"Seasons in the Mind"
Canadian 70mm Short Films
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|Written by: Bill
Kretzel, Ottawa, Canada||Date:
in the Mind" (0:22). Filmed in: 35mm 4 perforations, 24 frames per
second. Principal photography in: Panavision. Presented on: The curved
screen in 70mm with 6-track magnetic stereo. Aspect ratio: 2,21:1. Country
of origin: Canada. Production year: 1971. World Premiere:
22.05.1971. German premiere: 09.10.2011|
A Milne-Pearson Production. Produced and Directed by
Peter Pearson. Cinematography Tony Ianzelo. Editor Arla Saare.
Post-Production Supervisor Ken Heeley-Ray. Music Larry Crosley.
Talent Night Sequence.
Mac Beattie. Sound Editor Jim Hopkins. Rerecording Clarke Daprato.
Studio Sound Services Optical Effects.
Film Technique Limited. Filmed in Panavision 35 through Cinevision, Canada.
Colour by Technicolor. Production Assistants Diane Amsden,
A portrait film of Eastern Ontario directed by Peter Pearson who’s films
include the award winner’s like “The Best Damn Fiddler from Calabogie to
Kaladar" (1968) and the classic Canadian feature film, "Paperback Hero"
(1973). "Seasons in the Mind" includes a talent show section set in Arnprior,
Ontario. "Seasons in the Mind" - had a co-director credit:
(who was Pearson's business partner and had been art director for Best
|More in 70mm reading:|
Canadian 70mm Short Films
The Lost Dominion 70mm
"Seasons", A Short Film in 70mm
large-frame motion picture exhibition in Canada 1954-1974
Large format in
frame blow-up from "Seasons in the Mind". Color restoration by Schauburg
Commissioned as one of four large-format short subject productions for
Ontario Place, Toronto - a lakeside recreation and entertainment complex
developed by the provincial government to showcase culture and tourism,
where it premiered to the public on May 22, 1971 as part of the daily
repertory screening schedule to September 6, 1971 (and also in the spring of
1972) in Cinesphere, an 800-capacity film venue designed for the first
permanent IMAX installation.
Michael Milne: ....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. 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!
Read full story
Newspaper / Magazine Articles (transcribed)
Ontario Place film more poem than documentary
By Werner, Hans
Telegram-Toronto / 24 May 1971 / page 39
frame blow-up from "Seasons in the Mind". Color restoration by Schauburg
Whatever the Ontario government had in mind when it commissioned "Seasons in
the Mind" now running at the Cinesphere of Ontario Place, “documentary”
hardly describes it. Poem, maybe Elegaic.
Created by Michael Milne and Peter Pearson, the film is in 70 mm, running
for 22 minutes, and uses a 12-track stereo system. The team’s previous
production of "The Best Damn Fiddler from Calabogie to Kalladar" won the
Canadian Film of the Year award in 1969.
Following the cycle of the four seasons, the deep-rooted interdependence of
life and nature, "Seasons in
the Mind" is a mental image, a vague memory,
something to haunt us in our asphalt and steel. It seeks to express the
team’s respect for the land and people of Eastern Ontario.
But first impressions are misleading. The vestigial, isolated quality of the
amateur night in Arnprior sequence seems to lay an intense focus on the
awkwardness of the participants, and we city-slickers may be tempted to
But when a single snapping-turtle crossing the highway holds up an endless
line of suburbanites on their compulsive drive to the cottage country,
nature laughs at the city slickers.
This portrait of the people of the region makes us feel the rootlessness of
our own existence.
It is a romantic view of the land, and parts of it, like the harvest
sequence, suggest the muted force of a terrible nature very reminiscent of
the landscapes of Thomas Hardy. As a poem, a haunting memory, the film
Magic film makers on a real low budget
Telegram-Toronto / 27 May 1971 / page 59
Kate Reid, so the story goes, 18 months ago was judging a beauty contest
with Ontario Place chief James Ramsay and, in her inimitable fashion, said
something like this:|
“If you guys at Ontario Place know what you’re doing, you’ll hire Mike Milne
and Peter Pearson to make a movie, they’re terrific. Take it from me.”
Ramsay did just that.
Within several days, Milne and Pearson, Toronto movie makers who keep a low
profile despite their considerable credits - including nine Canadian Film
Awards in 1969, seven of them for "Best Damn Fiddler", a compelling National
Film Board drama starring Kate Reid - were in Ramsay’s office negotiating a
Ramsay had a huge map of the province and he told the pair he was
commissioning a series of “regional spectaculars” for showing in Cinesphere,
the Ontario Place bubble, and would they pick an area.
