New documentary promises more grit than goosh

Heidi Wicks
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Documentary

He's been invading the hearts and minds of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians for decades - capturing the true essence of tragedy and love and everything in between, in the form of songful stories.

A new full-length documentary about the life and times of Ron Hynes is being produced, and will be released sometime in the fall of 2010.

He's been invading the hearts and minds of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians for decades - capturing the true essence of tragedy and love and everything in between, in the form of songful stories.

A new full-length documentary about the life and times of Ron Hynes is being produced, and will be released sometime in the fall of 2010.

The film is essentially a black box interrogation of the three sides of Ron Hynes' life, delving into gritty and tumultuous terrain, according to director Bill MacGillivray. We get to see Ron Hynes - the real man, the performer, and the dark side. Throughout the film are interviews with streeters (including a heartfelt but wry and insightful sequence with Ron's nephew, writer/actor Joel Thomas Hynes). Interspersed throughout the film are performances from various venues including the Fat Cat, The Ship and from a TV special (made by MacGillivray, which will air on CBC this fall).

Heidi Wicks (HW): How did this documentary initially get in the works?

Bill MacGillivray (BM): Like most people interested in good music, we had been aware of Ron for some time. We'd seen him perform in St. John's and of course we'd heard the stories. The documentary itself started simply by asking Ron and his manager, Lynn Horne, if Ron might be interested in having a documentary made. Once interest was established we began the long road to raising the money. It took three years.

To our surprise and dismay, most of the national broadcasters and funding agencies we approached claimed that Ron was not well enough known to warrant a feature-length film. This was further complicated by the fact Rosemary House had released a film about Ron some time before, so it was easy for them to say, "besides, there already is a film about Ron."

We eventually came across a new broadcaster, Super Channel. Through the assistance of their Nova Scotia representative and much negotiation, we finally secured a national broadcast licence that formed a significant part of our budget. Once it seemed like the project might go ahead, we teamed up with Get Set Films (Jordan Canning) to create a single purpose company, Primitive Thunder Productions, and the ball gradually began to roll.

HW: Since Ron Hynes has become somewhat of an icon of NL music, was it at all intimidating to approach this subject/person?

BM: Approaching Ron was not difficult. As everyone knows, he is very approachable. But coming to terms with the story we wanted to tell was not easy. The thing we did not want to do was make a glowing, mushy 'Life and Times'. Nor did we want to revisit territory covered by Rosemary's film. And so, through several discussions with Ron it was agreed that we would tell the 'hard' story and do so in a way that took full advantage of his abilities as a storyteller, poet and actor as much as a singer/songwriter.

We created a black box situation and 'interrogated' Ron for three days with an exhaustive stare-down-the-lens interview full of humour, anger, recollections, addictions, sorrows, insights, hope and lots more humour. This forms the spine of the film. It is supplemented with some very personable and humourous 'behind the scenes' footage shot in a television studio in Halifax during the production of our TV Special with an audience of 100 people, called Ron Hynes - solo. And this footage also includes sequences with Amelia Curran - his guest in the special (which will be broadcast on CBC during this fall).

HW: Can you give us any specifics on what you discuss with Ron?

BM: As mentioned before, we talk at length about the many sides of Ron Hynes and The Three Sides of Ron Hynes certainly evolves as a focus - the conflicts that arise between Ron the 'every man,' Ron the professional performer and finally, the dark side ... The Man of a Thousand Songs. It makes for a fascinating film. I think that those who know Ron will recognize the real Ron; the one they have witnessed and followed over the years - charming, caring, quick-witted, egocentric, a sometimes troubled man with an immense talent. Those who only know the music will have a true insight into the genesis of the songs that they have grown to love. Both groups should be pleased with the number and quality of the on-screen performances.

The Man Of A Thousand Songs will be released in Fall 2010. Keep checking Wicks on Flix for further release date details.

Heidi Wicks writes the blog "Wicks on Flix." Read it at www.thetelegram.com.

Organizations: CBC, Fat Cat, Rosemary House Get Set Films Jordan Canning

Geographic location: St. John's, Nova Scotia, Halifax

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