Doing so would have presented a mechanical problem, for one thing: Physical film moved through a camera as sprockets caught holes along the side-there was a limit to how quickly the film could move. George Feltenstein is a film historian and the senior vice president of catalog marketing at Warner Bros., which now owns Brainstorm. A week before filming began, Trumbull gathered much of the cast and some crew at the famed Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, a retreat where, according to its website, “Seekers” can “Explore deeper spiritual possibilities[and] forge new understandings of self and society.” The Brainstorm story has roots in the beliefs of Stanley Grof, a Czech psychiatrist who worked with Esalen and who was exploring the pursuit of altered mental states without the use of narcotics of pharmaceuticals. Beyond Trumbull’s vision, beyond the charisma and ease of Walken and Wood, and Fletcher’s fierce and funny performance, there was the film’s other star: the fictional technology itself, the feverish Brainstorm/Showscan hybrid. While filming one scene outside on the roof of the church, the sound of the 70mm film running through the camera was so loud it was difficult to hear what was going on. ” After depositions of Trumbull and other cast and crew members, including Louise Fletcher, the insurance company decided that abandonment wasn’t necessary and put more than $6 million of its own money toward the completion of the film, to pay for the new scenes and some special effects. BRAINSTORM’S LEGACY”We needed a film that did what Brainstorm did when Brainstorm did it,” says Scott Bukatman, a professor of film and media studies at Stanford University.
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