Besides being a life-long fan of both comic-strips and animated movies, producer, IVAN REITMAN, felt his greatest asset to the production was the very fact that he wasn't an animator, but a "live action filmmaker," enabling him to avoid the pitfalls of standard animation and simply apply the principles of live action.
Reitman, who says he had been bored by almost "every animated movie I had seen since I was ten," realized that "animators get lost in the movement, backgrounds and design, forgetting about the story and the characters." He adds that since Walt Disney, "those that followed him were good at making drawings move, but they were not particularly good as producers or directors."
"As soon as I got involved in 'Heavy Metal,' my number one priority was to try to give the film a first class screenplay. That's really the art of it." For the screenplay, he chose long-time associates from Canada who also worked with him on "Meatballs" and "Stripes," Dan Goldberg and Len Blum. The two developed a strong coherent storyline.
One obstacle still blocked "Heavy Metal's" transition to the screen: the animation process. Full animation is staggering, mind-numbing work; it requires a distinct individual drawing for every two frames. Reitman employed hundreds of artists for thousands of hours to meet the vigorous requirements of full animation. To enhance that effect, he resurrected the multiplane camera, a technique not used since Disney's "Pinnochio."
He also constructed full scale landscapes which were filmed by computer-controlled cameras as in "Star Wars." The film from this shoot was broken down into individual photographs to guide the animators in redrawing and repainting individual cells. This elaborate process gave an extraordinary depth to certain prominent traveling and flying sequences. Reitman hired fifteen full-time sound editors and one of North America's most renowned synthesizer experts, Peter Jermyn, to assure the sound had a depth and completeness equal to full animation. This is "Heavy Metal's" strongest asset: the incorporation of a timeless style.
Throughout his career, Reitman has taken common American experiences -- from attending summer camp ("Meatballs") and joining the military ("Stripes") to being part of the sophisticated art world and legal community ("Legal Eagles") from seeking the supernatural ("Ghostbusters 1 & 2") to seeking a family ("Kindergarten Cop," "Twins," and "Junior") -- and found what makes them funny. In 1993, he broke new ground with "Dave," which turned the very political fabric of a nation into a compelling and relevant comedy of ideas and hope. In his latest film "Space Jam," starring Michael Jordan, producer Reitman will be able to use his expertise in animation as well as live action. The movie will be released this year.
Reitman has helped launch the film careers of such great comic actors as John Belushi and John Candy as well as Rick Moranis, John Larroquette, Harold Ramis and Andrea Martin. He also has encouraged many acclaimed dramatic actors, including Robert Redford, Debra Winger, Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Kline and Emma Thompson to express their comic talents.
As a producer, Reitman brought a new style of free-wheeling comedy to the fore with National Lampoon's "Animal House," the light-hearted comedy "Casual Sex?" and the enormously popular family features "Beethoven" and "Beethoven's 2nd." In 1984 he was honored as Director of the Year by the National Association of Theater Owners and was presented with a Special Achievement Award at the Canadian Genie awards in 1985.
Reitman was born in Czechoslovakia and fled with his family to Canada at the age of four. At Ontario's McMaster University, where he found himself among some of the most outrageous comic minds of our times, the aspiring filmmaker produced and directed several television shorts that aired on Canadian television. He next produced a live television show called "Greed" with a young Dan Aykroyd as its announcer.
In Canada, Reitman also produced David Cronenberg's first films, "They Came From Within" and "Rabid." Reitman continued his producing career with "Spellbound" for the Toronto Stage, which evolved into the long-running Broadway hit "The Magic Show" starring Doug Henning. He went on to produce the off-Broadway hit, "The National Lampoon Show," starring John Belushi. He later returned to the Broadway stage to earn a Tony nomination for directing the musical "Merlin," which he also produced. He directed his first major feature in 1979 with "Meatballs," which launched his career and that of another young comedic talent, Bill Murray.
Currently, Reitman heads Northern Lights Entertainment, a film and television production company. For television, the company produced the Emmy-nominated children's show "The Real Ghostbusters" and the HBO telefilm "The Late Shift," based on the nonfiction book by Bill Carter, among others.
Leonard Mogel, executive producer of "Heavy Metal," is the co-founder and chairman of the executive committee of National Lampoon, Inc.. His career in publishing dates back to 1951, when he founded Diners Club magazine. He has also been publisher of Weight Watchers magazine, Liberty, Cheetah and National Lampoon. In 1974, he imported Heavy Metal magazine from France and gave it a more international sensibility. In a short time it reached monthly circulation of over one million and remains immensely popular today, although he sold the publication five years ago. Mogel, an associate professor of communications at New York University, wrote the standard journalism textbook, The Magazine: Everything You Need to Know to Make It in the Magazine Business (Prentice Hall).
For his company's first film, "National Lampoon's Animal House," which grossed $200,000,000 and was produced by Matty Simmons and Ivan Reitman, Mogel published the illustrated movie novel with the same name. He has also published books in conjunction with the release of "Aliens," "The Rose" and "1941."
Gerald Potterton, director of "Heavy Metal," coordinated the efforts of
more than 1000 artists, animators and technicians from 17 countries and was often in production simultaneously in five cities: Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, London and Ottawa. As one of the most creative talents to emerge from the National Film Board of Canada, he worked on "Animal Farm" and "Yellow Submarine" prior to "Heavy Metal."
Producers Reitman and Potterton established the consistent overall vision for the movie, while screenwriters Dan Goldberg and Len Blum (who authored "Meatballs" and "Stripes" for Reitman) created the strong, coherent storyline
Daniel Goldberg is currently producing "Space Jam," "Commandments," and Howard Stern's "Private Parts," all to be released later this year and serves as exec producer for HBO's "The Late Shift." Goldberg, a longtime colleague of Reitman's, executive produced "Junior" and was second unit director on "Beethoven's 2nd" and "Junior." He wrote "Space Hunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" as well as wrote and directed "Feds."
They began their successful partnership as students at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. During his freshman year, Goldberg appeared in the play "Lil Abner," which Reitman directed. The pair joined forces to make a 23 minute spoof, "Orientation," about freshman life at the university. The comedy short was distributed by 20th Century Fox and broadcast through-out Canada by CBC-TV. While at McMaster, Goldberg also produced and directed another film, "Day Off." In addition to co-writing "Heavy Metal," Goldberg also served as post-production supervisor on the film.
Len Blum - Rock music's loss became motion picture's gain when, through a series of career adventures, Blum found himself in a room with long-time Canadian buddy Dan Goldberg writing what was to become the screenplay for the 1979 blockbuster hit, "Meatballs." They followed with "Stripes," "Beethoven's 2nd," "Feds" and "Space Hunter." Their latest collaboration is Howard Stern's runaway best-seller, "Private Parts," which is to be released this year.
Michael Gross, a brilliant magazine art director/graphics designer familiar with the sci-fi fantasy genre, was hired to supervise the various creative teams to assure a continuity of style.
Copyright © 1996, Columbia Pictures Inc. All rights reserved.