Synopsis by Mark Deming
Billy Pappas was born in Baltimore and raised by a working class family, but in his youth Billy developed a passionate interest in drawing, and received a degree in art. Supporting himself as a bartender and waiter, Pappas got an idea for an unusual project -- wanting to take drawing to a place beyond either photography or traditional portraiture, he began working on a hyper-detailed image of Marilyn Monroe that took him eight and a half years of full work days to complete. Helping support Pappas during work on his obsessive project were his doting mother Cookie Pappas, Billy's former high school principal Brother Rene, and an architect and self-styled patron of the arts Larry Link. As Pappas labored over his picture of Marilyn, both he and Link became convinced they needed to show the drawing to the celebrated painter, designer and photo-collage artist David Hockney, who they were certain would appreciate Pappas's creative vision and help him find a market for his work. Filmmaker Julie Checkoway heard about Pappas and his unusual project from Dr. Gary Vikan, director of a prestigious Baltimore art museum, and she began documenting Billy's unique creative process and the unique retinue of friends and supporters who surrounded him, as well as Pappas and Link's determined efforts to reach and set up a meeting with David Hockney. The result is the documentary Waiting For Hockney, which in addition to demonstrating the nuts and bolts behind Pappas's work captures the spirit of commitment among him and his friends, as well as his fixation on Hockney as the key to his success. Waiting For Hockney was an official entry at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.