Kay Boyle Film Blog Part Two

Here is this weeks Blog Post on the origins of my film about Kay Boyle.

Origins of the film

Kay Boyle, Laurence Vail and Sharon(?) France 1930’s

I started researching American Expatriates for a documentary film in 1982. I knew people who lived outside of the US for many reasons and I thought it would make an interesting documentary especially since we were living under Reagan. (Little did I know what was to come…)

I was researching American Expatriates in Paris in the 1920’s and I kept coming across the name, Kay Boyle. I always thought I was well read but I had no idea who this woman was, so I started doing more research. (See Kay’s brief bio – http://www.angryfilmmaker.com/dangerous-kay-boyle/a-brief-biography/)

It seemed like Kay had been everywhere. Here was a person who had witnessed and written about so many major events of the 20th Century and she was virtually unknown.

I was talking to a friend of mine, a poet and playwright, and told her about Kay Boyle. She said, “Oh yeah, Kay lives in Springfield. We had her up here for one of our poetry events.” I was floored. Kay was living 100 miles away?

Through friends I got her address and a phone number. I wrote a letter telling her who I was and that I was interested in making a documentary about American Expatriates and would she consent to an interview? I sent the letter off and waited a week. Then I called her phone number.

It was disconnected! I couldn’t believe it. I had come so close. My biggest fear was that she had passed away. I knew she was in her 80’s. I was depressed. So close. (This was to be a re-occurring theme for the making of this film.)

Later that day I went to my post office box and there was a letter from her. Her handwriting was very impressive, a joy to look at.

She had just moved back to the Bay Area (Oakland) and if I was ever down there she would love to talk to me about Paris in the 20’s and the whole expatriate thing. I was elated!

Three weeks later I called Kay and told her I was going to be in San Francisco and could we meet? She told me she was quite busy getting a book review out for the New York Times but she would spare a little time, an hour.

Quite busy? Only an hour? She was in her 80’s how busy could she be? I soon learned that Kay was always busy, that’s what kept her going.

I don’t remember much about the first time I met Kay. We went out for coffee in her neighborhood and talked about lots of things. I do remember that she wouldn’t (or didn’t) agree to participate in my film. She wanted to think about it.

I’m sure she saw this young guy she had never heard of talking about making films and she’d probably heard all of this before. I don’t know what kind of an impression I made on her, but she made quite an impression on me. It was amazing.

Here was a living link to Paris in the 1920’s. She was very open about many things, very opinionated, and I learned in that first conversation not to bring up the name, Ernest Hemingway! Or, as she referred to him, “That Bastard.”

I’ll continue updating this every week.

And if you want to donate to this film here’s your chance.


Thank you.