Big-screen partnership

Filmmaker recalls journeys with Imax

Getting Imax cameras into outer space or down into the ocean's depths has long been the job of veteran Canadian director and producer Toni Myers.

"That's the beauty of the (Imax) medium: It takes you where you can't go," she says.

For example, Myers and Imax have collaborated with NASA to capture space footage from the Space Shuttle or the Space Station, starting with the 1985 documentary "The Dream Is Alive," which she wrote and edited.

Her career with Imax came about quite by chance after she bumped into eventual Imax co-founder Graeme Ferguson at a 1965 party on 34th Street in New York.

Ferguson hired her on the spot to help edit "Polar Life," a multi-screen installation he made for Expo '67 in Montreal.

Myers' challenge was editing a film to unspool on 11 synchronized, rotating projectors. "It was like riding a stage coach," she recalls.

Exhausted after finishing the project, Myers flew to London for a short holiday, and stayed for six years. While there, she made early music videos for the BBC and the Beatle's company, Apple, as part of Tattooist International, a group of experimental filmmakers.

"We didn't know it then. We just took artists out and did something wacky," Myers recalls.

She also edited John Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1968 experimental film "Rape," using footage from cameraman Nick Nolan as he pursued a young Austrian actress down London streets and alleys and finally into her apartment as if pursuing an angry celebrity.

Myers recalls the final footage in which Nolan panned round the apartment to find where the actress was hiding. "Suddenly, the bathroom door flies open, and there's nonstop hurling of invective, pillows and blankets being tossed at the camera. It was quite riveting," she remembers.

Upon return to Canada, Myers went on to make 14 Imax films as part of a team led by Ferguson, including space-themed films like "Destiny in Space"; "Blue Planet," which she also narrated; "L-5: First City in Space"; and "Mission to Mir."

She also directed, produced and wrote the Tom Cruise-narrated "Space Station 3D," which has grossed nearly $100 million.

Myers is at work on "Hubble 3D," the life story of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Myers suggests the next frontier for Imax might well be closer to home, in nanotechnology film.

She points to an earlier Imax film, the 1985 3-D documentary "We Are Born of Stars," by Roman Kroitor, which followed the origins of life from the smallest atomic nuclei to more complex DNA structures, as a forerunner for the future.