THE GREAT RAFT RACE! (1972)
Produced and directed
Robert M. Storer
Originally titled IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY TO SAVE THE RIVER
'The Great Raft Race' World Bow in Atlanta
ATLANTA -- "The Great Raft Race," a feature filmed in Atlanta and produced and directed by Robert M. Storer, was given its world premiere in three Eastern Federal Theatres -- Toco Hill, Ben Hill I and North Springs.
Prior to opening in those showcases, the picture was shown at a benefit performance in the 1,900-seat Symphony Hall in the Atlanta Memorial Arts Center, with tickets priced from $10 to $25. All proceeds were earmarked for the Georgia Conservation program to purchase and preserve scenic areas along the banks of the Chattahoochee River.
Based on the 1971 Ramblin' Raft Race, an annual competition between rafters, canoe paddlers, inner-tube riders and other makeshift craft, the picture was created by Storer. Original title of the picture was "It's a Beautiful Day to Save the River," taken from one of the film's original songs, with an environmental theme. It was decided, however, that "The Great Raft Race" was shorter and gave a clearer idea of what the picture was all about.
Storer got his idea for the film after meeting Larry Patrick, a Georgia Tech student who started the raft race several years ago. Storer became interested in making a film for TV (his father is chairman of the board of the Storer Broadcasting Co., owner and operator of a chain of TV stations) or for the college lecture circuit.
Before the 1971 race, Storer sent out six film crews to select good vantage points along the ten-mile course. The day of the race cameraman cruised along with the participants getting interviews. Another cameraman in a helicopter got fine shots from the air. In all, Storer found himself with more than 9,000 feet of film and about $50,000 invested.
Later Storer's cameraman returned to the river shooting closeup footage of plant and animal life.
During the 1972 race, they returned to get footage missed during the previous year's race. One of the things they were short on was shots of girls in bikinis, Storer recalls. The 1971 race drew 200,000 participants and spectators to the river, and a total of 4,700 craft of all descriptions competed in the race.
Patrick, founder of the race, admitted that his interest arose from his desire to see the river preserved as a natural resource and the fact that three years of the Raft Race had made rafting on the Chattahoochee one of the state's newest participation sports. The race also has led to the designation of the race route along the river as a state park by Governor Jimmy Carter.
[Boxoffice, July 24, 1972, p.SE-4)