perennial Christmas favourite, A Christmas Story. Ms. Moore also teaches acting and stagecraft to actors and Opera singers. Many websites list her birthday in October, she has informed us directly they are wrong.

Official website

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Rip-Off (1971)
Second Wind (1976)
Murder by Decree (1979)

The Amateur (1981)
A Christmas Story (1983)
Overnight (1986)
Mr. Nobody (narrator, 1987)
Taking Care of Terrific (TV-1987)
Rolling Vengeance (1987)

Terror on Track 9 (TV-1992)
It Runs in the Family (1994)
The Man in the Attic (TV-1995)
The Deliverance of Elaine (TV-1996)
Gotti (TV-1996)
Undue Influence (TV-1996)
God’s New Plan (TV-1999)

Focus (2001)
Torso: The Evelyn Dick Story (TV-2002)
The Scream Team (TV-2002)
Rolie Polie Olie: The Baby Bot Chase (VR-2003)

Down the Road Again (2011)
Mistletoe Over Manhatten (TV-2011)
The Anniversary (2014)
High-Rise Rescue (2017)
Magical Christmas Ornaments (TV-2017)

TV Series – Cast:
RoboCop: Prime Directives (2000, mini-series)

The Kennedys (2011, mini-series)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
The Littlest Hobo (1980)
Friday the 13th (1989, 1990)

E.N.G. (1992)
Road to Avonlea (1995)
PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal (1996)

Odyssey 5 (2003)
This is Wonderland (2005)
Little Einsteins (2005)

Rip Off, movie, poster,
This image was scanned from an original poster for Rip Off in the Northernstars Collection

Jay Baruchel

B: April 9, 1982 in Ottawa, Ontario

Jay Baruchel began life as Jonathan Adam Horrace McGee Saunders Baruchel. He began acting at the age of twelve when he landed a job on the Nickelodeon television series Are You Afraid of the Dark? transforming what was supposed to be a one-time guest appearance into a recurring role. The role was a springboard for his career, leading to his first Canadian series, My Hometown. Baruchel fulfilled a long held dream in 2002 when he directed the short film Edgar & Jane which he also wrote, produced and shot in Montreal. More recently he directed and costarred in the 2017 feature comedy Goon: Last of the Enforcers. Baruchel currently resides in Montreal and is an avid hockey and soccer fan.

Also see: Jay Baruchel to be Honoured by ACTRA
Also see: Dean DeBlois

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Who Gets the House? (1999)

Almost Famous (2000)
Matthew Blackheart: Monster Smasher (TV-2001)
The Rules of Attraction (2002)
Nemesis Game (2003)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Fetching Cody (2005)
I’m Reed Fish (2006)
Knocked Up (2006)
Just Buried (2007)
Fanboys (2008)
Tropic Thunder (2008)
Nick and Horah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)
Real Time (2008)
The Trotsky (2009)

She’s Out of My League (2010)
How to Train Your Dragon (voice, 2010)
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)
Good Neighbours (2010)
Goon (2011)
Cosmopolis (2012)
This is the End (2013)
The Art of the Steal (2013)
Don Peyote (2014)
RoboCop (2014)
How To Train Your Dragon 2 (voice, 2014)
Dragons: Dawn of the Dragon Racers (VR-2014, short)
Lovesick (2016)
Goon: Last of the Enforcers (2017)
Robot Bullies (2017, short)
Silence (2018, short)
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (voice, 2019)
The Kindness of Strangers (2019)
Random Acts of Violence (2019)
How to Train Your Dragon Homecoming (voice, TV-2019)

TV Series – Cast:
My Hometown (1996)
Popular Mechanics for Kids (1997-1998)
Are You Afraid of the Dark (1999)
Undeclared (2001)
The Stones (2004)
Just Legal (2005-2006)

Dragons: Riders of Berk (voice, 2012-2015)
Dragons: Race to the Edge (voice, 2015-2018)
Man Seeking Woman (2015-2017)
The Moodys (2019-)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Are You Afraid of the Dark (1995, 1999, 2000)
My Hometown (1996)
The Worst Witch (1998)
Numb3rs (2007)

Marcy (2011)
The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour (2011)
Being Human (2012)
Dreamworks How to Train Your Dragon Legends (voice, 2013)
The Magic School Bus Rides Again (voice, 2018)
Letterkenny (2018)
Trailer Park Boys: The Animated Series (voice, 2019, 2020)
Trailer Park Boys: Park After Dark (2020)

Credits as a Director:
Edgar and Jane (2002, short)
Goon: Last of the Enforcers (2017)
Random Acts of Violence

Credits as a Sceenwriter:
Edgar and Jane (2002, short)
Goon (2011)
Goon: Last of the Enforcers (2017)
Random Acts of Violence

Random Acts of Violence, movie, poster,

Belkacem Lahbairi

Belkacem Lahbairi, actor,

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Salut cousin! (1996)

Nitro (2007)

Nitro, movie, poster,

Ariane Legault

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Elles étaient cinq (2004)

Gerry (2011)
Pour l’amour de Dieu (2011)
Dans la neige (2011, short)
L’affaire Dumont (2012)
Une jeune fille (2013)
Épicentres (2013, short)
Sweet Sixteen (2014, short)
Le journal d’un vieil homme (2015)

TV Series – Cast:
Apparences (2012)

Jenny Levine

Jenny Levine, Jenny Cooper, Canadian actress,

B: 1974 in Toronto, Ontario

Jenny Levine, now known as Jenny Cooper, made her professional debut in 1995 series Jake and the Kid playing the role of series regular Molly. She went on to star in the Showtime series Fast Track. Although born in Canada, she grew up in Miami, Florida.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Primal Rage (1988)

When Innocence Is Lost (TV-1997)

Feast of All Saints (TV-2001)
The Recruit (2003)
The One (TV-2003)
Godsend (2004)
Lovewrecked (2005)
The Obsession (2006)
Baby Blues (2007)

Unconditionally (2010)
I Think I Do (2013)
Bambina (2016, short)
Cross: Rise of the Villains (2019)

TV Series – Cast:
Fast Track (1997)

Foreign Objects (2000)

Open Heart (2015)
Exposed (2017)
Law & Order True Crime (2017, mini-series)
Virgin River (2019-2020)

TV series – Guest Appearances:
Saved by the Bell: The College Years (1993)
Jake and the Kid (1996)
PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal (1998)
Nash Bridges (1999)
The Outer Limits (1999)

Bliss (2002)
Monk (2002)
Odyssey 5 (2002)
Mutant X (2003)
Soul Food (2003)
1-800-Missing (2003)
Doc (2003, 2004)
Black Hole High (2004, 2005, 2006)
24 (2006)
Close to Home (2007)
Ghost Whisperer (2007)
Las Vegas (2007)

CSI: Miami (2011)
Scandal (2012)
Last Resort (2012)
NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service (2012)
Bones (2015)
Grey’s Anatomy (2015)
CSI: Cyber (2015)
Rizzoli & Isles (2016)

MacGyver (2021)

Gerry

131 minutes – Drama, Biography
Language: French
Release date: June 15, 2011
Canadian Distributor: Les Films Christal

Gerry is a biographical film about the late Canadian rock singer Gerry Boulet (1946-1990) and his band Offenbach. Maurie Alioff in his July 2011 Inside Quebec column wrote: “For Quebeckers, especially Baby Boomers, the late Gerry Boulet (1946-1990) is a music legend. Those who still hanker for Quebec’s sovereignty embrace him as a symbol of nationalist passion that burns far less brightly than it did during the heyday of Boulet’s band, Offenbach. Like many pictures about music icons, Alain DesRocher’s Gerry opens at a turning point moment in Boulet’s life, flashes back, in this case to childhood, and then propels forward, hitting all the obligatory scenes one would expect from the ode to rock star genre.”

