The Making of 'Silent Running' is an award winning documentary film about the first directorial effort of Douglas Trumbull, the brilliant special effects master who's credits include "2001, A Space Odyssey", "Andromedia Strain", "Blade Runner", "Brainstorm", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Star Trek, The Motion Picture", just to name a few.
It is an intimate portrait of Doug and his work, early in his career. In addition the documentary gives an up close and personal look at the entire production team of 'Silent Running'.
The Making of 'Silent Running' won a number of film festival awards when it was first released in the early '70's, including the CINE GOLDEN EAGLE. At the time video cassette distribution wasn't feasable because VHS didn't exist, so educational distribution (in 16mm print form only) was the only outlet. The documentary has lain dormant since the late '70's when the print distribution agreement with Films Incorporated expired.
In May of 2002, Universal Studios released a "COLLECTORS EDITION" DVD of the full wide-screen version of "Silent Running", including a full version of the above documentary, as well as the usual director's and actor's comentary tracks, collections of still pictures, etc. The 50 minute documentary is a true collectors item for film buffs and science fiction fans and it, alone, is worth the price of the new DVD. You can find this DVD at some retail outlets or you can order it from Yahoo at the following URL:
SYNOPSIS OF THE DOCUMENTARY: What exactly does it take to make a feature length film? According to Doug Trumbull, 29 year old director of SILENT RUNNING, "You get good people and let them make their own decisions." For the hundreds of people involved in creating SILENT RUNNING, most of whom a movie audience never sees, the decisions were difficult. Working under severe budget strictures, the film's crew converted the VALLEY FORGE, a retired aircraft carrier, into a spaceship, and an empty airplane hangar into a lush jungle. The most challenging problem overcome was simulating the miniature robots that played such an important role in the film. How that was accomplished is truly amazing! The outcome of all this imagination and work, from film editor through sound technician, was a science fiction film acclaimed by critics across the country and a documentary about which one critic said: "It is the best 'Making of...' documentary I've ever seen. It has a fresh, imaginative approach and it says intelligent things. Most documentaries on the making of a movie that I've seen could pretty well be summed up as 'various actors goof off on location.'"
SUBJECTS COVERED in the documentary include the old MGM back lot #2 (no longer exists), profiles on Doug Trumbull, the director of photography, the assistant director/unit production manager, the film editor, actor Bruce Dern, the aircraft carrier Valley Forge, the all-terrain vehicles, the surgery sequence, the poker sequence, detailed information on the design, construction and operation of the drones Hewey, Dewey and Louie, construction and photography of the space ship models, the construction and photography of the "Green Set", the fight scene, the music scoring and recording by Peter Schickele and Joan Baez, and more.
The documentary's awards include: CINE Golden Eagle, ATLANTA bronze medal and the IFPA CINDY for outstanding achievement in furthering education in motion picture techniques.
HOW THE DOCUMENTARY GOT MADE:
"The Making of 'Silent Running'", a labor of love by Director/Cinematographer Charles Barbee <www.BarbeeFilm.com>, won a number of film festival awards when it was first released in educational distribution (in 16mm print form only) in the early '70's. At the time cassette distribution wasn't possible because VHS didn't exist yet. Thus it has lain dormant since the late '70's when the 16mm distribution agreement with Films Incorporated expired.
The documentary was produced by Barbee and Tom Piskura and financed by attorney Brian Rohan, through an agreement with Universal Studios and Trumbull-Gruskoff Productions. The agreement with Universal was facilitated by Douglas Trumbull who was eager have someone document his work. Barbee and his partners have repeatedly tried, over the years, to interest Universal Studios in distribution of the documentary on video or laser disk, perhaps even in conjunction with the feature, to no avail. Finally, in 1996 Barbee decided to begin personally distributing it on VHS and advertising it via the internet.
Then, early in 2001, Barbee was contacted by Universal -- at Trumbull's suggestion -- regarding inclusion of the documentary on their planned Colectors Edition DVD release of 'Silent Running'. Thus, the documentary will no longer be available on VHS, but the DVD version will be of much higher quality.
Thanks for your interest and please spread the word that it will soon be available, with a wide-screen version of the feature, on DVD!
UNSOLICITED COMMENTS FROM HAPPY CUSTOMERS:
It's 02am here in france, and i just finished to watch "the making of "silent running""... And wow... It is probably one of the best "making of" ever... If not the best... Just plain facts... On set interviews... And behind the scenes footage... Lots of... Just the way i like it... And the quality of the film (both the way it was done, and the "physical" quality of the film) is just amazing... I am glad you have released it... "silent running" being one of my all time favorites, i am delighted.
I should not say that, but i would have paid 100$, easily, to see that film... And if one day you make it available on the dvd format, even if it is expensive... Well you have a client... And i know other people that would be interested too...
Thank you for bringing such quality to us... I think i can talk for everyone who ordered the tape and that are... Happy... It is a simple word... But it is my state of mind after seing this film... Yes... That's exactly that... I am happy.
If you have other "making of's"... I am client as well...
So... Thanx again.
I just received "The Making Of Silent Running" today. It's a nicesurprise to learn of this documentary after so many years. The film is wonderful, if it's ever released on Laserdisc or DVD in the future (for better preservation than VHS) I would be interested.
I very much enjoyed the documentary on the "Making of Silent Running". It must have been a great experience to see such a film in the making. I still can't believe the budget they used (one million?). I can understand why the documentary received awards. Thanks again.
Got it today and it is fantastic! I could really see how your film could be used as a teaching tool as you showed how a film is all put together. It was everything I wanted but too short! I could have sat through 3 more hours of it. Overall I give it a Solid "A+". Your film is an excellent example of how SR and films of that period were put together. I can't believe it has been 26 years since this was made!
Thanks very much for sending the tape on "Silent Running". Quite enjoyed it, congratulations. Hard to believe it's almost 30 years old! One thing I found remarkable about the your film was how crowded the set seemed.
Silent Running is such a solitary story about lonliness and singularity; and here is a ship full of people. I'd always thought of it as a real low-budget effort like my early features and guess I always expected to see only a handful sized production team. Silent Running, Deliverance and Marathon Man are the three films that pushed me into the film business and seeing your documentary after all these years was very inspiring.
Yee Ha! I got the tape today and was extremely pleased when I watched it!
I got the Video!!! WOW!!! GREAT!!!! Im really happy with it....awesome!!!! LOTS of info...I had NO idea...... Thanks again....
Last Update: March 26, 2008 Web Author: Chuck Barbee
Copyright ©1999 Charles L. Barbee - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED