Talent On Tap – Greg Crompton Returns to Eddy’s Kingdom

Have you ever wanted something so badly that the pursuit of it has consumed you to the point of isolation? It might be a material possession or a person that you can’t live without. The psychology behind our needs and wants has always perplexed me. What seems so significant to one might seem frivolous to another but that doesn’t really matter because you see the beauty and the value and that’s what matters. There’s always the idea that your sanity is threatened if you don’t achieve your pursuit of obtaining whatever it is you seek. I always believe health is number one and everyone else comes second. I also believe ones sanity is directly related to good health. 

Greg Crompton’s 85-minute documentary follows one mans pursuit that has lasted almost 50 years. Eddy’s Kingdom is the story of Eddy Haymour and the extreme, stranger-than-fiction methods he pursued to construct an island theme park in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. It focuses on a Lebanese-Canadian immigrant who straddles two cultures and who, in an effort to realize his dream, staged a weeklong hostage taking in the Canadian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. 

Artaban Productions is pleased to announce that the world premiere of the documentary Eddy’s Kingdom will screen at the Victoria Film Festival in Victoria, British Columbia with two screenings on February 11 and February 13, 2020. Produced by Greg Crompton and Tony Cerciello, this is Greg’s feature documentary directorial debut. This world premiere is a bit of a homecoming for Greg as he studied at the University of Victoria and received his degree in creative writing, majoring in scriptwriting and shooting his first films there.


“Is this your first feature documentary?”

“As a director/writer on my own it is. I co-directed one four years ago so this is the first with myself as the only director/writer.” 


“How long did the cameras follow Eddy?”

“We filmed in Edmonton where he lives now, we filmed with him in Victoria, we filmed in Kelowna, so about 15 days. There was a lot of research work in pre-production. I knew a lot of the story already but I think it’s important to allow the action to unfold onscreen so I wanted to put him in scenarios that would generate some emotions and excitement with his perspective and also for the plot.”


“How open was Eddy to the idea of the documentary?”

“He loves to talk about it. It’s amazing! We do a show called ‘BC Was Awesome’ and we made a 5-minute segment on that/his story and Eddy wasn’t available so we had to talk to his daughter. I think he saw it and thought, ‘these guys are telling a somewhat balanced version of my story, I’ll consider working with them’.  That’s pretty much how it happened. When we went to Edmonton and we’re hanging out he’d talk to anyone that would listen to him about the time he held up the Canadian Embassy in Beirut, how the government wronged him and he won in Supreme Court, he loves talking about it.” 


“How was your relationship with Eddy?”

“I’d say it was complex. He’s done some things that I wouldn’t be proud of but he’s also been wronged by the government and in Peachland, BC. I was upfront with him the entire time but also told him that we’re not interested in forgiving his past transgressions but we’d also talk about how he was wronged as well.  As many times as I’ve told him that, it seemed to surprise him when I’d ask him tough questions like, ‘people have called you a terrorist, how does that make you feel?’ He would get really angry that I’d ask him that on camera but in the end I felt like he understood that I wasn’t there to further his perception of the story but rather, the entire story.”      

“Why did you choose to tell the story in a way where the audience is forced to come up with their own judgment?”

“My intention was to present the facts and allow the audience to bring their own decision/opinion. The producer and editor were onboard for helping to facilitate that vision. In all the test screenings we’ve had I’m always surprised that there’s such a wide range of feelings toward Eddy. I didn’t want to go in there and vilify the man, nor did I want to defend him and have everyone feel sympathy for him. He’s a divisive character and it depends who you are and your sense of right and wrong, is going to determine how you react to him. I’m pretty happy with the consensus on whether or not he’s good or bad.”


“Did you decide to reserve the right to hold judgment from the beginning or after you looked at all the footage?” 

“I guess I was conflicted on how I felt about him but I didn’t think it would be one of the main takeaways. When we were discussing the arc of the story before filming we thought it could be Fadwa, his daughter and about coming to terms with her dad labeled a terrorist with a tendency to become quite violent in certain situations. It turned out to not be one of her concerns, but one of the concerns I hadn’t thought about is that he still wants the island back. That plot point/narrative just fell on my lap, which was great.”


“Is there anyone that can reason with Eddy, someone he’ll listen to?”

