Fly Away Home Poster

In 1995 Columbia Pictures purchased the rights to Bill's story. Since 20/20's coverage of the 1993 migration experiment the story had become well known, and Hollywood was ready to jump right in. Columbia pictures won the bid, and decided to make a movie about flying with the geese that used elements of the truth, but was also a movie for the whole family. The times dictated that the film should be about a single parent family - So the writers went to work and came up with the script for "FLY AWAY HOME", a movie very loosely based on Bill's life. The movie was released in 1996 with great reviews, starring Jeff Daniels and academy award winner Anna Paquin. Here are a few photos taken during the shooting.

Dana Delaney in the Blacksmith shop from The Last Buffalo and Fly Away Home

Bill & Jeff Daniels taxiing in a Cosmos trike Anna Paquin,Carmen Lishman & friends.

The movie contained some elements of the actual story. The replica Lunar Module, Steel Dragon and Pop-up Fridge were all based on reality. The writers declined using the underground house however because it was just "too weird".


       Bill and Richard Van Heuvelan have a been involved with a number of films with the Imax Corporation. Imax films are played on huge screens, if you haven't seen one you should. In the mid 80's Imax came up with a new 3D technology, using twin cameras, increasing the viewers immersive experience.
        The Last Buffalo was the second ever 3D Imax film made,  and was featured at Expo '90 in Osaka Japan. The film was shot during the summer of 1987 and features spectacular nature footage. Cougars, cranes, buffalo and eagles all seem close enough to touch, interspersed with shots of a turn of the  century blacksmith shop filled with fire and smoke.
       The blacksmith shop was constructed on-site for the filming at Purple Hill, re-created from the old Cronk barn in Pickering, and was also used in Fly Away Home. (pictured above)
      As the film continues we find the blacksmith (Bill) is making steel sculptures of the animals, including a life sized buffalo. All of these sculptures were created by Bill and Richard for the film. I won't give away the ending but it is quite dramatic...
          Here are some photos of the sculptures. Click on the thumbnails for full screen shots.
selfportrait.jpg (69446 bytes)

This self portrait now guards Bill's home.

The Buffalo from the film resides in a private art collection in Texas.

Where do eagles soar? I'm not sure..
       Bill and Richard have also been involved in a couple of other Imax films, they designed and built some of the sets for the Imax film Beavers, as well as a small steel replica of the sunken Titanic for Titanica.

The sunken Craft from the front.

Imax Camera's Rolling