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Creative team to be packed with Canadians

Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun

Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2007

VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Olympics organizing committee is to announce Thursday what is promised to be a creative team packed with Canadian talent that will develop the $40-million opening and closing ceremonies, expected to be the two most-watched televised events in Canadian history.

The name of the executive producer and the creative team is a closely guarded secret.

But Terry Wright, Vanoc's executive vice-president of culture and ceremonies, said a team of "less than a dozen" will be named a day after the Vanoc board of directors, meeting in Whistler today, gives final approval.

Wright said the team involves individuals picked from several proposals and will include Canadian talent that will make sure that the country puts its best face forward in the two two-hour-plus shows and the nightly medal ceremonies.

"This will be one of the largest audiences Canada has ever had the chance to communicate to," Wright said. "We believe this is a huge opportunity for the city and the province and the country, through Vanoc, to tell the world about our country," Wright said.

There is a lot at stake in this selection, especially after Vanoc drew criticism for its eight-minute segment of the closing ceremonies in the 2006 Turin Winter Games. That event, featuring scenes of ice-fishing, hockey and a Vanoc Inukshuk logo as a snowman was panned by many, including Premier Gordon Campbell, for stereotyping. It also suffered from technical problems that left many television viewers confused about the program's content.

But Wright promised that won't happen again.

"Torino was a bit of an anomaly. When it's not your show and you're the back end of the back end, at the bottom of the totem pole, it's not an ideal production setup," he said.

The main show in 2010 "will be stacked in our favour," he said. "If anything, what Torino did for us, and the criticism after, was sharpen our focus as to how we were going to approach the selection of this team."

Vanoc received 16 proposals earlier this year and short-listed eight. It selected one executive producer about a month ago and has been assembling a team from various proposals.

Two high-profile Olympic ceremonies producers, as well as a B.C. concert producer, have confirmed their proposals were not chosen. Scott Givens, who organized the ceremonies for the 2002 Salt Lake Games, and Dennis MacDonald, whose Blue Mountain Concerts put on Vancouver Symphony Orchestra concerts, said their complex proposals were turned down. Givens said Andrew Walsh, another producer involved with the 2000 Sydney Summer Games, also confirmed his team proposal was rejected.

When asked who had won the job, Wright said: "Ask me that question on Thursday."

In addition to Givens and Walsh, some of the top names in Olympic show production are believed to have submitted proposals. A publicist for Jack Morton Worldwide, producer of the 2004 Athens Summer Games, declined to comment. And calls to Don Mischer Productions, whose namesake won seven Emmys for his production of the Salt Lake ceremonies, did not return calls. Ric Birch, who put on the ceremonies for the 1984 Los Angeles, 1992 Barcelona and 2000 Sydney Summer Games, said in an e-mail that he did not submit a bid.

Givens, who was involved in five Olympic and two Pan-Am Games ceremonies, said he's confident Vanoc has found a good team that can produce a show that will capture Canada's national pride as a host country.

"There is a worldwide population that needs to understand your message and appreciate your cultural presentation. There is the nation, which has a slightly different cultural filter than the third population, which is the local Vancouver and B.C. population," Givens said.

"A great ceremony works across all three. When you look back across at other ceremonies, the ones that had less success were ones that had that out of balance," he said. "The ones that spoke only to the world population were seen by the locals as stereotypical."

jefflee@png.canwest.com

© The Vancouver Sun 2007

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Actually, an Australian-led team was selected. They are ex-collaborators of Ric Birch and participated in a big way with Sydney 2000. Below is an excerpt from the VANOC news release:

"David Atkins Enterprises (DAE) of Australia, producer of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Sydney 2000 Summer Games and the 15th Asian Games Doha 2006, in Qatar, has been selected as Executive Producer for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Ceremonies.

The company’s founder, David Atkins, and DAE’s Catherine Ugwu and Ignatius Jones, will collaborate with a world-class team of Canadians to tell the unique story of Canada through the Games Ceremonies. The Ceremonies team will also feature leading figures drawn from Canada’s music, producing, creative and events industries including Sam Feldman, Bruce Allen, Nettwerk Records’ Dan Fraser, Canadian College of Performing Arts cofounder Jacques Lemay, Director and Image Creator Érick Villeneuve and VANOC Ceremonies’ staff members Ian Pool and Marti Kulich."

So it looks like this Atkins shop is now the 4th consortium (with the Birch, Mischer and Morton orgs being the first 3) in the world to go after these Olympic Ceremonies contracts and build their int'l Special Events resumes. The way I see the next ones:

London 2012 - Jack Morton

Sochi 2014 - home-grown using Russian talents.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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Sorry out of topic, but i'm curios is already fall in Canada ? maybe we can see another great decision from VANOC after they unveil the mascot at this fall.... :lol:

the mascot unveiling is this November. they've tested the mascot with people of all ages, including children, and the mascots have been well received by them.

