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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Minneapolis man hopes for Technical Oscar

The 2009 Academy Awards are nine months away, but a Minneapolis auteur is hoping Hollywood will get on board his new cinematic innovation in a big way.

Kiln Ovendoor says his invention, the Weasel-Cam, will lend an even more heightened sense of realism to movies, an order of magnitude beyond cinema verite and today's handheld camera work, and even digital effects.

The Weasel-Cam is a professional Arriflex 435 movie camera riveted to a harness, which is then strapped to the head of a weasel. The system has been tested with long-tailed, short-tailed, and least weasels, all species native to Minnesota.

"The only extra cost is the steroids we have to give the weasel so it can hold up its little head under the weight of 20 pounds of camera, film magazine and rig," said Ovendoor.

Ovendoor, 70, says he first got the idea when a fan commented that his 2007 short subject, Censored!!! MN Historical Society Exhibit on PRT & LRT, "looked like the camera was hidden in a coat bundled up under your arm."

Says Ovendoor: "It wasn't entirely the effect I was hoping for. A bundled coat, especially in summer, looks out of place. People notice that, and I don't want my performers acting to the camera. I realized a weasel wearing a camera would be less noticeable. The rest is history."

But is the Weasel-Cam Oscar-worthy? Ovendoor is optimistic.

"I think I have a case for a nomination in a technical category. What I've done is utilized a small furry mammal in a way never before seen in moviemaking," he said, adding -- "Mammals are box office gold -- look at The Deer Hunter and Caddyshack."

Lotusland may already be noticing, based on response to Ovendoor's new feature, the science fiction fantasy Personal Rapid Transit (CPRT) Director - Zimmermann Was Framed.

Movie critic Rex Reed called the Weasel-Cam sequences in ...Framed, "like hiding a camcorder in a coat bundled up under your arm, only without anyone noticing."

And famed cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) described ...Framed as "what living in a HabiTrail must be like."

More from the Weasel-Cam (5/29):

Ken Avidor -- the Weasel Whisperer®

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