Award winning cinematographer Jan de Bont has photographed over 20 major films, and he has no doubt that "Roar" was the most intriguing, the most demanding, and the most challenging.
"It was also pretty dangerous," de Bont recalled. "Roar" is the only picture I almost lost my head over." He smiled as if retelling a favorite joke, because at one point in the filming a lion bit his head, and his scalp had to be sewed back in place.
Jan de Bont became an indispensable part of the "Roar" team in 1976. He was intrigued by producer Noel Marshall's revolutionary concept of letting the film's lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, cougars and jaguars do more or less as they wished, thus capturing the truest expression of their personalities. The filming schedule was expected to take six months; the Big Cats had other ideas.
It soon became obvious that shooting would take much longer than predicted. Sometimes, after hours of setting up cameras, lights and reflectors, the Cats just decided to do nothing at all. And at other times things happened so quickly that no less than five cameras missed the action.
"It was frustrating at times," recalled de Bont. "But I was hooked. The Cats were fascinating. They never did the same thing twice. The technical problems were gigantic. When you shoot with five cameras simultaneously, each has to be ingeniously disguised so they don't appear in the shots." It took four years to complete principle shooting.
"This was my first Hollywood film," said de Bont. "And I'll never be the same again."
Jan de Bont was born in Amsterdam in 1944. He graduated from the Amsterdam "FILM ACADEMY" in 1964, studied at the University of Cologne and then returned to Holland to start his own film production company. His films were immediately recognized for their artistic merit, and many were acquired by European film museums. His first feature film "Paranoia" was considered by the influential magazine "Cashiers du Cinema" to be one of the ten best films of 1965.
He has since won the Benelux Film Award, the Utrecht Film Festival Award and the Eastman Kodak Film award.
His "Turkish Delight" was an Oscar nominee in the category of Best Foreign Film.
Since "Roar" de Bont has gone on to becoming one of the top dogs in Hollywood as cinematographer, producer and director.
He looks back on "Roar" as a unique challenge, and a very rewarding experience.
Jan De Bont: Complete Filmography