As It Happens

Remembering Christopher Chapman, filmmaker who put Ontario on the map at Expo 67

Christopher Chapman was a Canadian filmmaker who pioneered the "Brady Bunch" effect, or the split-screen film technique. His Ontario promotional film "A Place to Stand", shown at Expo 67, earned him an Academy Award. Chapman died in Uxbridge, Ontario this month, at the age of 88.
Canadian filmmaker Christopher Chapman earned an Academy Award for his short film "A Place To Stand," the famous promotional film showcasing Ontario, and the cinematic masterpiece of Expo 67. He became known for his pioneering split-screen film technique, known as "multiple dynamic images." Chapman died Oct. 24 in Uxbridge, Ontario, at the age of 88. (Doug Griffin/Getty Images/Christopher Chapman)

Forty miles of film, shot all over the province of Ontario. Three-hundred-and-fifty pages of notes. All woven by Christopher Chapman into one short movie called A Place to Stand -- the cinematic centrepiece of Expo 67.

It won Chapman an Academy Award -- which, with characteristic humility, he subsequently used as a doorstop. 

Christopher Chapman was a filmmaker whose frames contained multitudes. He died this past weekend in Uxbridge, Ont., at the age of 88.

Chapman got the Expo 67 gig from the government of Ontario based on his previous work. He'd won film of the year at the Canadian Film Awards (the pre-cursor to the Genies) for his 1954 short The Seasons, a "film tapestry" set to Vivaldi's Four Seasons that depicted spring, summer, fall, and winter on Lake Simcoe in Ontario.

Similarly, for A Place to Stand, he had no narration -- just that catchy "Ontari-ari-ari-o" song by Dolores Claman, who also wrote the theme for Hockey Night in Canada -- and a mind-boggling amount of film, which he'd shot across Ontario without any real sense of how it would come together. 

The way he eventually did bring it together was revolutionary: using a concept he'd invented called "multiple dynamic images", he filled the big screen with various smaller screens, each showing something slightly different. Along with an Oscar, it won him the attention of a flabbergasted Steve McQueen.

McQueen asked Christopher Chapman to direct his racing movie, Le Mans -- but Chapman declined, and continued making smaller films on his own.

Here's Part Two of A Place to Stand, by Christopher Chapman.