Douglas Trumbull's Sci-Fi Epic To "Reinvent Cinema"

Or at least, that's what the rather bullish filmmaker Douglas Trumbull thinks. He's also going to beat Peter Jackson and James Cameron along the way. Then again, this is a man with a serious pedigree when it comes to special effects and Hollywood classics, so perhaps he's got a point. Trumbull's a man with serious form. 2001. Blade Runner. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I could go on, or you could just go read his IMDB listing. In simple parlance, he knows his stuff -- and he's certainly not afraid to speak out. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Trumbull let rip on the inefficiencies of the current Hollywood system

"I think it would be not difficult to talk to the management of any major studio and ask them what a double-bladed shutter is in a 35mm projector and they wouldn’t know what you were talking about. If you asked them how many foot-lamberts of brightness they see on the screen, they might not know what you’re talking about. On the exhibition side, we have a similar problem in that the owners and operators of theaters all over the country and all over the world also have no technical infrastructure and rely on their purveyors, their sound-system purveyors, to deliver projectors to their theaters. So there’s no continuity and no connective tissue that’s saying, how do we make movies better?"

He also doesn't feel the current structure should be pumping effects into anything but effects-laden movies.

"If people are going to go out, put gas in their car, go to all of the inconvenience of getting a babysitter or whatever they have to do to make the decision to go out to a movie theater, they’d better see something truly spectacular."

What's he developing right now? It sounds… spectacular. Or possibly already over-hyped.

"The screen is going to be so big it’s like a window into another world. I’m going way beyond anything that Peter Jackson and Jim Cameron have been doing or are thinking of, and I don’t expect to get traction from investors until I can show what it is. Because no one’s ever seen it before, and no one can imagine what it would be like. "

"I can only say that it’s a 200-years-in-the-future science fiction space epic that’s going to address very big, lofty issues, like man’s place in the universe, and how our contact with an extraterrestrial civilizations that are so mind-bogglingly in advance of our own that it will go into some of the same territory that 2001 went into, and it’s going to do it in a very plausibly scientific way, not a fanciful way. "

This is unlikely, however, to be your regular Hollywood blockbuster, at least in one sense.

"I did this ten years ago, fifteen years ago. I was developing all of this technology and I came to Hollywood and I had a 50-page brochure and I had a demonstration reel, and I went to the heads of production at every major studio, and I did not get one phone call in return. And that’s when I realized that I was just barking up the wrong tree; talk is cheap, and I feel that I’ve got to just do it, I’ve got to find a way to do it, and if that means I have to do it outside of the industry and find independent venture capital or private equity financing or any number of high net-worth individuals; there’s a million ways to do it. "

There's an awful lot more in the original interview; well worth a read (but bring a large cup of coffee for the ride) [Hollywood Reporter]

Picture by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images