Production still and poster courtesy of Les films Christal. Gerry had a premiere screening in Boulet’s home town of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu on May 30, 2011.

Gerry, movie, poster,

Crew:

Producer:

Christian Larouche

Director:

Alain Desrochers

Screenwriter:

Nathalie Petrowski

Cinematographer:

Yves Bélanger CSC

Editor:

Eric Drouin

Composer:

FM Lesieur

Art Director:

Dominique Desrochers

Costume Designer:

Carmen Alie

Cast: Roles:

Mario Saint-Amand
Capucine Delaby
Marc-François Blondin
Éric Bruneau
Louis-David Morasse
Eugene Brotto
Mathieu Lepage
Madeleine Peloquin
Roberto Mei
Jonas Tomalty
Stéphane Archambault
Nathalie Cavezzali
Hugo Dubé
Ariane Legault
Luc Proulx

Gerry Boulet
Françoise Faraldo
Johnny Gravel
Pierre Harel
Denis Boulet
Breen Leboeuf
Willie Lamothe
Denise Boulet
Wezo
John McGale
Alain Simard
Director
Doctor Jolivet

Pour l’amour de dieu

Pour l'amour de dieu, movie, image,

93 minutes – Drama
Language: French
Release date: September 2, 2011
Distributor: Métropole Films Distribution

Montreal, 1959. In the classroom of Sister Cecilia, Léonie (aged 11) meets Father Malachy, a young Dominican father who has come to visit. It is love at first sight for this lonely and dreamy child who took refuge in religion to escape a mother who is emotional and too worried. But there is also love at first sight between Sister Cecilia and Father Malachy. Between human love and the love of God, which will prevail?

Pour l'amour de dieu, movie, poster,

Crew:

Producer:

André Gagnon
Monique Huberdeau

Director:

Micheline Lanctôt

Screenwriter:

Micheline Lanctôt

Cinematographer:

Michel La Veaux

Editor:

Aube Foglia

Composer:

Catherine Major

Costume Designer:

François Barbeau

Cast: Roles:

Madeleine Peloquin
Victor Andrés Trelles Turgeon
Ariane Legault
Lynda Johnson
Rossif Sutherland
Micheline Lanctôt
Lawrence Arcouette
Geneviève Bujold
Jean-Pierre Lefebvre
Marc Paquet
Nelson Villagra
Émile Proulx-Cloutier

Sister Cécile Eugénie
Father Malachy
Léonie, at 11
Pauline, Léonie’s mother
Jesus
Léonie, at 62
Jacques, Pauline’s brother
Sister Cécile Eugénie at 72
L’évêque
Gérard, Léonie’s father
Father Malachy at 76

Shannon Leroux

Shannon Leroux, Canadian actress,
Photo courtesy of eOne Films. Used with permission.

B: in Epson, England

Sarah Jurgens and Shannon Leroux (on the right) in a publicity still from the eOne Films 2014 release, Swearnet: The Movie.

Official website.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

The Power of the Chip (2004, short)
Most Guys Today (2006)
A Midwinter’s Dream (2006, short)

Swearnet: The Movie (2014)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Mob Stories II (2007)
ReGenesis (2008)
True Crime Scene (2008)
F2: Forensic Factor (2009)

Lost Girl (2012, 2013)

SwearNet, movie, poster
Poster for Swearnet courtesy of eOne Films.

Jack Blum

Jack Blum is an actor, producer, director and screenwriter.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Meatballs (1979)

Hog Wild (1980)
Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper (TV-1981)
The Funny Farm (1983)
Self Defense (1983)
Strawberry Shortcake: A Housewarming Surpirse (1983)
Shellgame (TV-1985)
Bionic Showdown (TV-1989)
Renegades (1989)

Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster (1991)
Exotica (1994)

Cowboys and Indians: The J.J.Harper Story (TV-2003)
Adoration (2008)

TV Series: Guest Appearances:
Street Legal (1987, 1989)
The Twilight Zone (1989)
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1989)
Dracula: The Series (1991)
Sweating Bullets (1991_
Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1994, 1995)

Credits as a Director:
Babyface (1998)

DNA (2003)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Hockey Night (TV-1984)
The Hospital (1985)
The Umpire (1985)
Jack of Hearts (1986)

Babyface (1998)

TV Series:
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1989)
King Fu: The Legend Continues (1995)
Traders (1996)

Meatballs, movie, poster,
This poster for Meatballs was scanned from an original in the Northernstars Collection,

Between Friends

Between Friends, movie, image,

91 minutes – Crime drama
Language: English
Release date: October 1, 1973
Canadian Distributor: Clearwater Films

Between Friends is about a small group of beautiful losers who commit a robbery in northern Ontario with disastrous results. It tells the story of Chino (Chuck Shamata), his girlfriend, Ellie (Bonnie Bedelia), her father Will (Henry Beckman), a professional thief, and Chino’s American friend and former surfing buddy Toby (Michael Parks, pictured above). Set in Sudbury and Toronto, Ontario, the group plans to rob the payroll of a nickel mine. Meanwhile Ellie becomes attracted to Toby.

Between Friends is Don Shebib’s third dramatic feature. It’s a taut, serious dramatic study of loyalty, Canada/U.S. relations and the limitations of male bonding. Also see: Beautiful Losers: Don Shebib’s Between Friends.

