From 30 Seconds to 90 Minutes

GSD&M has realized its long-planned move into feature filmmaking.

Shooting began last month on a large-format Imax motion picture tentatively titled A Land Called Texas.

The Austin, Texas, agency was commissioned to produce the film by the Texas State History Museum Foundation, a nonprofit arm of the nearby Bob Bullock State History Museum.

Funding, which has been pegged at $5-10 million, will come from the museum’s development budget.

Tim McClure, GSD&M’s chief creative officer and founding partner, and agency producer Jan Wieringa are representing the shop on the project, which is expected to wrap this fall.

“The foundation thought we could bring the high level of creativity we bring to our advertising to their film,” said Wieringa.

The undertaking represents the first fruits of a decision taken two years ago to create GSD&M Studios (formerly Idea Studios), a feature film unit that has struggled to initiate projects, McClure said, because of the economic downturn.

“We’ve spent 30 years making 30-second movies,” McClure told Adweek. “Now we’re ready to expand into features. For us, a 90-minute film is a luxury. We know how to massage every second of a film, not every few minutes.”

Other GSD&M projects are in the Hollywood pipeline, according to McClure.

Al Reinert, who with former Newsweek editor Bill Broyles cowrote the Academy Award-winning Apollo 13, is serving as screenwriter and director. Sean Phillips, a cinematographer with extensive large-format motion picture experience, is director of photography.

The film began shooting in San Antonio on April 24. Other locations will include Lyndon Johnson’s beloved Hill Country, cityscapes in Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and Austin, the ranches of West Texas, the panhandle and the Gulf Coast with its oil rigs. Aerial photography, a mainstay of Imax filmmaking, will play an important role.

“There is such great variety in Texas,” said Wieringa. “It’ll be a challenge to capture it all, but Texas is perfectly suited to a large-format film. Everything is big.”

So big that McClure, a member of the museum board, is playfully calling the medium “I-Tex.”

A Land Called Texas is scheduled to debut at the Austin museum in spring 2003. The foundation plans to distribute the program to Imax theaters in the U.S. and overseas.