DAILY NEWS Aug 16, 2007 7:13 AM - 0 comments

Giant Screen Movie Gets Giant Grant

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2007-08-16
The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $3 million grant for the giant screen film Flight of the Butterflies and its accompanying educational outreach program.

Canada’s Shaftesbury Films and its giant screen unit, SK Films, and the UK’s Principal Large Format received the award, through the Filmmakers Collaborative of Boston, from the NSF’s Informal Science Education program. It is the maximum film grant available from the NSF.

Flight of the Butterflies is a 3D science adventure film that interweaves the migration of the monarch butterflies with the scientific detective story of the decades-long search for their winter habitat.

The film will follow the incredible migration of hundreds of millions of monarchs on one of the most amazing animal journeys on earth as they travel thousands of miles from Canada, through the U.S., to their final destination in the remote mountain region of Mexico’s Michoacan province, returning to the very same area that their great grandparents and great great grandparents departed from eight months previously. A Canadian biologist spent decades trying to determine where the monarchs went in winter – a mystery that was solved with the help of many citizen scientists, tagging and retrieving butterflies over many years, and finally thanks to a U.S. Army code-breaker and his Mexican wife.

Jonathan Barker, SK's Co-CEO and President, said in a release, “Thanks to the National Science foundation, we are thrilled to be able to bring this film one giant step closer to playing on the many giant screens around the world, who are eagerly awaiting this film after the tremendous success of our last giant screen experience, Bugs! Credit goes to the strength of our plan and of our creative and production team, the vision and mandate of the National Science Foundation, and the excellent work of our Co-Executive Producer and NSF Principal Investigator JoAnna Baldwin Mallory.”

Phil Streather, CEO of PLF, added, “Giant screen 3D films are increasingly having to compete with Digital 3D films. But the giant screen has size on its side! We have designed, and will be building, a revolutionary new lens system which will allow us to get amazing 3D images right up close to the butterflies and a host of other characters in their milkweed community. Only the 100 foot wide giant screen can give audiences such a thrilling experience.” He adds “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mike Slee on all my previous films and I am very much looking forward to helping bring his vision for our latest project to the giant screen.”

The NSF’s Valentine Kass adds, “I am very pleased that we have been able to award a grant to Flight of the Butterflies, which was ranked very highly by the panel of expert reviewers. The project promises an outstanding educational film and excellent outreach program. The team’s last film, Bugs!, was very successful. I anticipate the monarch butterfly film, with its fascinating story and spectacular 3D images, will make an even greater contribution to the informal science education community.”

The film is intended to be shot on location in Mexico, southern Ontario and Texas from February through November of 2008, for release by SK Films in the spring of 2009.

Flight of the Butterflies is the follow-up to the hit 3D film Bugs!, which has won virtually all of the giant screen industry film awards, including Best Film, Best Film for Lifelong Learning, Best Cinematography and Best Marketing by a Distributor for SK’s marketing of the film. Flight of the Butterflies is being created by the same award-winning team behind Bugs!: Phil Streather for Principal Large Format, Jonathan Barker for SK Films, director Mike Slee and Director of Photography and Stereographer Sean Phillips. JoAnna Baldwin Mallory (producer of giant screen film Wired to Win) serves as Co-Executive Producer and as Principal Investigator will oversee the project for Filmmaker's Collaborative and NSF. The film’s educational outreach campaign is being created in association with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.

About SK Films
SK Films Inc. is the giant screen unit of Shaftesbury Films Inc., one of Canada’s leading producers of high quality films and award-winning television programming. Shaftesbury established SK together with Robert Kerr, the co-founder and retired CEO of Imax Corporation. SK is an industry leader in the production and distribution of giant screen films and is led by Shaftesbury President/Co-CEO and giant screen industry veteran Jonathan Barker, a founding and current Director of the Giant Screen Cinema Association.

About Principle Large Format Ltd
Principal Large Format (PLF) was founded in 1998 by present CEO Phil Streather and has an exclusive joint venture for film production with Off the Fence of Amsterdam. PLF is a production company dedicated to developing and producing 3D giant screen features, Digital 3D theatrical features and 3D TV. PLF is the UK’s only producer of giant screen films and has produced 3 such films to date as well as the cutting-edge 3D segments for a brand new traveling theatrical extravaganza of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express. Phil Streather is a founding (and current) board director of the Giant Screen Cinema Association and regularly participates on industry panels and presentations.

About the National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent U.S. government agency responsible for promoting science and engineering through research programs and education projects. The NSF promotes and advances scientific progress in the U.S. by competitively awarding grants and cooperative agreements for research and development in the sciences, mathematics and engineering.


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