I was recently quoted in your large format tech wish list (‘Big Dreams’, December, 1999), commenting on ‘pie in the sky’ ideas for future large format equipment. While putting into context the relatively low-tech state of most 2-D 15-perf cameras, I am very sorry if it came across as a put down of the existing technology. There are many outstanding designers and engineers at IMAX Corp. and at MSM designs who have created these cameras. While their features may seem lacking when compared to an Arriflex 535, they are nonetheless engineering feats in themselves. One only has to consider the size of the negative traveling through the gate, and the extreme conditions that large format cameras normally operate under. I hope that I have not in any way diminished the work of the people who conceived of, and created, these amazing machines.
Chris Blum, MacGillivray Freeman Films
Laguna Beach, CA
I was intrigued to read on your ‘Back Page’ that Canada’s WTN edited Private Dicks: Men Exposed to remove sections with the media hoaxer Alan Abel. That was news to my partner Meema Spadola and me who produced and directed the documentary. If anyone had asked our opinion, we would have opposed the decision.
Abel is a notorious media hoaxer whose past victims include the New York Times and National Public Radio. We didn’t discover he was the ‘Bruce’ in our show until after HBO’s premiere. At that point, we changed his chyron to read ‘professional hoaxer’ for future broadcasts. We chose not to remove him altogether, as WTN reportedly did, because his presence is an integral part of the program. Besides, if he was hoaxing us about having a small penis (he’s offered no proof), it’s a memorable commentary about the doc’s subject, penis obsession.
WTN’s cavalier editing is a depressing reminder of how most documentary-makers lose control of their work in the international market. It’s very rare for a programmer to even notify filmmakers when their shows premiere. Maybe they think we don’t care. But why wouldn’t a filmmaker care deeply about reaching an audience? While we’re grateful to broadcasters for investing in our programs, they should recognize it’s still our work at stake.
Thom Powers, Sugar Pictures
New York, NY