As always, Plimpton will have some esteemed company to help him tell it, including interviews with filmmakers such as Albert Maysles and Ken Burns, novelists Jay McInerney and Gay Talese, and countless others ranging from Robert Kennedy Jr. to Hugh Hefner. It’s the kind of variety that defined Plimpton’s life and led Poling and Bean to collaborate on their first documentary together after first meeting as production assistants in Boston in 2004. Separately, the two have doc experience – Bean is still working out a distribution plan for his film about the Iranian hostage crisis and Poling worked on “The Fog of War” before directing a segment of the 2008 New England-set omnibus “Twelve.” Given that Plimpton’s life was often stranger than fiction, the challenge here wasn’t finding ways to liven it up, but rather to figure out how to contain it to the standard feature length.
“Just as a fan of George’s, it hit me one afternoon that this guy’s life would make a really good documentary, something that you almost couldn’t dramatize because it was almost too good and too rich, nobody would believe it,” says Poling. “The hardest part was really kind of finding that balance between the sports and the movies and the entertainment as well as The Paris Review, which is really his big lifelong pursuit and love.”
Despite the fact that Plimpton passed away in 2003, it’s notable that Poling keeps referring to him in the present tense, which is surely where talk about his exploits as a Playboy photographer, a confidant of presidents and that one time he played God (in the little-seen 1989 comedy “A Fool and His Money”) will live on after the release of “Plimpton!” Currently in the process of submitting to film festivals, the filmmakers are hoping to get “Plimpton!” in theaters this winter.
“Our ideal one would be to do a theatrical distribution, just because we know how well the story will play in a roomful of people on a Saturday night who want to hear a good story,” says Poling. “We’d just love to have as many people join the party as possible.”
To back this project and to see video from the production, visit the Kickstarter page for “Plimpton!” here. And stay connected with the film’s progress on Facebook, Twitter, and the film’s official site.