The Hubbard Legacy
hopes to release
documentary on Harlan,
Hubbard in spring
its support to the project
(January 2012) A film documentary titled A
Natural Wonder about the life and times of Harlan and Anna Hubbard
is nearing completion by a Louisville filmmaker who hopes to release
it sometime in spring 2012.
Morgan Atkinson has logged 30 years as a filmmaker, the past 25 running
his own film production company, Duckworks Inc. He works on commission
mostly but in this case has chosen to focus on the Hubbards in hopes
of getting the final product aired statewide on Kentucky Educational
Television and maybe even nationally on the Public Broadcast System.
He began working on the project last year with a goal of researching
and presenting the couple in a more personal way a way that has
not yet been seen by the public, he said.
filmmaker Morgan Atkinson
(right) and assistant Pete Neihardt cruise
along the river on the way to a filming
location for A Natural Wonder.
Harlan and Anna Hubbard lived solitary, simple lives in
Payne Hollow, nestled along the Ohio River in Trimble County, Ky. It
was in this quiet setting the Hubbards lived without electricity, farmed,
fished, read books and played classical music, he on a violin and she
on a baby grand piano. Harlan also painted and wrote his many books
there in the hollow, drawing inspiration from his natural surroundings.
The Hubbards died in the late 1980s Anna in 1986 and Harlan in
With the help of his film production company team, Atkinson has recreated
some scenes using actors to illustrate how the Hubbards lived. Actors
Mary Oliver Humke and David Harryman portrayed the Hubbards in a scene
showing them washing clothes and doing other chores along the banks
of a creek.
He also has re-enacted moving a grand piano through the woods to the
Hubbards house by filming a crew carrying a piano up a hill in Louisvilles
And in November, Atkinson traveled to Grand Rapids, Mich., to visit
Annas niece and nephew, Lynda and George Bartnick, to gather photographs
and some of Annas letters, which have never before been published.
At first I wondered why I am driving five hours to Grand Rapids,
but once I got there and met the Bartnicks, it was really worth the
trip, Atkinson said. I gained so much insight about Anna
from that visit with them.
Atkinson also has visited Harlans great niece, Polly Hubbard.
And he has traveled to Maysville, Ky., to visit the courthouse where
the Hubbards married in 1943. While there, he spent an afternoon with
a shantyboater named Mike Fletcher and gained insight to that lifestyle,
Atkinson and Fred Harbuck
discuss a shot of actor David
Harryman sketching by a creek.
Atkinson recently received major funding for the project
from the Rivers Institute at Hanover College. The institutes mission
includes the study of communities and life involving rivers, but the
Hubbard story has a special place at Hanover College, said the institutes
executive director Larry DeBuhr. The Hubbards used to check out books
at the college library; many Hanover College students have visited the
Hubbards over the years; and the college holds a large collection of
Harlans paintings at its Campus Center.
The Hubbards have a close connection to Hanover College and for
that reason we felt that this project was worthy of our support,
DeBuhr said. The Hubbards story is very closely tied to
this region and the river. It is an interesting story of how a couple
can live and survive a long period of time living off the land and the
Atkinson recently visited the Rivers Institute and showed DeBuhr and
his staff some of the raw footage he had shot. DeBuhr said the documentary
will indeed be a unique and personal approach to telling the Hubbards
Mary Oliver Humke recreates
a version of what laundry day may
have been like for the Hubbards.
Atkinson said the film will not have a narrator or on-camera
interviews with people who knew the Hubbards, but rather the voices
of actors reading the Hubbards own words. Even so, Atkinson said
he has interviewed off camera several people who were instrumental in
the Hubbards story. These include Madison, Ind., residents Paul
Hassfurder, Bob Canida, retired Dr. Marcella Modisett, Hanover College
professor Bob Rosenthal and former Hanover College professor Bill Keller.
Atkinson said he plans to spend time this spring wrapping up the project
by doing more research at the University of Louisville Archives, where
Harlans original manuscripts and letters are stored.
So far, what I have read re-affirmed the integrity of the two
individuals and the way they lived their lives, said Atkinson,
62. They definitely talked the talk and walked the walk of what
they believed. Its all very interesting to me.
Two previous KET documentaries have been done on the Hubbards the
first in 1980 by filmmaker John Morgan and the second in the mid-1990s
for KETs Kentucky Life series.
David Harryman (by bike)
writer-producer Morgan Atkinson and
director of photography Fred Harbuck
waiting on the sunrise.
Atkinson says the Hubbards lives were so inspirational
that it bears visiting again. He hopes that when completed, it could
be premiered at Madisons Ohio Theatre or at Hanover College.
Atkinson is a Louisville native and a University of Kentucky graduate
who has made dozens of films, with about 15 airing on KET and several
nationally on PBS. Recent productions have focused on Louisville musician
Tim Krekel, Anglo-American Catholic writer Thomas Merton and Black
Like Me author John Howard Griffin.
Atkinson is being assisted with research on the Hubbard project by a
close friend, John Kasey. In all, Atkinson trying to raise about $150,000,
which he says is what he needs to complete the project.
I dont pretend to live like the Hubbards and dont
think anyone would, he said. But we can all learn something
from their lives and incorporate it into our lives.
To learn more about Harlan and Anna Hubbard
and their lives, visit: www.HarlanHubbard.com.
To learn more about Morgan Atkinson and his film company, visit: www.MorganAtkinson.com.
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