Not all street stories are the same.
This story begs the question: How far would you go to do what you love?
Directed by Peter Diaz
Produced by Sandy Duarte
Co-produced by Mikhail Saavedra
A Hightflight Films/Alternavox Media production.
Robert Thomas Payne is a poet I met on the streets of Toronto one day while leaving a restaurant. When he first approached me I thought he was simply just another homeless man asking for change but all he asked for was a moment of my time. I walked over to him and he handed me a little street Zine he calls St. Elsewise which was little more than photocopied paper filled with his poetry and the poetry of others on the street who come to him as a means to get their work out there. He asked me to have a read which I did to be polite more than anything. What immediately stood out to me was how raw, honest, and haunting his words were. I immediately knew I needed to work with this gentleman but I had no idea how. I paid for the zine and off I went.
Fast forward a few months later, I got to talking to Sandy Duarte and Mikhail Saavedra about how I saw a video about an artist in New York who uses gun powder to create his art and how it might be interesting to shoot a little piece on an artist whom we all admire. Robert immediately came to mind and we set out to simply make a small little short about him just as a personal pet project. Well, after the first shoot we ended up with over an hour of great footage and we knew this project had potential to be much more than just a small short film. So over the past few months we have been shooting Robert as he goes about his daily life writing, going to poetry readings and selling his work on the street to get by. We just wanted to find answers to the many questions this man’s life asks. What makes a well educated man, of a sound mind, give up all earthly possessions and leave the societal grid to pursue his passion in life? Doesn’t he miss the life he used to have only 4 years ago when he was a publisher for a glossy government sponsored street magazine? And is it worth it, to have your life entirely devoted to your passion if that means sleeping in dark alleys at night? And would we be willing to give up everything we owned and cared about for our passions? Would we do that for anything? Would you?
Over the next few months we are going to be finishing up a couple more shoots with Robert and then we enter the editing room with the hope of putting the final touches on the film by the beginning of April 2010. So let’s keep in touch and lets see where his story takes us.