Eastern Ontario had been the setting for Best Damn Fiddler, the pair felt at
home there and chose it. Their movie, completed on a $270,000 budget, the
first here with a 12-track stereo sound system. It is being screened daily
from this week on in Cinesphere.
It is one of six to be shown in rotation until Ontario Place closing day
Oct. 11, free of charge.
“There was no sense,” Milne said yesterday, “in trying to duplicate
Christopher Chapman’s feat, so we set out to make something that wasn’t just
another travelogue. We tried to get at the area’s most important element,
and we found that to be isolation... people are living mostly on farms
separated from each other... even industry is spread out, all this except
Their movie, "Seasons in
the Mind", captures the four seasons in eastern
Ontario and matches their central colors to human moods and the
Originally, Ramsay told then to “go out and make the biggest movie in the
world,” because then Cinesphere was to have shown movies projected on the
wall and ceiling, but costs proved impractical and finally only one mammoth
screen was installed.
“The 20-minute film,” Pearson said, “is the hardest film form in the world.
You have to show something of the land, something of the people, the
seasons, a range of areas and activities and cram them all in 20 minutes.
“It is the only film form indigenous to Canada. It is the ‘short’
documentary. It was really difficult to find a form of doing it that would
make everything work. The film represents our attitudes over the past five
years about the area.”
There are technically tricky sequences - one involving figure skaters
against a black background with no ice beneath them; simple ones - a huge
turtle blocking a highway causing a traffic jam; and nostalgic ones -
recollecting the area’s past in memories of the church and rural days.
"Seasons in the Mind" is in the 70 mm process projected 75 feet wide by 35
feet high, leaving the Imax film "North of Superior" to be the biggest in the
Milne and Pearson share one problem with the other Ontario Place
film-makers. No credits are allowed at the end of their efforts. Ramsay
personally has ordered them banned.
“Ramsay decided,” according to one Ontario Place source, “that credits would
take a minute each and that could go up to five minutes longer in clearing
the theatre out for the next crowd. That kind of time would be valuable
considering the crowds still expected.”
Milne and Pearson don’t need that anonymity, now that their Ontario Place
contract barring them from working on any other movie for a 12-month period
“Tell the world that we’re unemployed,” grumbled Pearson.
They are, but their company is breaking up with Millen returning to entirely
sponsored film making and Pearson left to his plans of directing feature
movies. The pair has screen rights to the Sinclair Ross novel, As for Me and
My House, and an original script by Charles Israel.
Now if Kate Reid would only tell the financiers that Milne and Pearson are
terrific, take it from her, Pearson could get back to the promise of Best
How Milne-Pearson Productions made film for Ontario’s Cinesphere
By Walker, Dean
Canadian Photography / Volume 2 Number 5 / June 1971 / page 34
No doubt it was once all comparatively simple. Movie screens came in one
size, films stocks in one speed, sound on one track.|
But today the complexities and possibilities of film-making are infinite,
and to explore them all demands not only art and imagination, but also
knowledge of chemistry, mathematics and electronics. Certainly all are
involved in making film for a theatre such as the Cinesphere.
Glowing like a moon on the Toronto waterfront, the Cinesphere is the
dome-shaped theatre of Ontario Place, where the provincial government is out
to prove once again that Ontario remains a place to stand - and not just in
line for unemployment benefits.
Milne-Pearson Productions (Peter Pearson, Michael Milne) landed the contract
to make one of the Cinesphere movies, and the story that follows is
extracted from the producers’ own account of how they thought through the
creative problems and, with the help of Toronto specialists, coped with the
The Cinesphere itself is a startling theatre wired to play 24-track
stereophonic sound, faced with an eighty-by-eighty foot screen, equipped to
handle 16mm, 35mm, 70mm and IMAX. Unlike the one-movie pavilions of Expo 67,
this is a permanent theatre with a changing program. The government asked
Milne-Pearson to make a
Cinesphere film about eastern Ontario, a triangle of
seventeen counties embraced by the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers.
Their first problem in the film’s conception was to develop a style
compatible with both the most modern film theatre in the world and an area
of Ontario that is more traditional than futuristic. They wanted to focus on
specific people and events without locking the film into a documentary
reality form: “to elevate certain sequences to the level of impression,
memory, fantasy, or dream, without losing a sense of what in fact our
subject matter was.”
As they saw it, the challenge was to find a form that would link one
isolated event to another, and move from one style to another.
Eventually they settled on three devices to create a visual unity.
The first was color. “In our shooting we emphasized the blue tones of
winter, the green of spring, the red of summer, and the yellow of fall.” But
color alone was not enough structural glue, so they followed the seasons in
order which let them join sequences which otherwise had no natural edit.
The they decided to relate the seasons to specific life experiences (birth,
learning, work, old age, death). “It’s important to emphasize that we were
more interested in the intrinsic nature of the event than its symbolic
importance. We were looking for those specific moments which would best
typify the lives of the people of eastern Ontario.”
