Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Anthony Geffen discovers the real world

Rare talk by world-renowned documentary filmmaker

Express Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Atlantic Productions Internationally acclaimed documentary filmmaker Anthony Geffen was on site to film the archaeological discovery of a new tomb in the Valley of Kings, Egypt.

Bringing the world and world history to the viewing public at large is all in a day's work for Anthony Geffen who will present a small sampling of his vast documentary experience at the Community Library in Ketchum at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 28.

Geffen's company, Atlantic Productions, is based in London, and is a leading documentary specialist company known around the globe.

"At any one time we are shooting 35 different countries," said Geffen, whose on the go persona makes a perfect match for his line of business. "I come to Sun Valley twice a year to unwind. I like to do talks but never get to do them. I've been coming to Sun Valley for 15 years, and I love it. It's wonderful to share."

The former head of BBC documentaries in London, Geffen's experience in making documentary films is quite extensive and he claims 200 million people around the world have seen his films.

"They're on PBS and are seen in 40 different countries," Geffen said. "I have made the highest rated documentary series on cable television."

With a production team that ranges from 75 to 100 people at any given time, Geffen is clear about the intentions of his films.

"We don't do reality television. We do pure documentaries," he said. "We do a lot of history when most television is reality television. We are doing subjects that matter much more."

Geffen will present a small portion of some of his latest efforts, which he calls "inside access," and it is. "In the Valley of Kings, a new tomb was found. I took a crew to Egypt for three months to film it. As the tomb was opened it showed people what real archeology is like. It was a surprise when we had exclusive access and the ability to follow the whole thing and what really happened. There were things that went wrong such as a sand storm, floods and egos."

Geffen prides himself on the entire documentary filmmaking process, which includes the good and the bad because it is all part of a story documenting history in the making. Most of the time he is in the field working on films. Otherwise he is able to see the dailies, or footage from a day's shoot, sent to his computer via satellite.

Geffen is working on several projects including a film about the inside story of the Apollo missions, "Apollo 11: The Untold Story" and "Munich: The Real Assassins," revealing the true story behind the Mossad assassins and how it is at the core of the conflict in the Middle East.

"For 10 years I have tried to tell the inside story about what is now the mission of Apollo 11 and Apollo 13. I wanted to get new footage and material on what really happened to the astronauts ... When they were in space they saw a massive UFO, which was never explained," said Geffen. "All the people involved, and everyone who is alive, tell a very different story. It matters what happened during the space program."

Geffen also wants to explore an Everest film about a climber who got lost in 1924. A body was found in 1999, and he believes this could be the first man to climb the mountain.

"People will be able to watch the journey through broadband. It will be shot in 2008 and will be shown in cinema," Geffen said.

In addition, he will work with a couple of Sun Valley residents who have climbed Everest.

With great researchers and stories, Geffen and his crew plan four to five years in advance to make the quality of documentaries that Atlantic Productions is known to do. It has garnered Geffen an incredible reputation, which he believes gives him access to historic events such as the tomb discoveries in Egypt.

"There is a great deal of patience required," Geffen said. "We like to push the bounds of technology, the ways of telling a story and taking people to a place they will never go and bring these stories to prime time."

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