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Adventures in Wild California

On Location With Adventures in Wild California

bigImage To The Sea: Crashing Surf at Maverick’s Beach

Production of ADVENTURES IN WILD CALIFORNIA began fittingly at Maverick’s, the infamous stretch of surfing beach in Half Moon Bay, California where cold, hard seas rage in winter-time, producing some of California's biggest waves, some of them the size of small mountains. At Maverick's Beach, a rare breed of surfers dares to ascend these temporary summits of surf, taking the art of waveriding to new extremes.
     This was territory close to filmmaker Greg MacGillivray's heart, since he himself is a highly respected surfer and surfing cinematographer.  He oversaw the shoot - a profile of Jeff Clark, the bold wave-rider who discovered Maverick's Beach and now uses it as a testing ground for his ability to transcend panic and stay calm in the belly of the ocean's unpredictable fury.
     It wasn't exactly a leisurely start because Mavericks' only "goes off" a few times each year, usually with less than 48 hours notice. Incoming winter storms produce the six-story high walls of water that elite big-wave surfers crave. For the courageous and lucky, this means the ride of their life. For the unlucky, it means being dashed into the Boneyard, a rocky shore where surfers have been pinned for life-threatening minutes.

bigImage The Inner Life of Trees: Entering a Giant Sequoia

The giant sequoias of Sequoia National Forest are the tallest living things on earth, and can live some 2,000 years. The trees can only grow in California, the one place in the world their complex requirements are met:  moist yet sandy soil, moderate temperatures and generous precipitation. 
Just prior to production, botanist Dr. Steven Sillett had heard a rumor that high up in the world’s second largest sequoia – the 265-foot ‘Washington Tree’ – might be hidden a massive cavity forming a cave inside the living tree.  No one knew for sure if was true, but Sillett was determined to find out, and he invited the IMAX crew along.
To do so, Sillett would have to climb the tree, search for the cavity and if possible enter the tree.  The WILD CALIFORNIA team knew if they were going to accompany him, they would have to ascend with Dr. Sillett and bring the IMAX camera.  Big wall climbers and Yosemite Search and Rescue veteran Werner Braun were brought in to help rig intricate lines to haul the camera to the top of the forest canopy.  And because carrying minimal weight was vital, the team used the same special, lighter-weight IMAX camera designed by MacGillivray Freeman to scale Mt. Everest.
But the biggest challenge came when Dr. Sillett made his shocking discovery:  the tree did indeed have a cavity, one that seemed to tunnel into the tree for 130 feet.  No camera had ever been that far inside a living tree – but Greg MacGillivray hoped to change all that.  He immediately had special lights and equipment brought into the National Park, insisting that someone from the team sleep beside the tree to watch over the precious technology – and protect it from Sequoia’s renowned bears!
Once the IMAX® camera disappeared into the "tree cave" no one knew what would happen.  The cave grew more and more narrow towards the bottom, nearly squeezing out the camera and cameraman, but after seven incredible hours, they emerged victorious.

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Produced by MacGillivray Freeman Films. Producers: Greg MacGillivray, Mark Krenzien, and Alec Lorimore. Director: Greg MacGillivray. Distributor: MacGillivray Freeman Films. Executive Producer: K2 Communications. Writer: Mark Krenzien. Director of Photography: Brad Ohlund. Editor: Jim Foster. Narrator: Jimmy Smits. Original Score: Lindsay Buckingham and Brian Wilson.


BMZ Reviews:

Westward Education and Ultimate Sports to the IMAX® By Ross Anthony

Outside Reviews:

"A new IMAX film captures the majesty and the minutiae of the Golden State" By Joe Baltake, Sacramento Bee

"Going Wild in California" By Bob Thompson, Toronto Sun

"Adventures in Wild California" By Peter Stack, San Francisco Chronicle

"Adventures in Wild California" By Chris Gore, Film Threat

"Adventures in Wild California" By Mike Kerrigan, BoxOffice Magazine

Related Articles

Bryan Iguchi: Wild Californian By MacGillivray Freeman Films (Oct 2001)

Big Movie Spotlight: Greg MacGillivray By BMZ Staff (Nov 2000)

FREE FALLING: MTV Host Jumps for WILD CALIFORNIA By Troy Hartman (Summer 2000)

Jeff Clark Charges GIANT Waves By BMZ Staff (Oct 10, 2000)

BMZ User Reviews

Rating: Excellent
Posted by:
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Rating: Excellent
Posted by: louie22
Adventures featured some of the best film work I have seen in a while. I particularly enjoyed the sky surfing and big-wave surfing portions. However, the Disney part seemed a little too "branded" for my liking. Overall, I thought it was a fantastic movie and will probably end up seeing it again. ... Read More >>

Rating: excellent
Posted by: landrith1
Wow! Some pretty amazing stuff in here . . . from surfing 40 foot waves to surfing in the sky. And a cool Lindsey Buckingham soundtrack to boot! ... Read More >>