MacGillivray Freeman Films
Profile and History

MacGillivray Freeman Films is the world's most prolific independent producer of giant screen films. This relatively small company is creator of the biggest-grossing documentary film ever made (To Fly!), the fastest grossing large-format film ever produced (Everest), and the 1995 Oscar®-nominated The Living Sea.

Dolphins is the company's twentieth effort in the 15 perforation / 70mm motion picture (IMAX®) format. "Dolphins is an important film," relays President Greg MacGillivray, "because our company's mission is to promote the health of the world ocean. I grew up on southern California's beaches: surfing, sailing, snorkeling and diving. The ocean is my life, so I hope my films inspire people to love the ocean as much as I do, and that they'll strive to treat it better."

Dolphins premieres five years after The Living Sea, MacGillivray's first ocean tribute in the large-format. The Living Sea became one of the most popular films in the format, and still draws crowds at theatres worldwide. "It's a dream come true," echoes MacGillivray.

MacGillivray started his company with Jim Freeman. They met in the early 1960's when both were focusing their lens on the art and sport of surfing. Together they produced several short films, including the surf cult classic, Five Summer Stories. The two gained critical success as they ventured into commercials, corporate promotional pieces and Hollywood motion pictures. Jim Freeman’s photography for the documentary Sentinels of Silence helped the film win two Academy Awards® for Best Documentary Short and Best Live Action Short in 1971, and the team’s camera work for Jonathan Livingston Seagull helped the film receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography in 1973. The Towering Inferno, for which they supplied aerial photography, received a 1974 Oscar in cinematography and was that year's highest grossing motion picture.

The team's aerial expertise prompted an offer from the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum to produce the bicentennial film for the museum's new IMAX theatre, the first of its kind in the United States. By 1976, MacGillivray and Freeman were set to release their inaugural giant screen production, To Fly! Just two days before the premiere, the auspicious event turned tragic. On a test shoot in California, Freeman died in a helicopter accident. "I really didn't know if I could continue filming without Jim," shares MacGillivray, "He was a talented filmmaker and my best friend."

A tribute to both their talent, after almost 25 years To Fly! is still the most popular film at the Air and Space Museum and continues to play in other theatres, as well. Selected by the Librarian of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry, To Fly! joined other classics like Citizen Kane and Gone with the Wind as one of the most important films in 100 years of American filmmaking history.

MacGillivray and his company are responsible for several technical innovations for the IMAX® format, including developing specialty cameras and photographic techniques. Each add to the visceral experience unique to the format. The company mounted the giant camera on a jet dragster, a whitewater kayak, a downhill ski racer, the Blue Angels' F/A 18 jet aircraft, and inside the P-3, a research plane that flies into hurricanes. They even placed their camera directly in the path of an avalanche to achieve a shot with maximum impact.

In 1996, a MacGillivray Freeman climbing and film production team, led by mountaineers David Breashears, Robert Schauer and Ed Viesturs, photographed from the summit of Mt. Everest with a lightweight, all-weather camera designed for the extreme Himalayan conditions. This 42-pound camera was still the heaviest ever to photograph on the world's tallest mountain. Released in 1998, Everest quickly toppled several records in the large-format industry. For the first time, a giant-screen film ranked among the top ten-earning films on the North American box office charts.

For more about MacGillivray Freeman Films, visit

IMAX ® is a registered trademark of Imax Corporation, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
Oscar® is a registered trademark of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Academy Award® is a registered trademark and servicemark of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.