“Not that I’ve seen at least. There’s a journalist Omar, that wrote a story on Eddy 4 or 5 years ago and there’s a really good quote that I love that made it into the film. He said ‘maybe this guy’s delusional and still wanting his island back at almost 90 but when you look at what he’s done in his past, he’s done a lot of impossible things.’ He’s got a vision and he’s going for it no matter what. In the end people might say it shouldn’t matter if he still wants his island back but it’s really cost him his family because he’s ignored them to pursue his vision, so that’s been a bit of a downer. He lives alone and I think people look at him at think, if it keeps you busy then keep doing it.”


“Do you think it’s all about the fight that keeps him going or is it the actual island?”

“I haven’t talked to him too much on whether he likes the fight but what he often brings up is, this is about justice. ‘They took my island away from me. I beat them in the Supreme Court but they never gave me the island back, they gave me money. I still haven’t been given what I deserve.’ He talks about his childhood a lot and his understanding of right and wrong and I believe it’s that which informs his desire to attain perfect justice.  Let’s say he does get his island back, what would happen to him? Would he be satisfied with justice or would he want to remain in this confronted scenario? He’s also a bit of a charming guy as well, which I think had made him successful in a lot of ways. He’s not always an angry confrontational guy.”    

“What has this film made you realize or discover about the human spirit?”

“I am so impressed that this guy would hold up in an embassy over a small island, with nothing on it. It shocks me that he’s that driven and that determined. I guess it makes me realize that people will believe in something so strongly that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.”


“How long has his fight for the island been going on?” 

“He first saw the island back in the early 70’s, so it’s been about 50 years now. The journalist Omar had said that Eddy wants to be remembered, whether it’s the theme park on the island or a statue of himself that stands in front of his castle that’s pointing at the island. He’s very happy that the documentary is finished because it sort of memorializes him. Omar has a perspective that it’s a way for him to be remembered, no matter what. Whether it’s the island, the castle or the statue, it’s a way for him to leave his mark on the world.”     


“Was it difficult to continue with the story and did you ever feel like stopping?”

“No, no way. Everyone I talk to about it can’t believe it and always ask me to tell them more. Eddy has always wanted to do it and of course there were frustrating parts to it where I couldn’t get an interview with John Horgan on camera but we had the main character and that we had this documentary that we would tell the story the way we wanted to tell it. There was no way we were not finishing it.”  


“How does it feel to premiere the film in Victoria, where you studied screenwriting?”

“It’s awesome and so exciting. It’s so hard to know what the reaction will be and if it works. It’s so gratifying to see all the hard work pay off, especially in a place where my journey began is so satisfying.” 


“Do you want to continue making documentaries?”

“Yes, totally. I love it. It’s tricky to make documentaries because there’s not a lot of money in it and it’s difficult to find funding and broadcasters. It’s a challenge but we also do our history show, ‘BC Was Awesome’ and have fun with that. It’s about finding the right story and finding the funders; it’s definitely a passion.”

“Do you know if you want to stick with human subjects or do you want to go environmental?”

“Yes human. I’ve been pitching one on a family’s carbon footprint that would be an environmental flip with a human focus. I think any documentary that I would want to produce could be about facing a big issue in the world but needs a human face to access the heart of the story and make it matter to people.”


“Do you have distribution in place for the film?”

“Not currently but we are in talks with a distributor. We’re weighing our options right now and we’ve already had one offer but we’re going to wait until the end of the festival run to see the interest after that.”


“Where does the film go after Victoria?”

“We’ve applied to approx. 20 different festivals at this point and we’d love to be showing it at festivals all over the world. They should all start getting back to us in the next month or two. Because there’s no film festival in Kelowna, I’m going to do a few screenings at the movie theatre. When we had announced that it would be playing in Victoria, we had so many people from Kelowna including the press, enquiring to find out when it was going to be showing there. It’s a unique folklore story that nobody’s told yet and people there really want to see it. I’m hoping that will be in June.”


“Roller-skating or skateboarding?”  

“Oh, that’s a tough one. I’ll go with skateboarding. I’ve roller-skated when I was younger but it’s been about 30 years. There was a place called The Boardwalk in Kelowna but it closed down in the 1990’s.”  


It was a pleasure talking to Greg Crompton about the making of his first feature documentary. I love documentaries and the information one can extract from a film. I always have so much respect for the filmmaker in their pursuit to get to the truth and to find the heart of the story behind every subject and every issue. I am always grateful to be able to have a part in sharing their films through Hollywood North Magazine.


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