News from the Locarno Festival

Douglas Trumbull

Douglas Trumbull



The Stargate Sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey

The Stargate sequence was troubling all the other professionals on the film, and I remembered a technique that had been developed by John Whitney for an abstract sequence at the end of To the Moon and Beyond, depicting a microcosm of energy. I suggested doing something similar for 2001, but in 3D space. When we realized the first picture, I was so amazed that I took the polaroid directly to Kubrick in his office, saying enthusiastically "I think we can do the Stargate!". He looked at the little black and white photo, which was still wet with fixer, and approved the project immediately.

The concept of Silent Running

Silent Running was initially a vehicle for the Drones, which was an idea that came to me after seeing Tod Browning's Freaks. One of the performers was Johnny Eck, a handsome man without a lower body or legs. He walked on his hands, and could do amazing movements. I thought that if I could build a robot suit for a person like him, I could have a great Science Fiction character. I am very proud of this film, and to me it was an experiment in an independent filmmaking project; it was a great learning experience.

On Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind

After Silent Running's success, I was being courted by many studios to direct a number of science fiction films. Steven Spielberg approached me to do the visual effects for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and I had been developing substantial 70mm camera equipment. I was eager to learn from Steven, who had just succeeded with Jaws. It was a terrific experience: Steven respected my directorial skills, and I therefore had a real opportunity to direct the effects in a way that he admired.

New projects and your collaborations

My passion is to develop a new cinematic language that immerses audiences in what will seem to be real – not fictional. To do this I have written, produced, and directed a short film called UFOTOG, about a man who is determined to photograph a UFO using high tech cameras, but he is deeply concerned about government agents who will thwart his project. This is a true story of my own, since I have been building systems to photograph UFOs and have had unsettling encounters with the CIA. So I am telling a story but via a fictional character. You will see what I mean when you see the film.

Trumbull's ultimate goal

The goal is to create a new medium of immersive expression by doing cinematic experimentation and exploration that I truly enjoy. I feel like an adventurer who has found a new continent to explore. By making UFOTOG available for viewing, I hope to find interested partner/investors who will join with me on an adventure that will be great fun, very satisfying creatively, and point the way for others to participate as well.

Elena Gugliazza

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