Friday, August 19, 2011


By Rick Green
Hoverboy Historian

In my last posting I shared some behind the scenes dirt about inventor Burl Buckowski's home-built aircraft, the Hover Plane. The tiny craft never made it to film, but did have a big impact on the wall of a factory near the studios of Vigilance Pictures. The fact that Burl wore a Hoverboy helmet during his demonstration flight, despite being told it wouldn't be visible to the camera, may explain why he lost control of his aircraft.

The story has brought a number of great questions and one comment I won't even stoop to mention. But Nick from Kingston asks, "How did they create the effect of the giant Eskimo Flying Igloos in the serial, Hoverboy vs. Nanook?"

Great question Nick! I'm sure millions have asked the same question. 

Here's how it was done. Small igloos were made from paper maché, then hung from sticks and Vigilance Pictures staff 'flew' them in front of the camera dangling from sticks. The staff members stood a few feet away from the camera, which was low to the ground. Meanwhile, the actors stood about two hundred feet away and pointed up into the sky. They were tiny in the shot. The Igloos are huge. The effect, from the camera's point of view, was that gigantic floating igloos were moving ominouslyacross the sky. 

Here we see how it's done. 

This was in fact a test run. For the actual shot, long threads were used to suspend the igloos so the sticks were out of the shot. Despite this, one stick did make it into the edge of the frame, as did the front toe of the shoe of a crew member. 

The movie is seldom seen today because many Aboriginal groups say it is racist. Plus a lot of women say it's sexist. And pretty much everyone else thinks it's fascist.

Side note: The six Vigilance Studio employees in this shot, starting closest to camera, are the special-effects whiz Doug Kruschev, props master Sheldon Prorascki, studio accountant Martin Van Dutchy, unidentified (possibly a young Kirk Douglas), assistant cameraman Bub Cooper and Witold Kula, a vagrant who lived in a shed on the studio log in return for doing odd jobs and who later returned to his native Poland became a world renowned economic historian. 

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