Sam Hunt: Purple Balloon and other stories will be showing nationwide in May 2011.
A FEATURE LENGTH DOCUMENTARY ABOUT SAM HUNT
DIRECTED BY TIM ROSE
Produced by Jim Scott and Tim Rose
For forty years Sam Hunt has been a force in New Zealand poetry and culture. He is a storyteller who has spent his life struggling with his, often very public demons. In that journey he has gone from outcast to icon, he has crossed paths with outlaws, Prime Ministers, literary and artistic giants and the public.
Sam Hunt – Purple Balloon and other stories is a biographical documentary that also explores how Sam reflects the New Zealand landscape – literary and physical. The film examines what has made him a great poet and an enigma.
Sam is undoubtedly our best known poet, by far the best exponent of performance poetry and one of the most recognisable kiwis alive today. After a writing career that spanned forty years he has been thrust back into the limelight. Last year he published his 15th book of poems, was invited to open for Leonard Cohen at his New Zealand concerts after a personal recommendation from Bob Dylan. Also last year he produced a CD collaboration, Falling Debris, with David Kilgour. The music from this collaboration features prominently in Sam Hunt – Purple Balloon and other stories. Last year he also published a collection of poems by JK Baxter and will release a new collection of poems, Chords, in conjunction with the cinematic release of Purple Balloon and other stories.
But what do we really know about this man who has strutted our stages and streets for so long? Not a lot. On the one hand he has the public persona of an unkempt larrikin, and yes, that is part of the story, but only part of it.
At 63, and while he is still able to strut his stuff, it is time that his story is told and he has agreed to allow Tim Rose to do just that. It is because of their relationship that Sam is prepared to allow us to meet the man behind the bravado, the man who struggles between the extremities, fights with his demons and who has had a lifelong love affair with words.
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT AND VISION
“I have known Sam Hunt since I was a young boy, he used to take me out fishing on the Pauatahanui inlet, and he is both a friend and confidante.
Each time with Sam is special, commonly Sam the raconteur would recount a story and this would develop into a poem. I had a burning desire to be able to share this experience, to capture some of these moments on film for others to share. That is how I started on this odyssey.
Sam claims he is no great poet, just a man telling a story – “tell the story, tell it, true, and charm it crazy” is his motto. Sam has been acknowledged by great NZ poets such as JK Baxter, CK Stead and Denis Glover who have dedicated poems to him. Bob Dylan recommended Sam as a support act to Leonard Cohen when Cohen toured here recently. It is obvious there is more to this New Zealand icon than the larrikin or buffoon image that is so often imitated or parodied. My vision for this film is to combine the elements that have endeared him to the public with an insightful and revealing view of Sam’s world and to let him tell us why and how his life has been subjugated to poetry.
Jim Scott and I have been filmed Sam over a period of four years.
We have the film in a variety of formats, 35mm, 16mm, Super 8 and HD and am aware the archival footage we have used is also on a variety of formats. The use of different formats is an intentional device, with 35mm used for more formal poetry to camera setups; 16mm for interviews with Sam at home; HD for more informal situations such as recording music with David Kilgour and interviews with others; the Super 8 I am using as a ‘memory’ device, as Sam recalls his childhood. The mixed formats give the viewer a sense of passing time and literally present Sam Hunt in different light – a true cinematic experience.
We have already captured an intimate and provocative portrait of this unique New Zealander, our interviews being enhanced by and interlaced with the rich store of archival footage that is at our disposal. I am aware there have been a few documentaries made with Sam and others as their subject matter but they have generally been documents of tours. Sam Hunt- Purple Balloon and other stories is an intimate look into how the man became a kiwi icon. It is both homage to how he has influenced my life (the subtext of the film) and how he has influenced the lives of thousands of New Zealanders. This may sound a little high-minded, but I truly believe Sam Hunt, through his dogged and unerring belief in the power of poetry (both his own and others) and through his maverick persona has opened the doors to the world of literature to a great number New Zealanders, our audience.
Sam Hunt has an important place in New Zealand literature and in turn, New Zealand literature has an important place in New Zealand cinema. I want to make the audience of this film aware of the symbiotic relationship between film and the literary landscape. Through a stream of consciousness style of film editing which mirrors Sam’s own thought process, my intention is for the film to draw/ mesmerise the viewer into Sam’s world.
Sam Hunt- Purple Balloon and other stories, is by no means a glossy saccharine idolising of the poet. It is a warts and all look at both how and why Sam Hunt is who he is.
Our experiences with Sam have been filled with joy, sadness, insight, embarrassment and always an overriding sense of humour. My vision is for this film to capture all these emotions.
We have an exciting film that will have an audience reappraising the Hunt enigma.
Sam Hunt has earned his place in the consciousness of the New Zealand public but he does not take his place in the New Zealand landscape lightly. Sam hasn’t sought the fame or recognition he now enjoys – he has just been doing what he loves to do – creating and reciting poems. Sam has never been seduced by mammon – poems are his currency.
In the words of the late Peter Smart: ‘Sam Hunt is important to us because he is that extraordinary, rare person – someone who is prepared to illustrate with his life the value of poetry and the making of poems.’ Sam Hunt- Purple Balloon and other storieswill confirm this statement and shine a fresh light on Sam’s often misunderstood path.”
Tim Rose, 2010