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Back in 2002, I interviewed composer Maribeth Solomon, who, with husband Micky Erbe, have scored most of the IMAX space films, right up to Space Station 3D.

In fact, it’s probably safe to say the composing team has written the most IMAX scores out of anyone. They are impeccably versed in the nuances of the format, and began their association with the company with its first film, North of Superior (1971), which was also edited by Toni Myers.

An accomplished editor, producer, writer, and director, Myers has seen IMAX progress to its current state as a large film format with films – short, medium, and feature-length – now screening in major commercial movie houses. Her best-known films are space-themed movies (Blue Planet, Hail Columbia!) as well as Rolling Stones Live: At the Max (1991), on which she served as co-editor, but it’s the recent underwater 3D diptych, Deep Sea 3D (2006) and now Under the Sea 3D (2009), that are getting attention for the fine balance between adventure, edification, and interactive fun.

Warner Bros. distributes a number of Myers’ work on DVD (there’s an all-space IMAX DVD boxed set, as well as the first trickle of some of those films on Blu-ray), but their involvement with the two underwater 3D films as sponsors has arguably brought more attention because of their commercial engagements outside of the more familiar museum venues.

Our conversation covers the themes of ecology and preservation within Myers’ work, and her collaborative relationship with composers Maribeth Solomon and Micky Erbe.



Under the Sea 3D teaser



Mark R. Hasan:  You’ve worked Maribeth Solomon and Micky Erbe for many years, and I wonder if you can explain why they're so well-suited to score IMAX films, like your latest production, Under the Sea 3D (2009)?

Toni Myers: Our original film was North of Superior, which was made for the opening of Ontario Place in 1971, and at that point, that was my first encounter with them. We had a tiny budget, and they brought an incredible versatility… I asked them, ‘Please, can you something with this score?’ and I was enormously impressed with their adaptability to various ‘wild’ situations.

On that film we had Maribeth’s dad, Stanley Solomon; he played on Unders the Sea, and he’s ninety-two now.

MRH: What instrument did he play?

TM: He was Concert Master of the TSO [Toronto Symphony Orchestra] for years, and has played with Isaac Stern and everybody. He’s a viola, and he was first viola of the TSO. We also had Maribeth’s brother Lenny (he’s a fiddle player, and has a group called Bowfire), and Brian Leonard, who had played the percussion on North of Superior.

MRH: When I talked to people about that film, they always remember the opening, where there’s a driving percussion set to a small, standard 1.33:1 image, and then with a bang, the entire IMAX screen pops to life, six stories tall.

TM: My husband [Michael Myers] invented that opening. The percussion was foot peddle drums played by Brian Leonard for two minutes, and he practically broke his ankle on that.

Maribeth and Micky brought those kinds of people to the arena, and I just loved working with them. As we went along, we got bigger and bigger budgets and were able to utilize bigger parts of the TSO because of their connections. Micky is the arranger-conductor, so that all came with the package.

When you work with composers you develop a kind of shorthand language, in terms of a way of communicating. I’m not a musician, I don’t read music, so you have to develop a language where you’re communicating what it is you intend for a sequence, and you can do that partly through temp music – whatever you choose for that – but you don’t really want them to duplicate it; we’ve always had a great rapport, and found it very easy to work with one another.

Rolling Stones Live At the Max DVD cover

Under the Sea 3D poster


North of Superior (opening titles)


Forest fire sequence in North of Superior




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