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Old 06-07-2008, 11:44 AM   #1
Auburn Annie
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Default How TWOTEF was approved for IMAX film

Close encounter with Gordon Lightfoot
It took some work, but the Canadian icon let us use his Great Lakes song

Posted By DAVID LICKLEY

When it came to choosing music for "Mysteries of the Great Lakes," the Lightfoot song Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was a no-brainer -- the most famous song ever written about the lakes, and one that still resonates with people young and old around the world. As it turned out, choosing the song was the easy part. Being chosen by Gordon was a whole different matter.

In the 30 years since releasing the song, he had only let it be used once. All subsequent requests from Hollywood on down have been rejected out of respect for the families of the victims of the tragedy. Their personal grief became a world event to the point where the Fitzgerald is now among the most famous shipwrecks in the world.

It was not a spotlight they craved, and Gordon subsequently made a promise to them that he would not let the song be used against their wishes.

I learned most of this during our first approach to Lightfoot. Our Science North chairman, Risto Laamanen, knew Ronny Hawkins, who is a friend of Lightfoot. Although Gordon thought our project worthy, the answer was no for the reasons mentioned above. That might have been the end of it, except for Tom Farnquist, who runs the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum near Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

When I mentioned to Tom that we had been turned down, he suggested we write to some of the key family members whom he knew well. Through his efforts, we managed to convince them that using the music in the film would be beneficial to the Lakes and not in any way exploitive. Armed with their letters of endorsement, I prepared to approach Gordon for a second time just before Christmas through a contact I had with his manager, Barry Harvey.

With time running out, I called his office as arranged. His receptionist informed me that Barry had died of a heart attack the day before. Offering my condolences, I resigned myself to the fact that it was not to be.

But sometimes fate lends a helping hand. One of our film's sponsors mentioned that he knew a childhood friend of Gordon's, and one thing led to another. In mid-January, I finally got word that Gordon had decided that we could use the song -- with the caveat that he had approval of the final soundtrack, which I agreed to without hesitation.

We were off and running with just enough time to complete the soundtrack before opening.

In the scramble to finish, I didn't have a rough cut to send him until mid-April. By this time, the song and theme had been used in various places throughout the film and was impossible to remove without the jaws of life. In the middle of the final mix, I got a phone call from Gordon's assistant saying that Gordon wanted to talk to me.

With a feeling of panic, I waited for him to come on the line. "David," he said. "I saw the rough cut of your movie. It's very good. I really liked it. I just have one comment on the music."

"What's that Gordon?" I asked, waiting for the sky to fall.

"I think you need to turn down the level a little. It's too loud." said Gordon.

I was at a bit of a loss for words. "Do you mean your vocals?"

"No. The whole thing is too loud. Just bring it down a bit."

Breathing a sigh of relief, I told him we would bring it down. He said he was hoping to see it in an IMAX theatre soon, and the call ended.

So that was that. I think the way we use his music really takes the film to another level, and I'm a bit amazed that it all came together. If it's still too loud, I apologize, but I love the way the music kicks in, backed up by that big, full orchestra, as we bank over the rocky coast of Superior and skim along above the waves.

"Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings in the rooms of her ice water mansion. Lake Michigan steams like a young man's dreams, the islands and bays are for sportsmen."

It has never been said better. Thank you, Mr. Lightfoot.

David Lickley is director of the IMAX film, "Mysteries of the Great Lakes," which is currently playing at Sudbury's IMAX Theatre. This is his final column for The Star on the making of the film.

Article ID# 1064247
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Old 06-07-2008, 12:22 PM   #2
RM
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Default Re: How TWOTEF was approved for IMAX film

Very interesting. Thanks.
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Old 06-07-2008, 02:03 PM   #3
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Default Re: How TWOTEF was approved for IMAX film

I saw the song used once on a show about the Edmund Fitzgerald. I think so it was a show called "Histories Mysteries" on the History Channel, and they just used certain parts of the song, not the whole thing.
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Old 06-08-2008, 11:35 AM   #4
charlene
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Default Re: How TWOTEF was approved for IMAX film

I'm in Florida now but will be making sure i see this when i get back to Toronto..can't wait!
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Old 06-08-2008, 01:02 PM   #5
Jesse Joe
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Default Re: How TWOTEF was approved for IMAX film

Great article Annie thanks for posting it.
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Old 06-08-2008, 01:06 PM   #6
Jesse Joe
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Default Re: How TWOTEF was approved for IMAX film

Char what are you doing in Florida in June ? lol The weather here today is very warm. I thought you would have gone there in January or February,,, Just kidding, Have a great time say HI, to Mickey for me.
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Old 06-09-2008, 11:19 AM   #7
charlene
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Default Re: How TWOTEF was approved for IMAX film

I'm in Sarasota..don't do Disney..last place you'd find me..
it's cooler here than in Toronto-less humidity too.. It's going to 40C in Toronto and last night they had a tornado watch..sheesh..it's gorgoeus here and not as humid as wehn we usually come down at the end of july..the gulf of mexico is 10 mkinutes away and about 88 degrees..it's gorgeous to walk into..the pool is 88 as well..
it's not warm enuf here in jan/feb to swim in the gulf..
nova scotia bound in august..
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Old 06-09-2008, 11:41 AM   #8
Jesse Joe
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Default Re: How TWOTEF was approved for IMAX film

Yes indeed I was following the Tornado watch for Toronto, at one point they were really serious, warning people in the city to take cover go down basement or under stair case. All I saw were trees that had fallen. Maybe your roof in Whitby isn't there any more. Joking,,, lol
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Old 06-09-2008, 05:02 PM   #9
charlene
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Default Re: How TWOTEF was approved for IMAX film

it better be there - i just had a new one put on a couple of years ago!
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: How TWOTEF was approved for IMAX film

So when is this film opening at IMAX?
...or have I (no joke intended,I swear) missed the boat?
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:55 PM   #11
charlene
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Default Re: How TWOTEF was approved for IMAX film

it opened in toronto at the same time Massey was on..lit's not at any u.s. IMAX theatres as far as i know..
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