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April 14, 2013 | posted in Filmmakers
In the early 1960s, Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark crossed paths in Greenwich Village. Today, they reunite to combine their story through hundreds of letters, family movies, and photographs into one, all encompassing book. Their vibrant personalities and deep reflection is what drew Treva Wurmfeld to the story.
“Shepard and Dark” is the documentary directed by Wurmfeld that explores the history of these two men.
“Both men are writers,” Wurmfeld says. “Despite their differences, they both kept this incredible shared history. Johnny and Sam were already working on this book project when I started,” she continues. “In that sense the story’s focus was kind of there already, a real life play.”
Shepard is a Pultizer Prize winning playwright. Wurmfeld loved the idea of making a Shepard play from non-fiction. “[The filmmaking process] was aided in the fact that they were characters in themselves. It became very clear that the inspiration was how the two related to one another in real life.”
And her characters were involved in their on-screen development. “These are guys who have a lot of allure,” says Wurmfeld. “They knew how to construct their own images. Because they knew it and I knew it, they played a big role in how they were portrayed.”
It wasn’t easy for Wurmfeld to delve into such intimate detail, however, and was forced to make herself as vulnerable as her subjects. “I hadn’t ever done anything like this before,” she says. “I had to build a protective layer around myself to make this film. You have to kind of nurture your relationships with your subjects to get that intimate content and that wasn’t always easy.”
Though serious in nature, Wurmfeld says people genuinely laugh throughout the film. “There is comedy everywhere but it is honest and it makes people want to think about their own lives.”
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