Newport Beach Public Library Foundation Hosts Evening with Filmmaker Greg MacGillivray

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Greg MacGillivray with an IMAX camera / Photo courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films

The Newport Beach Public Library Foundation presented an evening with filmmaker Greg MacGillivray at the Newport Beach Central Library on Saturday, January 28.

More than 180 patrons attended the3 event and heard MacGillivray talk about his life as a filmmaker from surf films to Hollywood masterpieces to his 45 groundbreaking IMAX films that raised awareness about the natural world.

His presentation included video clips of his films including “Everest,” “To The Arctic,” “Journey to the South Pacific” and his early career with his partner Jim Freeman.

Freeman tragically died in a helicopter accident just days before the grand opening of their first IMAX film in 1976, To Fly, which is still being shown at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. MacGillivray related how he has continued to honor his friend and early partner by keeping the name MacGillivray Freeman.

MacGillivray Freeman is a very successful production company having produced five of the top ten highest-grossing IMAX films in the world with over one billion in worldwide ticket sales. Greg’s wife Barbara was always involved in the production company, and they are now joined by their son, Shaun, and daughter Meghan.

MacGillivray signed his recently released memoir “Five Hundred Summer Stories: A Life in IMAX” after his presentation.

The evening included a light dinner catered by West Coast Event Productions, with music provided by Steve Wood and Beth Fitchett Wood of the acclaimed band Honk. Steve Wood worked on 25 soundtracks of MacGillivray Freeman films including “Everest” with George Harrison, “To the Arctic” with Paul McCartney, “Grand Canyon Adventure” with the Dave Matthews Band, “The Living Sea” with Sting, and the music for “Five Summer Stories,” the iconic surfer film celebrating its 50th anniversary last year.

The evening benefited the A/V Technology Fund for Witte Hall, the soon to be constructed Library Lecture Hall that will transform the quality, and character of programs and events presented by the Newport Beach Public Library and Library Foundation as well as the extended Newport Beach community.

Greg MacGillivray mentioned in his presentation that his films will look terrific on the planned 9’ x 16’ LED video wall display in Witte Hall and everyone will be able to see both the video screen and the speaker with the planned tiered seating.

The Foundation anticipates inviting Greg MacGillivray for another presentation when Witte Hall opens in 2024.

Witte Hall will also include technically advanced stage lighting and audio-visual equipment that will maximize the audience experience. Computer-controlled lighting over the audience and above the stage will provide multiple lighting settings for lectures, performing arts, film and other presentations. Multiple state-of-the-art speakers and excellent acoustics will mean that the human voice, musical instruments and sound from the video display will be clear, precise and vivid everywhere in the auditorium. Additional advanced technology includes the capacity to livestream presentations and a wireless Assistive Listening System.

The City and the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation have entered into an agreement in which the City will be contributing half of the cost of construction of Witte Hall and the Foundation will raise funds for the remainder.  It is anticipated that groundbreaking for the new Hall will be in 2023 with the Grand Opening in 2024.

Naming opportunities are still available for the new Library Lecture Hall. Major donors will have permanent recognition on the Donor Wall in the Louise and Roy Woolsey Memorial Lobby at Witte Hall and at Grand Opening events.

For more information on the Foundation’s capital campaign Beyond Books go to

For more information on Witte Hall and the Beyond Books capital campaign contact Jerold D Kappel, Chief Executive Officer of the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation, at [email protected].

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