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I believed that since IMAX is beyond the peripheral range of human vision, it could be used as a tool to take viewers into a dream world. I challenged my mind to think of a concept with interior shots and events that involved shift of focus in shallow depth of field. I came up with an idea of experimenting with a short psychological thriller that I entitled One Night in My Dreams . . .
When I started inquiring about the raw stock, processing, equipment, and the total cost to make the short film, I soon realized this was an expensive dream. The biggest hurdle was that processing 65mm film is not possible in Canada. So I contacted the owner of the IMAX Dome theatre in my native town of Mumbai, India — he also owns a film laboratory — and asked him if he could help with the processing problem. His lab does not handle 65mm film processing, he said, but he would be happy to screen my film in his theatre. I smiled to myself. At least I had a place to show my film!
Next I contacted Consolidated Film Industries (CFI) in London and Gulliver Laboratories in Paris, and Andrew Oran of Lynbrook Productions in Paris, associated with Gulliver for their 65mm processing, sent me a surprising e-mail. Lynbrook would love to help me and asked for the script and the details of the project. I replied that I was planning a two-minute psychological thriller with perhaps a shooting ratio of 1:3. He wrote back that they would support me on my experimental project by providing the processing and laboratory facilities for my film for FREE.
The ball had started rolling, and the next person to help was Graeme Parcher, sales manager of motion picture products for Fuji Photo Film Canada. He called to say he had found two cans of 65mm film (125 tungsten and 250 daylight) that he could offer me for FREE.
So now I had the stock, the lab for processing, the studio space and equipment from the college, and a place to screen the film. All I needed was the IMAX camera. I told Claude Richard of Imax Corporation in Mississauga about my experimental project and the support I was getting, and he said, “We can’t stop you from dreaming.” Imax would lend me their high-speed MK2 camera — for FREE.
The dream was becoming a reality. I told the good news to my teachers and they were happy to provide me with information and technical support. Prof. Harris gave me contacts and literature on the IMAX medium, while Prof. Leiterman nurtured me with his practical experience in this format. I now decided to tell my fellow classmates and get my team ready to shoot on May 4 and 5, 2002. From now on, this IMAX project was no longer just my dream, but the dream of my entire team.
Ron Hurst of Imax extended technical support on the lenses by providing us with the depth-of-field chart on every lens I intended to use, with its angular field of vision. This helped me and my focus puller, Marc Brenzil, who confidently pulled focus on four to five inches of depth of field. With the help of my classmates and professors, I photographed and directed the film with two cans (three minutes each) of 65mm negative stock.
We shot inside a small bedroom of a residence on Sheridan College’s Trafalgar campus and in one of the SCAET studios. We had to accommodate the giant IMAX camera on tracks in the cramped bedroom location, and pump in lots of light to get our exposures. We even shot at 40 fps on the 125T and 250D stock provided by Fuji, and used a Michelle soft filter.
I tried to shoot as one would a regular fiction film, with real locations, common practical lighting, etc., while following certain specifications for the IMAX film format — horizon issues and framing, etc.
The film negatives were sent to Paris for processing, and Andrew Oran provided me with a 35mm pulldown print for editing and post-production. We saw the rushes projected at our college screening room and they looked fine. The rough-cut of the film was edited at Sheridan College, thanks to our post-grad ATVF program director, Vladimir Kabelik.
Who says you need money to make a film? All you need is a dream, because films are dreams come true. And what’s life without an impossible dream?