Listen To My Discussion With: Director Bill Rebane. Known for low-budget indie horror cult movies and more including The Giant Spider Invasion (1975), Blood Harvest (1987) The Demons of Ludlow (1983) The Capture of Bigfoot (1979) The Alpha Incident (1978) Invasion from Inner Earth (1974) Monster A Go-Go (1965) and more.
He joined me Thursday October 15, when we recorded live, 8am PST, 10am CST 11am EST to discuss making movies and his career memories.
As an Estonian national, born in 1937, Bill (Ito) Rebane came to the United States at age 15 in 1952. Rebane’s mother was Latvian and his father, Arnold Rebane, was Estonian. After attending school in post war Germany, as a child, he conversed in four languages, Estonian, Latvian, German and Russian.
His passion for film was incited by the movies he saw on a daily basis upon coming to America, which helped him to learn and master the English language.
With intent to pursue a career in the performing arts, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago and the Goodman Theater, majoring in drama and, working his way up through the ranks at Chicago’ flagship television station WGN Television.
Use the bolded link below to listen to the archived show!
Rex Sikes Movie Beat chats with director Bill Rebane
Starting in the mail room (age 17,) Bill advanced rapidly to Floor Manager, Asst. producer and assistant to the Executive producer, providing him the opportunity to partake in countless daily live television productions in a variety of creative capacities.
This afforded him the opportunity to advance his ambitions as an actor and singer resulting in numerous live television appearances in shows like “They Stand Accused” (courtroom drama-series) and “The International Cafe,” musical variety syndicated series.
At 19, returning to Germany, he met Producer Adalbert Baltes of Hamburg, Germany, the inventor of the one and only, 360 degree motion picture process. Filmed with one camera and projected with one projector. Baltes is credited in starting Rebane’s lifetime career in the Motion Picture Industry.
After working as a production assistant, Asst. Director and Director on numerous Cinema Scope Theatrical Short Subjects for Baltes Film, Bill obtained the United Sates rights to the circular motion picture process “Cinetarium”. Two years later introduced the process to the motion picture industry of he world at United Film and Recording Studios, Chicago.
This event attracted such notable guests as Samuel Goldwyn, Roy Disney, Jack Warner, Hugh Hefner and Michael Todd Jr. Not counting hundreds of industry professionals from Russia, central Europe and Japan.
At 22 Rebane found himself to be millionaire. A short lived experience as, the costs of patents, legal fees and attempts to manufacture vertical projection systems, in that time, were beyond the means of the Company’s he had formed for the further development of the process.
His first independent production effort was “Twist Craze,” a ten minute musical theatrical short subject purchased by American International Pictures. “Twist Craze” became an international success theatrically and financially. It enjoyed a 10 week holdover at the Oriental Theater in Chicago and, was a phenomenon.
This was unheard of for independent short subject theatrical productions of that time. Having earned twenty times it’s production costs, Rebane followed this success with another 20 minute theatrical musical short titled “Dance Craze” which surpassed the success of the earlier one and ultimately was purchased by Crown International Pictures for international release.
In 1963, Rebane turned his attention to science fiction feature film, “Terror at Halfway,” starring June Travis and Peter Thompson, becoming the first producer in Chicago to tackle an independent feature film production with a full union crew and screen actors guild talent.
A chance meeting with Ronald Reagan nearly attached Reagan to the film. However, Rebane’s financial contacts would not go along. They claimed that Ronald Reagan was a “has been” and not worth investing in.
Unable to complete the film, Rebane suffered a financial and career set back and arranged for the existing footage to be edited by Herschel Gordon Lewis. Lewis went on to complete the film, and later released it as “Monster A Go Go.” A title and effort which to this day, Rebane wishes he could forget.
His interests in performing and with the professional contacts he had made by now led to his position as co-host of the Germania Broadcast at Chicago’s, WGES radio station. Americas largest and most popular German language broadcast in America.
This daily evening one hour live show allowed him to create, produce and host other Radio shows on Chicago’s first FM station WKFM Radio. Yet left time open for his day time job as National Public Relations Director and Asst. Advertising Director, for the American Distributor for the German firm Grundig Radio.
At 23, Rebane returned to Germany to take on the position as Executive in Charge of U.S. co-productions for Studio Bendestorf, Germany, in which he had a small interest. He opened offices in Chicago and Hollywood. Rebane commuted on a bi weekly basis dealing with all the major studios to attract producers to the then lower costs productions in Germany.
Ultimately the films which found a partial or full home at his Bendestorf Studio facility and through his contact efforts were; “Dollar” (Goldie Hawn/ Scott Brady,) “How I Won the War” (John Lennon) and “The Odessa File” (John Voight.)
By the time Rebane was thirty, he had become a well rounded film business man. He also gained the production and technical experience of a seasoned film maker. Later he moved to Wisconsin where he built and established the only full time feature film studio in the Midwest. It flourished for over a quarter of a century, producing hundreds of commercials / industrial / corporate image films plus a string of theatrical features all of which enjoyed international theatrical theatrical distribution and exposure.
For commercial film production Rebane acknowledges and expresses his appreciation to fellow film maker, producer Jerry Gregoris, of Chicago for entrusting Rebane with the directorial and post production responsibilities and subsequent credits on films made for such prestigious clients as the Teamsters Union, The Republican Party of Indiana, State Farm Insurance, The City of Chicago, and Wausau Insurance.
In l984 Mr. Rebane took a break from production to become President and take charge of international distribution for The International Picture show Company in Atlanta Ga. (a public company) for the distribution of such product as; “Falling in Love Again,” Elliot Gould / “Slapstick,”Jerry Lewis,/Land Without Time, William Shatner and many of the Don Knots and Tim Conway comedy features.
Mr. Rebane has held a variety of executive positions in the motion picture industry throughout his career. He is a skilled filmmaker/ writer/ cinematographer / production designer / editor and film director.
He can further be credited with the following accomplishments;
• The introduction of the first 360 degree (wrap around) motionpicture process to the Motion Picture Industry of the world, that spurred the Cinemax process and today’s and Rotascope cameras.
• The creation of the Wisconsin Film Office.
• Producing, directing, editing and production designing at least one hundred commercial / industrial / corporate image / documentary and promotion films.
• Producer / Director / Writer / Director of Photography on 12 independent feature films, all of which have enjoyed successful international theatrical release.
• Producer / director / of one of the fifty top grossing films 1975. Gross 24 million dollars. l975/l976
• The creation and successful operation of the one and only full time feature film studio in the Midwest for over 30 years. The Shooting Ranch ltd. Studios.
Books• Author of the book, “Film Funding 2000.”
• Author of the Novel, “From Roswell with Love” 2009
Reference materials on Bill Rebane include but are not limited to:
• Book: Who’s Who in Leading American Executives 1994 ( U.S Registry)
• Book: “God’s in Polyester” Succubus Press / Amsterdam
• Book: Famous Wisconsin Film Stars (Badger Books )
• Monthly Publications
Reports /Wisconsin Report
Filmography • Blood Harvest (1987)
• Twister’s Revenge! (1987)
• The Game (1984)
• The Demons of Ludlow (1983)
• The Capture of Bigfoot (1979)
• The Alpha Incident (1978)
• The Giant Spider Invasion (1975)
• Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake (1975)
• Invasion from Inner Earth (1974)
• Monster A Go-Go (1965)
“Film Funding 2000” written by Bill Reebane
“From Roswell With Love” by Bill Rebane