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Hmm, so looks like that Ric Birch is a little tired of producing olympic ceremonies (maybe after that big flop on the Torino 2006 ceremonies...). I wonder who will be in charge for this ceremonies. Also, I wonder how are they going to use the roof for their advantage?.

Just a curious offtopic pic, from the OC of the Expo 1986 in Vancouver. Maybe they are going to make a big stage at this side of the arena?

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Again another legacy from Sydney 2000.

the best thing that happened for Sporting business in Australia is now the ability for Australians and Australian business to be "consultants" within the Olympic Movement.

Even Di Henry is behind the Beijing 2008 Torch Relay after doing Sydney 2000, Torino 2006, Doha 2006 and now Beijing 2008.

If it is a bid city through to an organinsing committee, the legacy of Sydney 2000 is brilliant to see!

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Again another legacy from Sydney 2000.

the best thing that happened for Sporting business in Australia is now the ability for Australians and Australian business to be "consultants" within the Olympic Movement.

Even Di Henry is behind the Beijing 2008 Torch Relay after doing Sydney 2000, Torino 2006, Doha 2006 and now Beijing 2008.

If it is a bid city through to an organinsing committee, the legacy of Sydney 2000 is brilliant to see!

Actually, those are just a handful of positions. For the large part, a great majority of Olympic Organizing jobs go to local people. The Org Committees want, for the most part, to use their own people and talent.

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Hmm, so looks like that Ric Birch is a little tired of producing olympic ceremonies (maybe after that big flop on the Torino 2006 ceremonies...). I wonder who will be in charge for this ceremonies. Also, I wonder how are they going to use the roof for their advantage?.

Just a curious offtopic pic, from the OC of the Expo 1986 in Vancouver. Maybe they are going to make a big stage at this side of the arena?

Birch does not believe in the 'tender' process. This Atkins guy and VANOC (it's always a team effort) will be in charge of Ceremonies. Didn't u read it? How will they use the roof to their disadvantage?

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Australian chosen to produce 2010 Winter Games ceremonies

Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun

The man who produced one of the most memorable opening and closing ceremonies in Olympic history has been given the job of crafting the ceremonies for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

David Atkins, whose production of the 2000 Sydney Summer Games ceremonies are regarded as one of four top Olympic performances, was named Thursday as the executive producer of a team heavy with Canadian talent, including impresarios Sam Feldman, Bruce Allen, Nettwerk Records' Dan Fraser and Jacques Lemay, the co-founder of the Canadian College of Performing Arts.

Atkins beat out a field of 15 other contenders to head the $40 million production, including such competitors as Scott Givens and Don Mischer, who produced the 2002 Salt Lake Games events, and Austrialian colleague Andrew Walsh, who also worked on the Sydney ceremonies.

But his proposal was not accepted unchanged by the Vancouver Organizing Committee. Instead, in a pattern moulded after the Beijing 2008 Summer Games, Vanoc cherry-picked elements from a number of the other proposals. In fact, one of the largest combinations came from Feldman and Allen, who had submitted a proposal of their own but were asked to form a team with Atkins.

Atkins and his crew will be responsible for producing both the opening and closing ceremony shows as well as the nightly victory ceremonies at BC Place.

It will be the first time in Olympic history that such events have been held indoors, something Atkins said later won't pose a challenge. Instead, creating a performance with 10,000 performers inside a venue where weather isn't a factor will be a joy, he said.

"The greatest impediment to any ceremonies is the weather," he said. "In this case, that has been sensibly removed."

The opening ceremony show, which Vanoc says will last about two-and-a-half hours, will be performed before a live audience of 50,000. The closing ceremonies will last about two hours and fifteen minutes. But Atkins said that by the end of the Olympics, the events will have been viewed by six billion people.

The International Olympic Committee estimates that up to three billion people watch each opening or closing ceremonies.

It will certainly be, by Atkins' estimation, the most-watched television production in Canadian history.

Atkins and Terry Wright, Vanoc's executive vice-president of ceremonies, said the events will be an unprecedented opportunity to showcase Canadian talent. They said they will begin a search later this year to identify national, regional and local talent.

The ceremonies will pay tribute to all of Canada's cultural communities, including First Nations and the country's linguistic duality, Wright said.

Atkins' list of credits include the 2000 Sydney Games, including the Sydney Harbour closing ceremony fireworks show that included the world's longest fireworks show.

Atkins said he won't use such fireworks for the BC Place show, but will look for other opportunities, including using the Teflon dome as a projection screen.