Between Friends, movie, poster,

Crew:

Executive Producer:

G. Chalmers Adams

Director:

Don Shebib

Screenwriter:

Claude Harz

Cinematographer:

Richard Leiterman

Editor:

Tony Lower
Don Shebib

Composer:

Matthew McCauley

Art Director:

Claude Bonnière

Cast: Roles:

Michael Parks
Bonnie Bedelia
Chuck Shamata
Henry Beckman
Hugh Webster
August Schellenberg
Maggie Askey
B.J. Canning
George Dawson
Kyle Edwards
Michael Kirby
Robert Munro
Joanna Noyes
Mel Profit
John Rutter
Guy Sanvido

Toby
Ellie
Chino
Will
Coker

Beautiful Losers: Don Shebib’s Between Friends

Between Friends, movie, image,

Beautiful Losers: Don Shebib’s Between Friends
by Barry Keith Grant

Don Shebib’s Between Friends (1973), about a group of beautiful losers who commit a robbery in northern Ontario with disastrous results, remains for me one of the great Canadian films despite changing critical fashion and paradigms of Canadian cinema.The film tells the story of Chino (Chuck Shamata), his girlfriend, Ellie (Bonnie Bedelia, pictured with Don Shebib), her father Will (Henry Beckman), a professional thief, and Chino’s American friend and former surfing buddy Toby (Michael Parks), who together— sort of execute a clumsy heist that goes horribly wrong. This dour and downbeat story is, nevertheless,“a taut, serious dramatic study of loyalty, Canadian/U.S. relations and the limitations of male bonding,” as Tom McSorley perceptively writes in Take One’s Essential Guide to Canadian Film. (1)

In so far as Between Friends focuses on Chino’s desire to return to the leisurely life of surfing in California, it’s thematically consistent with Shebib’s two earlier films, Goin’ down the Road (1970) and Rip–Off (1971), both of which explore youthful dreams shattered by harsh reality.Chino’s battered Woody and broken surfboard serve as poignant metaphors of the unfulfilled dreams of youth to which he clings.The film’s use of popular music also emphasizes Chino’s arrested adolescence: he and Toby sidewalk surf through an obstacle course of beer cans to that paean of perpetual youth to “Fun Fun Fun” by The Beach Boys, who, despite the passage of time, never became The Beach Men.Chino confides his California dreamin’ to Toby while listening to the Five Satins’s “In the Still of the Night,” a classic R&B ballad about romanticism and the arresting of time.

The film’s popular music is decidedly American, and is one of the ways Between Friends explores the influence of U.S. culture on Canada. Chino’s imagination, as Wim Wenders might say, has been colonized by American popular culture. Explaining his obsession with that warm California sun, Chino says to Toby, “You were born there, it was never any big deal for you.” Shortly after arriving on the scene, Toby begins to seduce Ellie with his ersatz entertainment—imitating a “Brazilian mugwump”—while Chino is marginalized and feminized, a short–order cook with an apron flipping burgers behind the counter of a greasy spoon. In the drab kitchen of their small apartment Chino elaborates for Ellie his American Dream of a house by the ocean with a two–car garage.“We’re gonna need it because we’re gonna have two cars,” he explains. But in 1973, even before the Canadian dollar slipped under par with its American counterpart, it is doubtful that $50,000 could really buy Chino and Ellie two cars, a home on premium Pacific shoreline real estate and whatever else they might need to make this dream come true.

The naive Canadian depends on the American, not only to help with “the job,” but to complete his identity.Michael Parks’ Toby (pictured on the right), with his pouty method acting and cheap James Dean imitation, seduces and screws both Canadians, one literally and the other figuratively. Chino’s offhand joke that Toby is “the biggest con artist you ever met” resonates with cultural significance. Unlike Shebib’s marvellously observant camera, so rooted in the daily details of his characters’ lives, Chino’s dream house is a paper castle fantasy from the start.Shebib cuts from Chino rhapsodiz;Michael Parks, Between Friends production still, 1973;ing about watching the waves roll in to a close–up of a muddy puddle in the wintry backyard, where the Woody sits immobile on blocks.In the end, tellingly, the two Canadian men die while the American gets the girl and the loot.

While Chino buys into the glamour of American pop culture, Between Friends resists doing so by the way it plays off of the genre’s conventions as developed in such earlier American caper films as John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (1956).Like other English–Canadian films of the tax–shelter era such as David Cronenberg’s Shivers (1975) and The Silent Partner (1978), Between Friends distinguishes itself as Canadian in large part by playing off the conventions of American popular film genres. The film’s most overt yet at the same time most elegant reference to American genre movies occurs at a funeral when Will sings “Shall We Gather at the River” in the cemetery.This song belongs to John Ford as surely as Monument Valley, and Shebib’s use of it here is as powerfully ironic as Sam Peckinpah’s more famous reference in the opening massacre in The Wild Bunch (1968). But where Peckinpah’s view of civilization is acerbic and apocalyptic, Shebib’s is fundamentally forlorn.While Will sings, in the background loom the mill’s furnaces, hardly the epic grandeur of Monument Valley’s buttes.These characters are not ennobled by nature, Shebib suggests, but enervated and alienated by economic imperatives.

The scene begins with a shot of the group, but as Will begins to sing, the priest and everyone else move away, isolating Will in the frame, a stark visual counterpoint to Ford’s mythic community. The primary generic context of Between Friends is not the Western, however, but theheist or caper film. The heist genre’s essential defining element is the plot, which is conventionally structured around the planning and commission of a single crime of great significance by a disparate group of characters, each with his or her own special skill and assigned task, who come together to work as a team to take down the house.The viewer’s involvement centres on the question of whether or ;Bonne Bedelia, Michael Parks, Between Friends, 1973;not the group will be able to pull off the crime for which we see them prepare, often elaborately, and in discovering which, if any of them, will get away with it.Even though the protagonists may be criminals, we typically root for them because they embody professionalism and the sense that the little guy, when cooperating with other little guys, can defeat corporate Goliaths with infinite resources at their command.

But in Between Friends, the group never comes together as a team, remaining instead isolated and never by their individual issues.In place of the genre’s typical professionalism, Chino and Toby, although not complete amateurs —Toby, we learn, has “done time” —certainly do not display the cool competency of American movie hoods.Will reassures Toby that he’s not an amateur, that he’s “done this kind of thing before,” but when Toby asks him why then isn’t he rich, Will’s reply —“I figure you can’t lose all the time”—hardly inspires confidence in his abilities.These guys are small–time operators with no special skills.In the group’s nascent plan, Toby is designated as the driver, as he is in the opening California robbery scene; but despite being almost as silent as Ryan O’Neal’s wordless wheelman in Walter Hill’s The Driver (1978), unlike O’Neal, he demonstrates no particular aptitude for driving (and he is easily replaced in that role by Ellie after Coker’s death).

The troubled relationship between the characters is signalled by the rich ambiguities of the film’s title.Does it mean something shared by friends, or something that becomes a wedge between them?Or does the title refer to the kind of personal matters that inevitably arise in friendships, or something alien to them?Does Ellie come between Toby and Chino, or Toby between the couple?However we understand the title, though, Shebib deftly expresses how these characters are alone together in the mise en scène.Peter Harcourt (2) has noted the way the characters are separated in the bar the night before the robbery, with Ellie plunking dolefully on the piano and a melancholy torpor infusing the scene like thick cigarette smoke.Also noteworthy is the scene in the cramped apartment with Chino, Ellie and Toby. Chino is positioned, appropriately, in the centre foreground sanding his surfboard, while Ellie works at her sewing machine in the mid–ground to the right and Toby watches television in the background to the left.The spatial tensions are accentuated by the competing sounds of the television, sewing machine and electric sander on the soundtrack.Finally, a fuse blows, anticipating the emotions that will spill over later after Ellie reveals her affair with Toby to Chino.

