When I signed on to do social media promotions for VM Productions documentary Dostoyevsky Reimagined: The Making of Notes from the New World (Dostoyevsky Reimainged – BTS) I thought it would be fun. I have friends who work in movies and TV and the stories they tell about their jobs have always been fascinating, to say the least. So when there was an opportunity to join this industry, I had to say yes.
I started reviewing all the information on VM Productions documentary so I could be well informed about the film I was set to promote. What I found was so much more than I expected.
To begin, producer/director Vitaly Sumin has taken on a very daunting project. He is attempting to make modern adaptations of the classic works of Dostoyevsky. He has already produced and directed films based on Dostoyevsky masterpieces.
- 2011 – Noted from the New World – based on Notes from the Underground
- 2013 – Shades of Day – DIRECTOR’S CUT – based on White Nights
Both films are multiple award winners. A documentary about the process to create such an acclaimed film would be fascinating just based on the work involved. But the more I read about the events that occurred during the filming of Notes from the New World the more I was convinced that this was a singular experience that could never have been predicted or imagined and must be shared.
As a student of forensic criminology, I was immediately drawn to the true crime elements which occurred behind the scenes while they were making Notes from the New World. A writer disappears, cast and crew search for the shooting script in his abandoned apartment only to discover a journal filled with disturbing information and sketches.
The writer is Robert Hurley. Hurley’s birth place is unknown but he was raised in an orphanage in Culver City, CA. Growing up Hurley had always wanted to be a writer but put that desire aside. He chose instead to attended the University of Southern California where he earned a master’s degree in computer science.
Hurley’s career as a computer engineer was short lived. He decided to follow his passion and started to seek out venues for his writing. While attending the New Playwrights Foundation, Hurley met Vitaly Sumin.
The two men became friends and began to collaborate on Sumin’s vision of creating modern adaptations of Dostoyevsky’s novels. Hurley began churning out rough drafts for Notes from the New World. This movie weaves an intricate tale about a young man who meets a prostitute who is pretending to be Russian and has ties to the Russian mafia.
Rumors began to spread that Hurley was in fact using his own life experiences as the basis for the movie’s plot. There was mention of the occult and alleged involvement with a secret society. As rumors spread, Hurley began to distance himself from everyone involved in the production except for Sumin.
There came a time when Hurley was in possession of the only shooting script for the film. It was at this time when he seemingly cut ties with the production. For weeks various attempts were made to contact him, but they proved fruitless. The film was stalled until Sumin could retrieve the shooting script.
Thanks to Hurley’s girlfriend, Julia, Sumin was able to acquire a key to Hurley’s apartment. Members of the cast and crew went with Sumin to retrieve the shooting script so the production could continue. With the mysterious circumstances surrounding Hurley’s absence, the cast and crew decided to film their movements for their own protection and possible evidence, should it be needed.
Hurley’s apartment appeared to have been abandoned. What they found inside only deepened the mystery. While searching for the script, a journal was discovered. In it were numerous entries scribbled in Hurley’s handwriting along with sketches illustrating bizarre images of possible crimes, cults, and conspiracies.
Were these entries true or was he working out plots for his script? Could he have seen rituals performed by a secret society that put his safety in question? Could the prostitute he mentions in the journals have information about Hurley’s disappearance? So many new questions and very few answers.
In the next few weeks, I will explore more details of the events surrounding the disappearance of Robert Hurley and the alleged true-crime activities surrounding it. The most important thing to keep in mind is he is still missing. If you have any information that could lead to the whereabouts of Robert Hurley please contact VM Productions by clicking here. His friends still hold out hope that one day they will learn what has happened to him.