2h30m for the opening and 2h15m for the closing is quite disappointingly short for Olympic ceremonies, comparing to the 3-3.5 hour shows in Athens and Torino and the 4 hour monsters in Sydney and Salt Lake. Or is the 2h30m only the cultural show portions of the ceremonies, not including 1-1.5 hours for the parade of nations, lighting of the cauldron, and IOC protocol? It would be ideal and more proper to have longer ceremonies, about 3-3h15 minutes long.

And no fireworks??? Even though it's an indoor venue, surely they can have fireworks going off outside in Vancouver for the billions of tv viewers to see. An Olympic ceremony isn't an Olympic ceremony if it doesn't have fireworks!

And with using the teflon dome as a giant projection screen, they've got a lot of cleaning to do.

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VANOC has posted some new videos today.

Highlights of David Atkins past ceremony productions (A MUST SEE!):

http://www.vancouver2010.com/en/Downloads/...ghlightreel.flv

Seeing what Atkins could do in that video, I'm confident Vancouver will pull off a great show.

Interviews of the creative team and David Atkins:

http://www.vancouver2010.com/en/Downloads/..._Interviews.flv

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I tought from the beggining that they would use some Cirque du Soleil team for the ceremonies, but they brought to many of us a good surprise. Looks like they are going to do a great show.

And well, there you got it. First Nations tribute again, just like Victoria 94 CWG ceremonies. So at least we know that the totem poles are going to be present there (i'm hoping anyway that they don't copy the native american greeting at Salt Lake 2002 OC)

By the way baron, i mentioned Ric Birch since he refused to participate at the contest.

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My, that was quick! I mean the film videos re interviews with the Creative Team.

David Atklins brought up an interesting topic which we have discussed here before. WHo will light the Vancouver cauldron? I think I know the answer already: because of Canada's dual cultural nature (altho of course, both are Quebecois), I'd guess Jaime Sale and David Pelletier will have the 2010 honors.

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Judging from the interviews, the ideas aren't cast in stone yet. I'm not surprised. They will want to take this out to the cultural community and conduct facilitated groups to assess the best and most significant ideas. That's the way the creative process for big projects is done these days. Its not just someone scratching down ideas on paper and making them happen. This will be interesting to see as it evolves.

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Judging from the interviews, the ideas aren't cast in stone yet. I'm not surprised. They will want to take this out to the cultural community and conduct facilitated groups to assess the best and most significant ideas. That's the way the creative process for big projects is done these days. Its not just someone scratching down ideas on paper and making them happen. This will be interesting to see as it evolves.

They did the same process for Atlanta -- which is as it is when you're short of ideas other than cliche ones.

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Atkins and his family will be moving to Vancouver in a few months, now that Vancouver 2010 is his biggest client.

Well, shall we say his 'immediate' client. Of course, after Doha and this, his team will be looking for other contracts. I mean, they seem to be on a hot streak, and so they will go after other plums (London, most certainly).

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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Well, shall we say his 'immediate' client. Of course, after Doha and this, his team will be looking for other contracts. I mean, they seem to be on a hot streak, and so they will go after other plums (London, most certainly).

Though, would London choose them to produce the Olympic ceremonies for the third time and for the second time in a row? I very much doubt it.

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Though, would London choose them to produce the Olympic ceremonies for the third time and for the second time in a row? I very much doubt it.

Why would it not be possible? The London bid got a lot of guidance from Sydney's success -- so, if anything, other than Ric Birch, Atkins' sub-group would have as good a chance as Jack Morton's London office. Altho of course, London could name its own Executive Producer (Cameron Macintosh?), and then go and cherry-pick other sub-producers.

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Why would it not be possible? The London bid got a lot of guidance from Sydney's success -- so, if anything, other than Ric Birch, Atkins' sub-group would have as good a chance as Jack Morton's London office. Altho of course, London could name its own Executive Producer (Cameron Macintosh?), and then go and cherry-pick other sub-producers.

Perhaps as sub-producers, but certainly not the second time in a row as the Executive Producer.

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Also, I wonder how are they going to use the roof for their advantage?.

Because it will be the first FULLY-roofed Olympic Opening Ceremony (Summer or Winter), I believe it will be a big Ice Show. It would be flashier, more spectacular and there is a great talent pool of excellent ice skaters (professional, or otherwise) in Canada. As for fireworks, there will be some smaller ones, like around the ice rink; and/or as part of the skaters' outfits.

And obviously, because it is a white-colored roof/ceiling (eggshell white, Navajo-whtie, whatever u want to call the shade), it will work well with projections -- but at the same time, I don't foresee a lot of aerial stunts. Nonetheless, the fireworks will go outside (I mean how long can you stand outside on a Winter's night just to watch fireworks? max 10 min.) But a lot more throughout the City on Closing.

Also, let me be the first to unequivocally state it here: 2002 gold medallists Mr. & Mrs. David and Jaime Pelletier will be the final lighters on 12 February 2010.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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