The robbery itself, usually the showcase scene of caper films, is treated more like an anticlimactic afterthought. The mournful strings that play on the soundtrack as Chino, Ellie and Toby first drive past the slag heaps into Coniston foreshadow the eventual outcome of the doomed heist and is in fact heard again during the robbery instead of more typically suspenseful music. In pointed contrast to the hyperkinetic, streamlined style toward which American crime films were already moving (Bullitt appeared in 1968, The French Connection in 1971), Between Friends eschews action for character exploration.Even when the enraged Chino, his dreams crushed because of Ellie and Toby’s affair, stops hacking at his surfboard and turns toward Toby, axe in hand, there is only simmering rage, no physical violence.

Canadian critic John Hofsess has noted that “Even when people fail in American films, they do so spectacularly, and in terms that are larger than life so that ;Between Friends, 1973 movie poster;they seem heroic in spite of death. Their failure has been glamourized, whereas in Canadian films, the characters are usually grubby and more than a little dumb.” (3)It’s true that in Between Friends the Canadians die unheroically. Will is unceremoniously plopped from the getaway car into the snow, and Chino rolls to a dead stop behind the wheel.But the film’s characters are hardly dumb—indeed, Bedelia’s Ellie is one of the most fully realized female characters in all of Canadian cinema.Rather, they’re just plain folks, the kind of people who, like Chino, have photos of themselves framed in old toilet seats (a nice metaphor there).Shebib himself says his characters are not losers, but rather “average, but interesting people, who happen to fail.” In the way it juxtaposes American action film conventions with mundane Canadian locations, Shebib’s film, like Paperback Hero (also released in 1973), suggests the inappropriateness of American cultural myths to the Canadian context.For myth Between Friends substitutes the mundane, challenging the glamour of American popular culture that claims Chino as its victim.

On the most immediate level, Between Friends provides the kind of pleasure in its acute observation of life’s minutiae.Look, for example, at the sleazy drug boss (“Cash or stash?”) or Beckman’s drunken jig at the party on payday before he collapses onto a chair rather than into it.The way Bedelia, as Ellie, has her coffee in the morning before going to work as a supermarket cashier speaks as eloquently about her character and the dullness of daily routine as the maid grinding the morning coffee in Vittorio de Sica’s neo–realist masterpiece Umberto D (1952).One gets the sense from the film’s richly observed world that the story could go off in any direction.We even want to know more about Coker (Hugh Webster), the job’s inside man who is dispatched early on by a heart attack with only the hint of a back story.

When Between Friends was released, Martin Knelman rightly noted that it could never be mistaken for an American movie (4).Perhaps this accounts for why the film failed at the box office.Shebib, certainly, blamed Famous Players for sacrificing it on the alter of the art film at the Imperial 6 Cinemas on Yonge Street in Toronto.But if mainstream American cinema buried Between Friends, there is a delicious irony in the scene where Toby visits Malibu one last time before heading north to Canada—a place “far away” as he explains to his son on the telephone. Shot in British Columbia, the scene is obviously too rocky for southern California, and there is a dull, grey overcast to the images that is more characteristic of the Canadian west coast.When a young surfer with long golden hair—an archetypal embodiment of the dream that has captured Chino—recognizes Toby, they talk, and when the surfer leaves to “catch some waves,” he says to Toby, “See you around, eh?” revealing, whether intentionally or not, the scene’s true national identity.Elsewhere the film includes some overt Canadian references (Casa Loma, Toronto Dominion Bank and “Scarbora,” among them), but this moment on the beach in Between Friends is one glorious instance in the history of Canadian cinema in which it is able to co–opt American representations rather than vice versa.In presenting such a dreary, tarnished image of an American dream, this brief scene, again unlike Chino,resists the blandishments of American popular culture and wonderfully encapsulates the entire film.

Notes: 1. Take One’s Essential Guide to Canadian Film, ed. by Wyndham Wise (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), p. 20.
2
. Cinema Canada, October 1975, No. 32.
3
. John Hofsess, Inner Views: Ten Canadian Fim Makers (Toronto: McGraw–Hill Ryerson, 1975), p. 77.
4. Martin Knelman, This Is Where We Came In: The Career and Character of Canadian Film (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1977), p. 99.

Back to the Cast & Crew of Between Friends.

At the time this artiicle was published, author Barry Keith Grant was professor of film studies and popular culture at Brock University. He is a noted Canadian film scholar and has published several books about film and filmmaking.

Northernstars, logo, imageThis article was first published in Issue 38 of Take One Magazine in July 2002. Northernstars.ca acquired the archives of Take One in 2007.

Guy Sanvido

B: in Haiti

Guy Sanvido is also a stage actor.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Counter Etiquette Part 2 (1967)
The Cube (TV-1969)
The First Time (1969)
Change of Mind (1969)

My Pleasure Is My Business (1975)
The Silent Partner (1978)

Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper (TV-1981)
Heartaches (1981)
The Amateur (1981)
Deadly Eyes (1982)
Doing Life (TV-1986)
The Right of the People (TV-1986)
Popeye Doyle (TV-1986)
Sworn to Silence (TV-1987)
Andrea Martin… Together Again (TV-1989)
Buying Time (1989)

Stanley & Iris (1990)
Curtis’s Charm (1995)
Holiday Affair (TV-1996)
The Wrong Guy (1997)
Simon Birch (1998)
Locked in Silence (TV-1999)

Walter and Henry (TV-2001)
Luck (2003)

The Rocker (2008)

TV Series – Cast:
Spearfield’s Daughter (1986, mini-series)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
The Forest Rangers (1964)
Seaway (1966)
King of Kensington (1979)
Seeing Things (1985)
Night Heat (1986, 1988)
Katts and Dog (1988)
The Twilight Zone (1989)
Side Effects (1994)
Road to Avonlea (1995)
Relic Hunter (2000)
Queer as Folk (2002)
Doc (2004)
Zoe Busiek: Wild Card (2004)

The Silent Partner, movie, poster,
Scanned from an original in the Northernstars Collection.

Ken Finkleman

Ken Finkleman, director,

B: 1946 in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Ken Finkleman is an actor, writer, director and producer. He began as a screenwriter and worked in Hollywood for more than 15 years. His credits include writing Who’s That Girl, Grease 2 and writing and directing Airplane 2: The Sequel. Both More Tears and Foolish Heart were sequels to the 1996-1997 The Newsroom series, which Finkleman reprised in 2004-2006. His The Newsroom series should not be confused with the US, HBO series of the same name.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)

Escape From the Newsroom (TV-2002)

TV series – Cast:
Married Life (1995)
The Newsroom (1996-1997)
More Tears (1998)
Foolish Heart (1999)

Foreign Objects (2000)
The Newsroom (2004-2005)

Good Dog (2011)

Credits as a Director:
Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)
Head Office (1985)

Escape From the Newsroom (TV-2002)

#AnAmericanDream (2017)

TV series – at least 1 episode of:
Married Life (1995)
The Newsroom (1996-1997)
More Tears (1998)
Foolish Heart (1999)

Foreign Objects (2000)
The Newsroom (2004-2005)
At the Hotel (2006)

