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Filmmaker aims to save our oceans

The first in a 20-film series about the urgent need for marine conservation is released from Greg MacGillivray, a Laguna Beach-based director of IMAX films.

April 19, 2012|By Imran Vittachi
  • IMAX filmmaker Greg MacGillivray, left, stands with his son Shaun in the company's viewing theater at their Laguna Beach office.
IMAX filmmaker Greg MacGillivray, left, stands with… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

A jumble of vintage cameras and other cinematic treasures that date to the magical beginnings of moving images fills Greg MacGillivray's upstairs corner office.

Next to a staircase in the hallway to his office at the MacGillivray Freeman Films company is a row of cameras, more modern and personal ones that have defined the stages in the Laguna Beach filmmaker's life and long career.

There is his first camera, a Kodak, which MacGillivray acquired at age 10, along with the 8-millimeter camera he used to make his first films during his days as a teenager growing up in Corona del Mar and surfing at Big Corona. And, of course, there's the 16-millimeter Bolex. He and his late buddy and business partner, Jim Freeman, used it to make "Five Summer Stories," a cult classic among the surfing set, and other surfing films in the 1960s and 70s.

Freeman died in a helicopter crash in 1976, but MacGillivray went onto become a filmmaker known for his mastery of bulkier cameras that make films in the high-resolution IMAX documentary format.

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On Friday, MacGillivray, now 66, will reach another highway mile marker in his career with the release of "To The Arctic," the first film in an ambitious campaign to make 20 IMAX films in as many years.

Combined with planned television programs and related content presented through different media, the so-called One World One Ocean campaign aims to reach a billion people and raise public awareness about what MacGillivray and other marine conservationists see as an urgent need to safeguard planet Earth's oceans and their animal and plant life.

The campaign will unfold under the auspices of an umbrella group, the One World One Ocean Foundation, a nonprofit co-founded by MacGillivray and his wife, Barbara, two years ago.

The goal, he explained, is to communicate "to the public through entertainment, through things that are easy to do why the ocean is important and how we can make a big difference at home: how we can choose seafood more carefully, how we can reduce our plastics' use and how we can help support what we like to call fish banks — areas that are set aside to regenerate fish stocks that used to be there, and will rebound and be there again if we just give it a rest for a while."

In his view, for the campaign to be effective, it's critical that it be a sustained and consistent one that engages people in such a way that they continue to pay attention to this environmental cause.

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