Sam Hunt and the view from the edge of the cliff
Wellington film-makers Tim Rose and Jim Scott put their friendship with New Zealand's best-known poet on the line when they made a film about his life.
Sam Hunt: Purple Balloon is showing in Wellington this week at the New Zealand International Film Festival.
Over the course of five years Rose and Scott interviewed friends, family, colleagues and contemporaries of Hunt, to create a personal montage of his life.
The documentary was mostly self-funded, although the Film Commission gave them a grant after seeing the rough cut.
Rose said the idea of the documentary came while he was filming Hunt reading a series of his poems on camera, for a planned DVD.
"In the making of that I realised it needed a companion piece, which is the documentary – how Sam views the world, and how the world views him."
The film premiered in Auckland last week and, although Rose and Scott were pleased with the way the film turned out, they were aware it could have ended their friendship with Hunt. "It was heart-pounding at times, parts of it are pretty close to the bone," Rose said.
They need not have worried.
Hunt described the feeling of watching the documentary about himself as "sort of like a This Is Your Life, but without all the bullshit.
"When it's not your own baby, you don't have that degree of control, but I had at the same time complete trust.
"I've known Tim for about 200 years, and Jim for about half that."
He was particularly moved by scenes of his mother, who has since died. "She came on and I suddenly thought, `I'm not going to survive this.' It was like she'd just walked into the room."
Both the film-makers and their subject had concerns about the film's reception, but Hunt said that nervousness was par for the course.
"I always say I like the edge of cliffs. They're scary places to be but you get a bloody good view."
The Dominion Post