An Interview With Documentary Filmmaker Kim Furst
By Maxine Scheer
In recent years, EAA's AirVenture has seen increased participation from filmmakers producing new aviation-themed features, television and documentaries. In preparing for AirVenture 2014, one project in particular caught my attention - creating a documentary film that rises to the contributions of an aviation legend Robert A. "Bob" Hoover. The film is titled "Flying The Feathered Edge."
I reached out to the talented Producer/Director/Editor behind the project, Ms. Kim Furst. We met at the Bob Hoover Jet Center at Van Nuys Airport (VNY) to talk about her experience making the film, and goals for 'the project'.
Kim's resume notes an impressive filmmaking career that began over 20 years ago and brings experience crafting award-winning projects for a general audience, many featuring leading actors such as Robert Redford, and actor/pilots, Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford.
Furst described 'getting hooked on aviation and aerospace' in 2003, editing a three-part series on Rockets for the Discovery Channel that included a 'knock-out interview' with designer Burt Rutan. The general aviation audience will recognize Kim's talent as Editor of the beloved documentary about VNY, "One Six Right".
"By 2010, Furst was looking to produce and direct an inspiring feature documentary. "A door was opened to Bob Hoover by mutual friend and protégé of Bob - aerobatic pilot, Sean D. Tucker." Shortly after a memorable dinner meeting, Kim pitched a concept, Bob agreed, and in a few weeks the team began filming - joining Bob at conferences of F100/F86 pilots, held in Las Vegas.
"Bob was especially concerned about attention to detail and wanted everything to be accurate," as Furst described the process of fact checking through tens of thousands of photos, records and film discovered through not only Hoover's personal collections, but in online and physical archives (Tennessee, Ohio, Florida, Washington D.C., the National Archives, multiple regional Air Force archives), other national and internationals sources, as well as individuals who heard about the project.
"The son of an aeronautical engineer and executive who worked at North American Aviation (NAA) for over 40 years called Bob when he heard about the film," said Kim. "We went through his father's hangar in Torrance, California, and found hundreds of cans of film. While most of it was destroyed by heat, some was useable."
Kim described this very rare material from NAA as "spectacular."
"The biggest thrill after three years of working elbow to elbow with Bob Hoover was his response when he saw the finished film," said Furst. "The way he put it to me was, 'the film is the way I always hoped it would be'."
"There are a number of excellent films documenting Bob's career," said Furst, "but, 'Flying The Feathered Edge' is definitely different." The 82-minute film has an original musical score by an Emmy Award winning composer, David Cottrell," and Kim describes the team (photography, color, and sound) all as "top talent."
"The stories are told by other legends of the aviation community - people whose careers were influenced by Bob," she said. "There is no narrator; interviews, music and footage carry the story."
In addition to Bob Hoover, 'Flying The Feathered Edge' also features Harrison Ford, Carroll Shelby, Dick and Burt Rutan, Medal of Honor recipient Col. Bud Day, Gene Cernan, Clay Lacy, General J.R. "Jack" Dailey and Sean D. Tucker.
Interested in Bob's story being successful not just within the aviation industry but with a general audience, Furst shared the film with small groups of young people and professionals with little to no aviation background. "What came up was how the film provided a look into the industry, and rather than seeing just risk taking, they saw how Bob's unique touch in pushing the flight envelope helped make aviation safer. Also, Bob's story is not just an aviation story, but a story about an inspiring individual with integrity which a general audience responds to," said Kim. "They also loved his charm and humor."
After three years of hard work, and thousands of hours of editing and aviation-dues paying by Kim and her dedicated team, Bob Hoover has signed the logbook of "Flying The Feathered Edge". The completed film, its Producer/Director, Kim Furst, and Mr. Bob Hoover himself, are on their way to AirVenture 2014.
"Bob will be making his rounds at various events, such as the "Warbirds in Review" said Furst, "but the film screening at AirVenture is a private preview limited to those who participated in the film, and Bob's invited guests." The next leg is festivals, reviews, raising capital, contracts, and hopefully distribution to a broad audience.
Individuals interested in "Flying The Feathered Edge", can track the film and festival schedules on the project website, on Facebook and Twitter. Kim Furst hopes DVDs will be available by December 2014.
When asked about future phases, Kim noted there was significant content to justify more filmmaking about Bob Hoover. Discussions are underway.
(Images used with permission)