Otto Lilienthal and his great big glider

Well, I thought, when conceiving this film, that it would be quite fun to re-create Otto Lilienthal’s glider flight. His last glider flight in August 1896.

While this film has a whimsical quality it’s also got some serious undertones because there is the possibility of danger when one tries to fly any kind of airborne contraption.

I’m sure I’m talking to those far more knowledgeable than me, but for a little background on Otto you can check out the Otto Lilienthal Museum – they’ve been awesome and very helpful as I’ve tried to figure out all of the logistics.

Of course saying one wants to recreate a significant historical event and actually doing it are miles apart. So, the first thing I knew I needed to do was to find someone to build a replica of the glider.

Since starting this project I’ve met some great people in the flying/gliding community, so I tapped them up and was directed to Paul at the Canadian Air and Space Museum at Downsview Airport in North Toronto. Ironically, several years ago when I was looking for some people to interview for another project I was in touch with Paul who directed me to Dr. James DeLaurier. Dr. D then put me in touch with Todd and the HPO team which got this project started and now, full-circle, I’ve been sent back to Paul.

Paul and Claude agreed to take on this task and started to work. I visited a few days ago and the glider was starting to come together as evidenced by the photos we took (courtesy of Mark Alberts of Electric Square). The deadline is fast approaching for them to complete so I’m guessing they’ll have a few late nights this week!

Now, glider taken care of. What else is required to make this happen. First of all, figuring out who would have been at the launch of this glider. Likely Otto himself, of course, his son Otto (who often went with him), his engineer Paul Beylisch and possibly his brother Gustav Lilienthal. There were also townspeople who would have come out to watch him fly.

So, first things first. Casting. Hire a casting director – Sam Rosenthal at Leo Rising Entertainment – recommended by my dear friend Marlo. We had a session and hired a few people who fit the bill and I cast extras from headshots.

Then we need to get wardrobe for them. 1890’s period clothes which have now been rented from Stratford by our awesome wardrobe woman, Ginger.

Things are coming together.

Next: Location. Where in Toronto can we find a gently sloping hill to shoot on? We got Daniel Kaplan of setnet on board to help us out and ended up at Centennial Hill. A perfect little slope where there is enough sky in the background and enough grass at the base that we can make our angles work. Done.

Then we realized that the glider will weigh in excess of 130lbs and our actor will be strapped into this flying machine atop a hill…sounds like a potential recipe for disaster, no?

Glider rigger please to secure our actor and make sure everything is safe. Got him. Check.

Getting close.

Location scout with our camera team, glider rigger, AD and PM…everyone happy.

Now, we’re almost ready to shoot. We just need one more thing. Perfect weather. Blue sky, not much wind and we’re good to go.

Fingers crossed.

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