Interview with Filmmaker Brittany Peterson (THE LONGEST RACE)

THE LONGEST RACE played to rave reviews at the October 2021 DOCUMENTARY Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The pandemic was starting, but I was determined to make my first independent documentary that year anyways. A marathon runner and triathlete myself, I was drawn to the narrative of an athlete who was navigating the challenges presented by Covid…questions like where to scale back, and where to focus in. When I learned of Chris and Tamari’s stories, DC ultramarathon runners who don’t know each other, I noticed their interweaving narratives. Their goals were ambitious, yet they would not relinquish them when the pandemic struck. They became incredibly flexible in how they approached them, adjusting, but not quitting, revamping their plans and redefining what success would look like that year. I think I just wanted to soak up that positivity in an otherwise dark time. The project, and following their journeys gave me something to look forward to in an otherwise lonely time.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

A little over a year. Production was largely over 2 months, then I sat on the footage for 6 months until my Executive Producer came on board and motivated me to begin editing.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Relentless spirit

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

It was the lockdown during the start of the pandemic. All non-essential travel was discouraged. So I asked my subjects to document their journeys with cell phones, and I joined them for a few key runs during which I also filmed. I sent them gimbals, lav mics, weekly shot lists, and conducted interviews virtually. I embraced the fact that this wasn’t going to be the film I had imagined as my first. But it turned into something more, and working on it was a path out of the pandemic funk that hovered over me.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was uncomfortable. I hate getting feedback, but it’s a good thing. They were generous and said nice things so it wasn’t too painful. Are they encouraged to say possible things? Probably. But I’ll take it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

One of the highlights of my career as a video journalist was working as a shooter/producer/editor on a couple of docu-series. I enjoyed mapping out narrative arcs and the puzzle-piecing that went with assembling an episode. It was like shaping a piece of pottery from a slab of clay, and that was thrilling to me.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Cool Runnings or Moana. Epic sports journey and warrior princess who needs to believe in herself to save her village? I could watch those two non-stop.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

Love FilmFreeway. It saves filmmakers tons of time so we can focus on other things.

9. What is your favorite meal?

Does pie with Greek yogurt count as a meal?

10. What is next for you? A new film?

A break while I adjust to my new day job and new city. Rest is essential, and I feel strongly that we (I) don’t do enough of it. Once I’ve legit chilled, then I’ll reach out to the person who I know I want to feature for my next short doc.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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