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The Making of Amazon

jaguarAfter the film was "green-lighted" in December 1995, director Kieth Merrill made his first scouting trip to the Amazon Basin—a trip he can't soon forget. "I remember going with some apprehension, but it was extraordinary. The immensity of the rain forest was overwhelming. Nothing I had seen before or read prepared me for the profusion of life I experienced," said Merrill.

The filming of Amazon was over the three-and-a half-month period between May and August 1996, and every day saw director and crew witnessing new sights. One day, they would catch a group of woolly monkeys cavorting in the rain forest canopy, and the next they would find themselves face-to-face with a tarantula.

In total, the film crew shot about 240,000 feet, or 12 hours, of 15-perforation/70mm film during their months in the Amazon, struggling with both the weight of the IMAX camera equipment and the extreme working conditions of the Amazon region.

Seeing the finished film, Merrill says the quality of the 12-person crew led to a film without compromise—a film that effectively shares the realism of visiting the Amazon. "I think there is no question that the film does a great job of immersing people in the Amazon experience and talking people who have never been there to the Amazon. I definitely think the audiences share our [the crew's] experiences," said Merrill.