DERIK Murray has made documentaries about Bruce Lee, Evel Knievel and Steve McQueen, but for the first time considered his subject a co-director when he delved into the life of Perth boy Heath Ledger.
I Am Heath Ledger, which has its Australian premiere at Luna Leederville on May 9, features extensive home video footage shot by the former Guildford Grammar student, Hollywood star and Oscar winner who died at age 28 on January 22, 2008.
Speaking to Community Newspaper Group from Los Angeles hours after it screened, Murray said the footage motivated the content of the documentary and the line of questioning with his interviewees.
“I have never before been involved in a project in which I considered the subject to be a co-director; Heath was so prolific in how he documented his life,” he said.
“We met his friend Matt Amatto, who shared with us that Heath turned the camera on himself all the time and showed us some footage.
“We made our mission clear that we wanted to celebrate his life and his genius, and we received a multitude of drives of Heath’s footage from family, friends and the estate.”
Among those interviewed in the documentary are Ledger’s mum Sally, dad Kim, sisters, childhood friends and celebrity peers, including Ben Mendelsohn and Naomi Watts.
One person notably missing from the documentary is Ledger’s former girlfriend and the mother of his daughter Matilda, Michelle Williams.
“We asked Michelle if she would like to be involved and told her she did not have to decide right away, but she respectfully let us know from the beginning she was not comfortable being interviewed,” Murray said.
“She was supportive of the documentary, and that was so meaningful to us.
“Michelle has been supplied with a copy of the documentary to watch at her own leisure.”
I Am Heath Ledger has a one-week theatrical release at Luna Leederville and Luna on SX from May 11 to 17.