Good Dog (2011)
Good God (2012)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Callahan (TV-1982)
Grease 2 (1982)
Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)
Head Office (1985)
Who’s That Girl (1987)

Escape From the Newsroom (TV-2002)

#AnAmericanDream (2017)

TV series – at least 1 episode of:
The Frankie Howerd Show (1976)
Van Dyke and Company (1976)

The Newsroom (1996-1997)
More Tears (1998)
Foolish Heart (1999)

Foreign Onjects (2000)
The Newsroom (2004-2005)
At the Hotel (2006)

Good Dog (2011)
Good God (2012)

Credits as a Producer:
The Newsroom (1996-1997)
More Tears (1998)
Foolish Heart (1999)

Foreign Objects (2000)
The Newsroom (2004)

Good Dog (2011)
Good God (2012)
#AnAmericanDream (2017)

Airplane II: The Sequel, movie, poster,

Yuval Daniel

Yuval Daniel, actor,

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Yuval Daniel is an actor and director.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Naked Lunch (1991)
The Hunt for the Unicorn Killer (TV-1999)

Restless (2008)
Adoration (2008)

TV Series – Guest Appearances:
La Femme Nikita (1997)
Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye (2003)

Credits as a Director:
Un hiver de tourmente (2002)
Nulle part au Texas (TV-2002)

Naked Lunch, movie, poster,
Scanned from an original in the Northernstars Collection.

Mélanie St-Pierre

Mélanie St-Pierre, actress,

B: April 5, 1985 in Toronto, Ontario

Mélanie St-Pierre began her path to an acting career through ballet and Acro (a mix of dance and acrobatics) when she was just a toddler. She found her passion when her parents signed her up for circus arts. Throughout her childhood and teens St-Pierre was a contortionist and solo trapeze performer. Circus arts led her to film and television when she was 13-years-old and was cast as a contortionist in HBO’s Stories of Courage with Darryl Hannah.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Rescuers: Stories of Courage: Two Families (TV-1998)

Ten Days to Victory (TV-2005)
A Life Interrupted (TV-2007)
Prom Wars: Love is a Battlefield (TV-2008)
Spoliation (2008)
A Flesh Offering (2008)
Dead Like Me: Life After Death (VR-2009)

Barney’s Version (2010)
Til Death… (2010, short)
Exposed (TV-2011)
Long Day Gone (2011)
L’Empire Bo$$é (2012)
Garm Wars: The Last Druid (2013)
Hannah and Anna: Danger Girls (2016, short)
Christmas Encore (TV-2017)
Christmas Wedding Planner (TV-2017)
Christmas With a View (TV-2018)
Christmas With a Price (TV-2018)
Art of Falling in LOve (2019)

Love by Accident (TV-2020)
Romance in the Winds (2021)

TV Series – Cast:
Heroes Reborn (2015, mini-series)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Naked Josh (2005)
15/Love (2005)
The Business (2007)
Sophie (2009)

Blue Mountain State (2010)

Barney's Version, movie, film, poster,
Poster © 2010 Serendipity Point Films − All right reserved.

Thea Gill

Thea Gill, Canadian, actress,

B: April 5, 1970 in Vancouver, British Columbia

Thea Louise Gill earned a Golden Sheaf Award at the 2003 Yorkton Short Film Festival for Best Actress in the TV series, Bliss. She is usually remembered for her starring role as Lindsay Peterson in the Showtime television series Queer as Folk.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Bubbles Galore (1996)
Let Me Call You Sweetheart (TV-1997)
Papertrail (1997)

Common Ground (TV-2000)
Washed Up (2000)
Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (TV-2001)
Tornado Warning (TV-2002)
Sightings: Heartland Ghost (TV-2002)
Ice Men (2004)
Eighteen (2004)
Truth (VR-2005)
Lesser Evil (TV-2006)
Seed (2007)
Swap (2007, short)
Mulligans (2008)
The Strange Case of DJ Cosmic (2009, short)
Four Steps (2009, short)

The Putt Putt Syndrome (2010)
Riverworld (TV-2010)
The Boy She Met Online (2010)
Lies Between Friends (TV-2010)
Dishin’ It Up (TV-2010)
Slip Away (2011, short)
Mother Country (2011)
My Mother’s Secret (TV-2012)
Flying Down to Rio (2013)
Stonados (TV-2013)
The Grid: Zombie Outlet Maul (voice, 2015)
LOve, Colin (2016, short)
20th Century Woman (2016)
10 Year Reunion (TV-206)
In the Black (TV_2016)
Throw Like a Girl (2019, short)

Shepard (2020)

TV Series – Cast:
Queer as Folk (2000-2005)
Dante’s Cove (2006-2007)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Forever Knight (1992)
Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1995)
Traders (1997)
Due South (1998)

D.C. (2000)
Bliss (2003)
Andromeda (2004)
The Collector (2005)
Reunion (1997)
Masters of Horror (2005)
Ghost Whisperer (2009)

Falling Upwards (2012)
Castle (2014)

Mulligans, movie poster
Poster for the 2008 movie, Mulligans

Von Flores

Von Flores, Canadian, actor,

B: April 5, 1960 in Malabon, Philippines

Von Flores is pictured as Eddie in a publicity still from the series, The Line. Flores immigrated to Canada as a teenager. When he was in school he fuly admits he was “floundering in chemistry at the University of Toronto and playing trumpet in the orchestra” when his girlfriend, now his wife, encouraged him to pursue his creative talents. Deciding to take the plunge, he left university and became fairly successful working in real estate while he studied acting at night. One night a fellow Filipino at acting class told Flores about an audition for Night Heat. With no expectations, he went to the audition and landed a guest lead role which helped to jump-start his career.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Fireballs (1987)
Renegades (1989)

The Big Slice (1991)
I Love a Man in Uniform (1993)
Zero Patience (1993)
TekWar (TV-1994)
Car 54, Where Are You? (1994)
TekWar: TekLords (TV-1994)
Model by Day (TV-1994)
TekWar: TekJustice (TV-1994)
Soft Deceit (1994)
Eclipse (1995)
Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
Picture Perfect (TV-1995)
Down Came a Blackbird (TV-1995)
Gridlock (TV-1996)
Darkman III: Die Darkman Die (VR-1996)
Conumdrum (TV-1996)
The Assignment (1997)
Blood on Her Hands (TV-1998)
Dogboys (TV-1998)
Johnny 2.0 (TV-1998)
Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms (TV-1998)
Sirens (TV-1999)

Lucky Girl (TV-2001)
Ham & Cheese (2004)
Home Beyond the Sun (TV-2004)
The Good Shepherd (2004)
Plague City: SARS in Toronto (TV-2005)
Human Trafficking (TV-2005)
Cow Belles (TV-2006)
Degrassi Spring Break Movie (TV-2008)
Never Cry Werewolf (TV-2008)

GodMachine (2012, short)
Let It Snow (2019)

