His mother wasLatvianand his father, Arnold Rebane, wasEstonian.He attended school in post-war Germany as a child, becoming conversant in four languages: Estonian, Latvian, German and Russian. By watching American cinema, hewas able to master English.
Rebane is credited with the introduction of the first 360 degree (wrap around) motion picture process to the Motion Picture Industry of the world, an innovation that spurredthe Cinemax process and today's Rotascope cameras; as the creator of the WisconsinFilm Office; as the producer, director, writer, and cinematographer on 12 independentfeature films, all of which have enjoyed successful international theatrical release; as producer/director of one of the fifty top-grossing films 1975 (
,$23 million gross in 1975); as having produced, directed, edited, and production designed at least one hundred commercial, industrial, corporate image,documentary or promotion films; and for the creation and successful operation of thefirst full-time feature film studio in the Midwest for over 30 years.
Rebane's first positions in media included working for WGN-TVin Chicago, where heworked his way through the ranks, beginning with a position in the mailroom, and thenas floor manager, assistant producer, and assistant to executive producer .
Rebane returned to Germany at age 19, where he met and worked with producer Adalbert Baltesof Hamburg,Germany. Rebane credits working with Baltes as his startin the film industry. After working with Baltes as a production assistant, assistantdirector, and director on various 'Cinema Scope Theatrical Short Subjects' for 'BaltesFilm', Rebane obtained the U.S. rights to the 'Cinetarium' circular motion picture process.
Rebane returned to the U.S. and introduced the proprietary process to the world filmindustry through 'United Film and Recording Studios' in Chicago, attracting suchnotables asSamuel Goldwyn,Roy Disney,Jack Warner ,Hugh Hefner ,andMichaelToddJr. to the process, along with industry professionals from Russia, central Europeand Japan.By age 22, Rebane was a millionaire. However, his early wealth was temporary, ascosts of patents, legal fees, and research into means to manufacture vertical projectionsystems, were at the time beyond the financial means of the companies he had formedfor development of the process.
Early film production
Rebane then turned to film production. His first independent production effort was theten-minute musical theatrical short subject called
which was purchased byAmerican International Pictures.The film became an international success boththeatrically and financially, and enjoyed a 10-week holdover at theOriental Theater inChicago, which until that time, was an unheard phenomenon for independent shortsubject theatrical productions. The film earned twenty times its production cost.Rebane followed this success with a 20-minute theatrical musical short titled