It takes quite a man to do a documentary on Hunter S. Thompson. We’re talking determination, courage, patience and the willingness to be shot at and possibly thrown in jail. Wayne Ewing is such a man and his documentary is currently traveling the festival circuit. We caught up with Wayne to speak with him a bit about his “Breakfast With Hunter.”
How is it that you chose Hunter as the subject for a documentary?
Hunter was always one of my heroes and I happened to live just over the hill from him in the early eighties in Woody Creek, Colorado. It took many years to become trusted enough to make this film, but that process began in 1985.
Was it ever scary being so close to the man?
Of course, it’s always a bit scary being with Hunter. That’s part of the attraction. I have been shot at with a 12 gauge at very close range and lost part of my hearing in my left ear to a defective .44 Magnum Hunter shot too close to my head once. Then, there were always the threats from the outside to deal with as the “road manager,” including rabid fans, police, and irate hotel managers.
Any interesting encounters with Hunter that didn’t make it into the film?
I have many scenes of notable and interesting people visiting with Hunter in Woody Creek that did not fit in this theatrical release of “Breakfast with Hunter,” but that will probably be extra attractions in the DVD, which we are soon releasing. For example: Warren Zevon composing music with Hunter and then reading Hunter’s memoirs with him; Don Johnson reading Screwjack, Hunter’s pseudo-pornographic ode to his beloved cat; P.J. O’Rouke reading Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and then interviewing Hunter for two nights in the kitchen.
How many hours of footage did you shoot?
I shot about two hundred and fifty hours of video, and a bit of 16mm film.
What were some of the biggest challenges in getting this film made?
Staying sober and not being arrested.
How did you raise funding?
Until the editing and post-production began in the last few years, the costs were not too great except in terms of my time. Digital video is pretty cheap until you get to the end game, and for that my brother and Executive Producer, Andrew Ewing, has been extremely supportive. Andrew is a great friend of Hunter’s, as well.
Do you have any tips for aspiring documentary filmmakers?
My best advice for aspiring documentary filmmakers would be to find situations in which you might have remarkable and unusual access and then exploit it for all its worth.
Has Hunter seen the finished product? Does he like it?
Hunter has seen the film and is quite proud of it.
How does he feel about everyone involved with the film version of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”?
It’s always dangerous to presume to speak for Hunter, and I don’t, but I think Hunter feels everyone tried very hard to bring the book to life as a movie and that they succeeded remarkably well.
What are your plans for this film?
The film just started on the festival circuit at CineVegas in June, and is booked at festivals throughout the fall, including the International Documentary Association’s InFact Festival Tour that qualifies it for Academy Award consideration. A theatrical run will continue throughout the winter, and we will soon be releasing a DVD directly to the home video market using our website breakfastwithhunter.com.
Any other projects coming up?
I am always working as a director/cinematographer to pay for labors of love like “Breakfast with Hunter,” and my next will probably be a film about the next Presidential election. My first films, “If Elected…” (1972), “Early Returns” (1976) “Diary of a Dark Horse” (1980) were about politics, and I’d like to get back to the campaign trail.