TV Series – Cast:
Picture Windows (1995, mini-series)
Earth: Final Conflict (1997)
The Weight (2008)
The Line (2008-2009)
5000 Years of Heroes (2019, mini-series)
Rising Suns (2020, mini-series)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Night Heat (1988)
War of the Worlds (1988)
Friday the 13th (1988, 1990)
Katts and Dog (1988, 1989, 1991)
E.N.G. (1989)
My Secret Identity (1989)
Street Legal (1989)

Top Cops (1991)
Beyond Reality (1992)
The Hidden Room (1993)
Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1993, 1994, 1995)
Forever Knight (1994)
Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years (1996)
La Femme Nikita (1997)
The Adventures of Sinbad (1996, 1997)

Adventure Inc. (2002)
Doc (2004)
Degrassi: The Next Generation (2005, 2008)
Mayday (2005, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2020)
Angela’s Eyes (2006)
ReGenesis (2008)
Cra$h & Burn (2009)
The Border (2009)

InSecurity (2011)
Skins (2011)
Lost Girl (2011)
Rookie Blue (2012)
The Listener (2013)
Nikita (2013)
Killjoys (2015)
Conviction (2017)
Dark Matter (2017)
Designated Survivor (2017)
The Detectives (2018)
Frankie Drake Mysteries (2018)

Private Eyes (2019)

Coroner (2020)
Nurses (2020)

Ham & Cheese, movie, poster

Mackenzie Davis

Mackenzie Davis, actress,

B: April 1, 1987 in Vancouver, British Columbia

Mackenzie Davis, pictured as Nicole in the eOne Entertainment release The F Word. She received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress Canadian Screen Award for her work in The F Word. She played the character of Cameron Howe in 40 episodes of the series Halt and Catch Fire between 2014 and 2017.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Alex (2011, short)
Smashed (2012)
Breathe In (2013)
Bad Turn Worse (2013)
Plato’s Reality Machine (2013)
Moontown (2013, short)
That Awkward Moment (2014)
The F Word (2014)
Emptied (2014, short)
A Country Called Home (2015)
The Martian (2015)
Freaks of Nature (2015)
Always Shine (2016)
Memory Box (2016, short)
Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town (2017)
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Tully (2018)
Boomerang (2018, short)
Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

The Turning (2020)
Irresistible (2020)
Happiest Season (2020)

TV Series – Cast:
Halt and Catch Fire (2014-2017)
Dirty Diana (2020, mini-series)
Station Eleven (2021, mini-series)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
I Just Want My Pants Back (2012)
Black Mirror (2016)
No Activity (2017)

Blade Runner 2049, movie, poster,
Blade Runner 2049 poster courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Beth Lockerbie

Beth Lockerbie, actress,

B: 1915 in
D: September 21, 1968 in Toronto, Ontario

Beth Lockerbie was also a radio actor, and appeared on early series like The Youngbloods of Beaver Bend in the 1930s. The series Scarlett Hill was the first daytime soap opera produced for Canadian television. Based on an American radio drama created by Robert and Kathleen Lindsay, the series focused on the residents of the Russell Boarding House in Scarlett Hill, New York. The owner, Widow Kate Russell was played by Beth Lockerbie. It was syndicated to the United Kingdom, Australia and the US.

Also see: John Drainie

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

The Incredible Journey (1963)

TV Series – Cast:
Maggie Muggins (voice, 1955-1962)
Cannonball (1958-1959)

Scarlett Hill (1962-1964)
The Mystery Maker (1967)

The Incredible Journey
This poster for The Incredible Journey was scanned from an original in the Northernstars Collection,

IMAX at 30

IMAX at 30: An Interview with Graeme Ferguson
By Wyndham Wise

The IMAX story is one of inventiveness, experimentation and success. Conceived by freelance cinematographer Graeme Ferguson and NFB producer and director Roman Kroitor in the fall of 1967, their goal was to create the world’s most sophisticated film projection system. Today, the Imax Corporation has grown to 136 theatres in 20 countries, with a backlog of 45 theatres scheduled to open during the next few years. The Sony IMAX Theater in New York is one of the highest–grossing screens in America and Sony will be opening IMAX 3–D theatres in Tokyo, San Francisco and Berlin. Cineplex is adding an IMAX screen in Chicago and Famous Players has announced plans to open Canada’s first state of the art IMAX 3–D theatre as part of a downtown Toronto entertainment complex that would include 14 conventional 35 mm screens. This level of corporate success has been a long time coming and what started out as a very clever idea to revolutionize film projection became a 25–year struggle to attain financial security. With that goal finally obtained, it is now just a matter of time before IMAX theatres will be found in every major market worldwide, just as Ferguson and Kroitor dreamed 30 years ago.

Take One interviewed Graeme Ferguson when it was announced that the Imax Corporation had been given its long–overdue Academy Award for Technical and Scientific Achievement this past spring. Ferguson not only cofounded the company, he has also been responsible for producing and directing some of its most successful films: North of Superior (produced, directed, photographed and edited, 1971), Man Belongs to Earth (produced with Kroitor, 1974), Ocean (produced and directed, 1977), Hail Columbia! (directed and photographed; produced with Kroitor, 1982), The Dream Is Alive (produced and directed, 1985), Blue Planet (produced, 1991), Destiny in Space (produced, 1994) and Into the Deep (produced, 1994).

How did you get started in your career as a filmmaker?

When I was a student, there were essentially very few ways of learning filmmaking. The NFB set up a very good program in which they went across the country each year and chose about a dozen students in Canadian universities who came and worked at the Film Board for the summer. I was at the University of Toronto and was chosen as a summer student in 1951. I was chosen for the camera department. One of the other summer students in the department was Michel Brault and in the production department the summer students included Roman Kroitor, who later became my brother-in-law. The other tie to all of that was in my high school days in Galt, Ontario. One of my classmates was Wolf Koenig, and so Wolf and I had been enthusiastic about photography as high schooled students, and Wolf had good luck. He got pulled off a tractor and sent to the NFB. He started at the bottom as a splicer and ended up as one of its finest filmmakers.

You ended up in New York in the mid–1960s as a freelance cameraman on Rooftops of New York, which actually got an Academy Award nomination for Best Short. How did you come to work on Polar Life for Expo 67?

Roman has asked me to consult for a day or two on Labyrinth when he was first conceiving that film. I had done a fair amount of filming in the Arctic and Alaska and so it wasn’t a startling idea, but I nothing particularly to show the committee, so I showed them The Love Goddesses, which couldn’t be a more remote film from what they were asking me to do. They said okay, “We’ll hire you to go and wander around the Arctic, but give us a film on the polar life.” I hadn’t worked in 3–D, but I thought it would be kind of nice to do the Arctic in 3–D for Expo. They were designing Expo ’67 at the same time that the New York World’s Fair was going on, and the New York World’s Fair had some wonderful examples of multi–image, multi–screen and, of course, there was a whole tradition of that going back through the Expo’s in Europe and the American exhibit in Moscow. So a lot of people had been working on this idea. It really goes back to the beginning of cinema.

When and where was the idea for IMAX hatched?