Sequences with spiritual affirmation (learning, for example) fitted together
comfortably. Thus in the spring sequence it was easy to combine scenes of a
young girl learning to ride her bicycle, a new-born colt learning to walk,
and a young solider learning his drill routine.
Four years earlier, while shooting "The Best Damn Fiddler from Calabogie to
Kaladar", CBC’s big award-winner. The same film-makers had regularly dropped
into the Renfrew Hotel for talent night. The memories of those evenings gave
then the idea for filming a talent night in Arnprior. The isolation of the
winter rural landscape led to a sequence of figure skaters alone on a lake.
The dialects of the regions and the reminiscences of old people became the
basis of a “nostalgia” sequence. Traditional values of family, church and
state provided the basic ingredients for a sequence on the harvest.
There was not enough money to make the movie in 65mm so they settled for
Panavision anamorphic 35mm. This let them do all the lab and optical work in
Canada, except for the final Cinesphere release prints - 70mm blow-ups by
Technicolor in Hollywood.
Optical effects became very important and account for fifty percent of the
finished film. “We reserved effects chiefly for sequences which would evoke
impressions, memories, fantasies, or dreams.” Effects include:
super-imposition of high contrast images over continuous tone scenes;
combinations of freeze-frames and live action; color changes within a scene;
moving mattes; aerial zooms.
The Talent Night sequence in its final form, has various entertainers
appearing and disappearing against a black field. At one point there are
four sets of step dancers shown full figure in each corner of the frame,
with a girl in medium-close-up singing in the centre. Although each set of
dancers was filmed separately no frame lines can be seen.|
To achieve this effect, the original negative was over-exposed by 1˝ stops
then processed normally. This increased the contrast ratios while, to the
partners’ delight and contrary to expectations, not creating unacceptable
grain. Each act was shot as a full-frame figure against a black velvet
The editor then sat down with a film strip projector and drew frame-by-frame
charts to plot the movements of each figure or group. She then prepared
timing charts for the opticals to keep them in sync with the master
three-track stereo recording of the sequence. Film Technique made specially
timed interpositives of all the footage and then printed each frame
according to the charts for a final color-balanced optical negative for
producing release prints.
A figure skating sequence starts out with an abstract forest effect achieved
with nine black-and-white still photographs of trees against a blue field.
The camera tracks through the tress and ends up discovering figure skaters
in their leaps, lifts and spirals.
At first the trees and figure skaters were conceived as two separate
sequences but were put together in the editing room because the similar
styles combined so easily. The forest photographs were taken to high
contrast, and paper positives were made. The aerial tracking effect was
created with the animation camera and a computer. Each tree was photographed
separately and combined on the optical camera.
To film the figure skaters, the partners built a skating rink in the middle
of Lake Simcoe and shot on a an overcast day to eliminate the horizon. The
skaters were dressed and made-up in black, and the action shot in
slow-motion on black and white.
The negative was underexposed 1˝ stops and overdeveloped by 2 stops. High
contrast positives from the overly contrasty negatives cleaned up most of
the minor flaws in the original material.
The final composition included the misty blue background and the sun. “We
tried several different background effects before finally deciding on a
pick-up of a beautiful yellow autumn mist that cameraman Tony Ianzelo had
shot one morning.” Film Technique color-corrected the interpositives from
yellow to blue-green.
“Because the mist negative was too short for the action, we did a series of
dissolves on the negative and created a loop. Another shot, an undulating
sun-star through the trees was an upside-down blow-up of the sun in still
water. All the high-contrast components were then added on the optical
camera and the sequence completed as one piece of film. Film Technique in
Toronto handled all the optical work under the supervision of Brian Holmes.
The sound track like the optical effects was designed to be more evocative
than imitative. Larry Crosley wrote a score in four parts - one for each
season. Jim Hopkins plotted and edited the sound effects on more than a
hundred mono tracks. At Studio Sound, Clarke Daprato had to mix in four
reels each with 25 mono effects tracks, a three-track sync for two
sequences, plus the twelve tracks of Crosley’s original music. The result is
an unusual and complicated sounds tracks that adds considerably to the
Cinesphere experience. Six of the tracks are carried magnetically on the
film and the other six on a 35mm magnetic dubber synchronized to the
The producers sum up: “Whether in fact the film expresses the spirit of
eastern Ontario is a decision for the people of the region to make. The film
has none of the landmarks of the region, no Parliament Buildings, no St.
Lawrence River, no changing the guards at Fort Henry. But we hope it
expresses our deep respect for the people of eastern Ontario, who have an
enduring sense of their land, its seasons, and, most of all, of themselves.”
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