Toni Myers answers a question following a screening of the IMAX film A Beautiful Planet at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC on 22 April 2016.
Education and Early Career
Born in Toronto to Douglas and Norah Trow, Myers attended Branksome Hall and the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University). She began her career in film as an assistant editor for CBC programs such as Telescope as well as one of the first Canadian television shows produced in colour, Forest Rangers.
After moving to New York in 1965, Myers met fellow Canadian filmmaker Graeme Ferguson, who would later cofound IMAX. The two collaborated on the film Polar Life (1967), which made its debut at Expo 67. Myers then briefly moved to England, where she worked on projects for the BBC and collaborated with musicians such as John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the band Santana. Ferguson invited Myers to return to Canada to assist with editing on his film North of Superior (1971), which would make its debut at the Cinesphere at Ontario Place. The film is considered one of the first to highlight the potential of large-format IMAX films.
Myers continued to work as an editor for many of IMAX’s projects, including Hail Columbia! (1982), Rolling Stones: At the Max (1991) and L5: First City in Space (1996).
Myers’s work is characterized by the exploration of new frontiers, whether deep into the earth or ocean or out of this world into space. She is best known for her space trilogy, The Dream is Alive (1985), Blue Planet (1990) and Destiny in Space (1994). She also wrote, directed, produced, and edited Space Station 3D (2002) and Hubble 3D (2010), each earning an award for Best Film by the Giant Screen Cinema Association. The list of prominent Hollywood actors who have provided narration for her films includes Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet.
Myers transformed the astronauts and cosmonauts she worked with into cinematographers. As a key member of the IMAX Space Team, Myers trained around 155 astronauts in filmmaking for 24 missions. She taught them the basics of lighting, framing and recording sounds with an IMAX camera (see also The Craft of Motion Picture Making). She also sketched and rehearsed specific shots she wanted them to capture.
In an interview with Independent Print in 2016, Myers revealed that she hoped her films would inspire young women to pursue not just filmmaking, but also STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) to increase female representation in those fields. She further shared, “I want girls to come out of the film and go ‘Yeah, I want to crack that fusion problem.’” She also hoped her films would encourage young people to consider pressing environmental issues such as climate change. However, she made it clear that she never wanted to “berate” people for not taking care of the Earth; rather, she hoped her films would inspire people to do better.
Myers was married to painter and filmmaker Michael Myers until his death in 2010. She had one son, Jackson, and a stepdaughter, Micki. After a battle with cancer, Myers passed away in Toronto in 2019.
Myers’s IMAX space films inspired many people to become astronauts. Tom Jones, Susan Helms and Terry Virts all cite Myers’s early IMAX space films as their inspiration for becoming astronauts. In the film industry, Myers is sometimes referred to as the “Spielberg of space films.” Acclaimed director Christopher Nolan has said that her films inspired his approach on the feature film Interstellar (2014).
Honours and Awards
- Exceptional Public Achievement Award, NASA (2018)
- Outstanding Achievement Award, Giant Screen Cinema Association (2018)
- Member, Order of Canada (2019)