It was right after Expo. I was up in Montreal in August, and Expo was very popular. It was obvious to us that there was a big audience. And it wasn’t just because it was multi–screen. It was because we had the screens bigger. Because we had more projectors to fill the bigger screens as well as the multi–images. So, I was at Roman’s house one afternoon and he and I started discussing the fact this this was very successful, but a very cumbersome way to project the films. We said to each other: “Wouldn’t it be better to have or been able to have a single, large–format projector to fill a large screen. Obviously the next step was to have a larger film format, larger than anything that had ever been done. We talked for about an hour, and within that hour we had sketched out the screen size that could be used and the film format that would be capable of doing that. The idea of a horizontal, 70 mm film format with 15– or 16–perf pull across was really figured out in the first few minutes. We said to ourselves, “Let’s invent this new medium.” To do that, we needed a company. When I had made Polar Life, I chose a very experienced businessman, an old high school colleague named Robert Kerr. He printed all the reserve seat tickets for the Maple Leaf Gardens in days. He was also the mayor of Galt. So when I was going to make Polar Life, I asked Robert to be my business partner. He had never made films before, but he was my business partner through Polar Life. it was not only a very popular film, but we actually made it for less than budget, so we made a bit of money out of it. I called Robert and about a week or two later we met in my office in New York on evening. the three of us sat down and decide to set up a company. Robert was in Galt, Roman was in Montreal and I was in New York. We didn’t even have one headquarters. We started out with three people in three different places. We agreed to set it up as a Canadian company, and so Robert went back to Galt and set up the company. I think if you look at the incorporation date, it would be September, 1967. We did that all within a few weeks. So the 30th anniversary of IMAX is actually September (1997).

Where in the name IMAX come from?

That came a year or two later. We first called the company Multiscreen Corporation because that, in fact, was what people knew us as. But the main thing is that we called the system Multivision because we saw it as a large–screen way of showing multi–image films. It was with multi–image that we had a great success in, and we thought that was the central thing to do. Not the only thing, but the central thing. After about a year, our attorney informed us that we could never copyright or trademark Multivision. It was too generic. It was a descriptive word. The words that you can copyright are words like Kleenex or Xerox or Coca-Cola. If the name is descriptive, you can’t trademark it so you have to make up a word. So we were sitting at lunch one day in a Hungarian restaurant in Montreal and we worked out a name on a place mat on which we wrote all the possible names we could think of. We kept working with the idea of maximum image. We turned it around and came up with IMAX.

How did you transform your idea into a working model?

Although neither Roman, Robert or I were engineers or even very technically oriented or skilled, we knew what technology we would need. One of the things we knew is that you couldn’t take a standard movie projector and just scale the whole thing up and run a big film. So we knew that we would need to find a new projector movement. Roman and I had gone out to Los Angeles to look at a movement that was being used there in some high–speed printers. One evening we went to dinner at my old friend, Jean–Philippe Carson. Jean-Philippe and I had worked together in film in my freelance days and now he was running the Eclair Corporation of America. He said he had just read a little, one–paragraph extract in a publication that described a new film movement that had just been invented in Australia. So we said this looks interesting, why don’t we find out about it. Jean–Philippe and Robert called Ron James, the inventor, in Brisbane. I think Ron was essentially a man who serviced projectors; a very bright man. We called him up and asked, “Have you sold the rights?” He said, “No, not yet, but I’ve had a couple expressions of interest, but I haven’t actually sold the rights.” Jean–Philippe and Robert flew to Brisbane, met with Ron, and acquired the patent rights to his invention. We didn’t have much money, so we paid for it over some time. he had a set amount he wanted. I don’t remember the exact amount, but it was a rather odd number. We asked, “Why do you want that?” He said, “I want to build a little house up in the hills and that is the amount it will cost me to build it.” He was in his sixties by then and he wanted to retire. So we paid him the amount over time and then for the rest of his life he continued to consult with us, helping us develop his invention, which he called a Rolling Loop.

Now you had the idea and a patent, but how did you actually build the projector with its Rolling Loop?

We were not terribly smart and we thought we would just find somebody to build the projector for us. After thinking about it for a couple of weeks, we became more astute and we came to the conclusion we would need an engineer to help us. And who was the best engineer? That was Bill Shaw. Bill had been in the same high school as Robert and myself in Galt and was now the chief engineer at CCM, which in those days was the principle builder of sports equipment in Canada. Robert and I went to see Bill and asked him to quit his job and come to work for us. We had no money, but we had an idea for the world’s most sophisticated motion picture projector and the most sophisticated camera. This was the challenge. Bill quit his job at CCM and came over to us in 1968. The interesting thing is that we were all in our forties and what has been commented on since then is that we would never have done this earlier or later in life, because each of us had had a successful career and we were confident in our abilities. But if that career went on for the rest of our lives, it would not be so interesting. When you get someone in their forties, it’s a very good time to try sometime new, if you have been successful. For us, it was a very good moment. Bill had never been in a projection booth when we hired him, so the first thing for him to do was study conventional projectors. But this was a big advantage, because he had no preconceived notions of how a projector should work. Bill knew that McMaster University [in Hamilton, Ontario] had a program to support industry, so if a company wanted to develop something new, it could be done at McMaster in conjunction with the engineering faculty. They took us under their wing and gave us a lab and a supervising professor, and the first project was built at McMaster. That projector went to Osaka for the World’s Fair in 1970 and came back to Ontario Place.

Ontario Place was built on the Toronto waterfront directly after Expo, with its geodesic dome and large–screen theatre.

We had money from Fujifilm in Japan for the World’s Fair, which helped build the projector. We also received a small amount of money from the Federal government, but we were very short of money. We could see that we would have difficulty in meeting the company payroll very soon. I went to Chris Chapman [the Toronto filmmaker who had made A Place to Stand for the Ontario pavilion at Expo] and told him we were in trouble and might go under soon. Chris said, “There is something going on that you may not know about, but it might be helpful. The Ontario government is going to build an entity called Ontario Place. There will be a large–screen theatre and the architect is Ed Ziedler. They haven’t figured out exactly what they are going to show in there, but they do want a large–screen theatre.” So he set up a meeting for me with James Ramsay, who was the civil servant who oversaw the building of the Ontario pavilion at Expo, and he was now overseeing the building of Ontario Place. We would bring the projector back from Japan and have a wide–angle lens designed for it. That theatre, in fact, would become the prototype for all IMAX theatres today, with its deep–sloped seats and surround sound. Not only did Ramsay buy the projector from us, but he commissioned the first IMAX film for Ontario Place. He was commissioning films from various Ontario filmmakers for various parts of the province. He had divided up the province in his mind and each filmmaker was given a section. He said to me, “You can have from Wawa to the Manitoba border and up to, but not including, the shoreline of Hudson’s Bay,” because he had given that to another filmmaker. I had never been given a film with less detailed instructions, which is great for a filmmaker because the less detail you get, the more freedom you have.

That film was North of Superior, which was basically your film, wasn’t it?

I produced, directed, shot and edited it.

It set a standard, creating a new way of experiencing cinema, and it was hugely popular with the audiences.

