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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 02, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 14Apr00

Summarized by Gregor McHardy

LDS Film Maker Called GodFather Of IMAX
Deseret News 31Mar00 A2
By Jeff Vice: Deseret News movie critic

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- You've most likely heard of the name of Keith Merrill, director of many films made by the Church, but did you know that he is a big name in the biggest of all movie theatre's? Big meaning IMAX, that is.

Merrill was the director of the 1985 IMAX documentary, "Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets," one of the earliest in the format and one of the most successful of all time. "When people go to the Grand Canyon, they're there for a day at most," he said. "They take a look around, and maybe if they're adventurous, they take the tour down the canyon. But there's a lot more to it than just that." The resulting 40-minute documentary - a blockbuster by large-screen industry standards - has been showing ever since at the Grand Canyon IMAX Theatre, and it has helped define a new genre

Merrill got lots of glory for the movie, but little cash. After being forced out of the company that made the film he said "It was both good and bad," he said. "On one hand, I helped create a whole new genre of film, and on the other hand, I definitely didn't get paid for my share of the box office (receipts)." But that didn't stop him from continuing his role in making IMAX films. He has worked with many other big names including Reid Smoot, Scott Swofford, Sam Cardon, and Bruce Neibaur. "(Merrill) certainly is the godfather of the IMAX movie," said Leigh von der Esch, executive director of the Utah Film Commission. "He's picked up a reputation as a great director in that format, and in doing so, jump-started many local careers almost single-handedly."

Merrill is also the producer/director of "The Testaments: Of One Fold and One Shepherd," produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and now showing at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. According to Merrill, it's probably his IMAX work - rather than "Legacy" - that allowed him to make "The Testament."


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