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April 10, 2013 | posted in Filmmakers
Luke Poling and Tom Bean were fans of George Plimpton because "we really liked his writing," says Poling. As a youngster, Poling read Open Net—Plimpton's book about an amateur attending hockey training camp with the Boston Bruins—because he was a Bruins fan. Then he read The Man in the Flying Lawn Chair, a collection of essays that were published after Plimpton's death.
The stories in the book "re-ignited my love of his work," says Poling.
Poling and Bean researched and catalogued Plimpton’s life and his work. The two co-wrote and co-directed "Plimpton!" a documentary of this prolific writer, actor, founder of the Paris Review literary magazine, and "one-of-a-kind person." The two had written together for a few years before starting this documentary project, so they knew they were a good team.
"Any documentary is kind of like solving a puzzle," says Poling. "So it was nice to have someone alongside to help work it out with you."
Plimpton's career spanned many years and 2013 marks the tenth anniversary of his death. There is still much more Plimpton to get to know, even if one is familiar with one of his books or from his work at The Paris Review,
"George was around in the public eye for so long that there are many different routes to finding out about George," Poling says.
Poling also assures us that even if you don't know who George Plimpton was, he says, "our movie is a good place to start." It is a film for all ages and all interests. So unless "you aren't at all interested in literature, football, Hemingway, JFK, The Simpsons, the circus, music, hockey, parties, or trying to live the most interesting life possible, you may not enjoy our movie," he says.
Poling and Bean took five years to complete the movie and combed through hundreds of hours of video, film, audio recordings, photos and papers of Plimpton. Throughout the filmmaking process, they had the support and encouragement from George's family and were given access to Plimpton's archives.
Because Plimpton himself was a storyteller, the two decided to have George tell his own story. "Posthumously crafting a narration took a while," says Poling, "but I think it pays off because George is such an engaging person."
And Poling loved meeting all of Plimpton's friends, who were so willing to talk to the two filmmakers about their friend. He thought it was nice that they were "doing one more favor for their friend." When he mentioned that to Freddy, Plimpton's first wife, she said "I think they just want to bring him back for an hour."
The filmmakers became very quickly aware of what some might call "the cult of Plimpton."
"I think the friends and fans who loved him were excited to see a way to introduce or re-introduce him to people," says Poling.
--Anne M. DiTeodoro
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