The reason was that for the first time the audience felt immersed in the film. Wherever the camera was, the audience felt “in” it. And to this day that remains one of the dominant characteristics of IMAX, to be able to put the audience in the picture. The use we primarily conceived for IMAX, for multi–images, didn’t put the audience in the picture. Instead, what it did was to present cinema in a sort of metaphorical way, so you could see two or more images and your mind would combine those two images to create, in a poetic sense, a whole out of the parts. Intellectually, what we were trying to do was more interesting, and certainly was interesting if you go back and look at those Expo films. They worked dramatically and intellectually. They were very stimulating, What we did with North of Superior was less intellectual, more gut reaction to what had been done in the days of Cinerama.

The motion of swooping over the cliff, everyone remembers that. The audience would experience a sudden drop, like a rollercoaster ride.

In the days of Cinerama that was called a Kinesthetic effect, and I knew that I had that tool to use because Robert Gaffney, who I had gone to for advise on the camera, had done extremely successful work in Fortress of Peace and Sky over Holland. He had taken a 70 mm camera and put it in the nose of an airplane and made people airsick. So we knew we had a tool that we could use. However, the reaction time to anything is always rather longer than the inventor can ever imagine. You think you might have built a better mouse trap and the world will come to your door the next morning. But they will beat the way to your door about five years later, that’s how it really works. So there are many inventions, like Xerography, which took many, many years between the invention and the widespread use. What happened is that the film industry did not got to Osaka to see what was going on, but once we got to Ontario Place, they began to come—exhibitors, producers and directors—to see what we had and whether they could use it. We had many discussions with studios and filmmakers. Most were initially promising, but it would always bog down over the time it would take to build enough theatres.

If Ontario Place was beginning to look like a one–shot thing and you didn’t have the capital to pop these theatres across the countryside, what kept you in business?

It was a deep searching look into ourselves. Within about a couple of years, a few people came along and said they wanted to use IMAX. One of the first was the U.S. government who wanted to put it into Expo ’74 in Spokane, Washington, and Roman and I produced a film that I directed called Man Belongs to Earth with Chief Dan George. It, again, was successful. Roman had previously made Lonely Boy, and Paul Anka’s manager had subsequently became the owner of the Ringling Bros. Barnham and Bailey Circus. Roman persuaded him to put an IMAX theatre in Circus World and commissioned Roman to make a film called Circus World in 1974. So, we had a couple of things that kept us going, but the money kept getting thinner and thinner, and we finally had to face the fact we had failed in our efforts to attract a big financier. So in the spring of 1974 we decided to change the company’s strategy. The decision was that the company had to start marketing. That meant we were going to go out and find customers one by one who could put our projectors in theatres such as Ontario Place and Circus World, places that didn’t rely on a chain. Essentially, for the next several years the company was in the business of marketing theatres one by one. The second thing we were trying to do was to make films that explored the medium. For example, somewhere in the 1980s we got interested in trying to take the camera in space.

Subsequently, you produced a series of four IMAX space films: Hail Columbia! (1982), The Dream Is Alive (1985), Blue Planet (1990) and Destiny in Space (1994).

It’s just about exploring what the medium can do. If you look at Roman’s films and my films, you’ll see that it’s a common thread to try and do different things with the medium. People kept telling us nobody would sit still for 90 minutes and watch an IMAX film. We were told that endlessly, and of course our original concept was to make feature films. We’ll never get this breakthrough into feature films if people kept on thinking that you can’t sit for 90 minutes. So we made feature–length films, if not traditional features. One was Rolling Stones at the Max and the other was Titanica, both 90–minute films. One is a concert film and one is a docudrama that Stephen Low made. If you go back in docudrama, one of the first was Circus World in which Roman had lots of dialogue.

Is this the realization of your dream, to make features in IMAX?

The term “feature” has got to be put in quotation marks because what has happened, although we have done two 90–minute films, in fact, our theatres mostly want 40 minutes. Originally this came from planetarium screenings that turn around on a quicker cycle. So even when we are in feature–length theatres like the one in Lincoln Center in New York or the Edwards theatres in Los Angeles, they are very fond of the 40–minute turnaround. They find they can attract a family audience all day, which they can’t in their regular theatres, some of which don’t run during the day. But the IMAX theatre can be run all morning, afternoon and evening. And they love that business of turning family audiences around in 40 minutes, and instead of seeing one 90–minute film, they will stay to see two 40–minute films. This will change, but right now in our industry those 40–minute films are widely shown and we call them “features.”

I want to talk about selling your business to U.S. interest. Was this your only choice?

If you go back to 1967, 30 years ago, none of us was under the illusion that you invent a new medium unless it was a worldwide medium. We understood from the beginning that we must make films that would appeal to audiences worldwide. Very early the idea of making of what we tend to pergoritively call crossover films, and a crossover film meant one that could play just about anywhere. So from day one, it was never our intent to make the medium for Canada alone. However, we probably have the greatest penetration in Canada then anywhere in the world. There are more theatres per population in Canada, but we always saw ourselves as an international company. By the late 1980s, we still had no significant financing. We were still the owners and we all were about turning 60 at that point. We said we’ve got to turn this company over to the new generation of management, and ideally an owner/manager. So we set up a serious search for how to move the company into its next phase. We explored in Canada, Japan and the United States. Brad Wechsler and Richard Gelfond were different from the others we looked at. They were quite a bit younger. They had some motion–picture background, Brad was on the board of MGM, but their main background was in finance. They worked on Wall Street and they could bring the enthusiasm of youth. They just had the drive, maybe the original drive we had ourselves. It worked out with Brad and Rich and with Douglas Trumble (the special–effects wizard). Within weeks they had gone out and got major debt financing, so for the first time there was money in the bank. We never had money in the bank. They put money in the bank immediately and took the company public on the NASDAQ and the Toronto Stock Exchange, all within six or seven months. When people ask me if I made the right decision, I say if I had to make it over again today, I would make the same decision. We have have any alternative. After all those years there were not a lot of people beating down the door. The company has not left Canada, but it was high time it became a public company. My guess in five years Imax will still be a company functioning in Canada and it will be owned on the stock exchanges. I would disagree that we sold our technology to the Americans, I would say we have international funding, which we should have had from day one.

What do you see for the future of the process you set in motion 30 years ago?

It was only when Stephen Low, Colin’s son, made The Last Buffalo for Expo ’90, that it really dawned on us that IMAX 3–D was a major element in our future. With that one film, theatres began to convert to 3–D. I was quite surprised how fast they converted, and to this day we are building more 3–D theatres than 2–D and the trajectory seems to be in that direction. One of the challenges for the company right now is to get more 3–D films into production, so we can supply films for those theatres. So I think for the next few years 3–D will be a major part in the company’s growth, and we are all moving, inevitably, much faster toward computer graphics than we ever imagined.

Back to Graeme Ferguson’s filmography.
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Northernstars logo imageWyndham Wise is the former publisher and editor-in-chief of Take One: Film in Canada. This interview was originally published in Take One, Issue No. 17, in the Fall of 1997. Northernstars.ca acquired the archives of Take One in 2007.

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