‘Val’ directors Ting Poo and Leo Scott on telling Val Kilmer’s life story ‘through his lens’

For the past 40 years, Val Kilmer has been recording all aspects of his life — everything from his childhood to his acting career to his struggles with throat cancer. Now, Kilmer’s “mountain of tapes” have been made into an Amazon documentary from directors Ting Poo and Leo Scott, titled “Val.” After Kilmer’s cancer went into remission, they approached him with a “bigger idea about making a story about his entire life and career, told through his lens,” the filmmakers tell Gold Derby in our Meet the Experts: Documentary panel (watch the exclusive video interview above).

Scott reveals about Kilmer’s thousands of hours of footage, “He was having it stored properly, but it was a source of stress in a way,” because “some of these formats were probably decaying, becoming obsolete.” Kilmer started recording his life from an early age, with Scott explaining, “He and his brothers were making movies when they were kids and there were even old film reels back then that hadn’t even been seen or transferred.”

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Poo remarks how “Val” is really “a story about a storyteller.” She adds, “As filmmakers it was just kind of rife with all of those layers of somebody who’s been making films but also been trying to tell meaningful stories their entire lives. The layers between that and his arc as a human being and his own story was just fascinating to us.”

Kilmer’s son Jack Kilmer is the narrator of the project, and he was “up for doing some tests very early on,” notes Scott. “Maybe at the beginning he didn’t know this was ever gonna be a film. Just because we’re setting out to make a film doesn’t mean that we’re actually gonna succeed. He’s a really curious and creative person and he was a great partner to have along, because he really did add something special.”

Also in our exclusive video interview, the directors talk about how “nothing was off the table” when it came to including footage from Kilmer’s life into “Val.” They also give an update on the future of his acting career, teasing, “He’s always got things going on.”

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