Sunday, January 22, 2017

TRI Movie Review from a Triathlete

Well I usually do some kind of race recap after a race of significance, so I thought it appropriate to do a recap of a movie about triathlon.  It will not be your typically review where a film reviewer would provide likes and dislikes about the movie, but rather how I got a slight insiders viewing of watching a test screening to watching 2 more times for a total of 3 view points, each experience was different.

Tri Movie Mug
 The background of the story takes place somewhere near Washington D.C. where Natalie (played by Jensen Jacobs) finds herself stuck in life, basically not living day to day without doing much other than come home to Rex (Jaylen Moore) her husband and hanging out with her BFF Skyler (Walker Hayes).   One day, Natalie performs an ultrasound examination on Candice (Shawn Pelofsky) and they both know something is wrong, but won't say anything to each other.  The topic about the Nation's Tri ensues and has Natalie jumping in both feet into the deep end with her friend Skyler. TRI is the first dramatization of the sport triathlon. Basically the only time I have seen it was on television when NBC airs Ironman World Championships.  If I work hard enough, I will earn my spot there, but that is for another blog post. So my TRI movie story began in August of 2015.  I remember seeing a Facebook Post from my friend, Jendra Janagin (Director of Photography), regarding shooting a film about triathlon in Washington DC.  Well of course, I asked to be a triathlete extra! However those those roles were quickly filled. However, she did invite me for a scene where Julie Moss gives a speak at the pre-race dinner, but the timing was not right.  My dreams of have a Screen Actor Guild card will remain on my bucket list

After TRI Movie Screening at Rockafeller Center. The day before Thanksgiving 2015, I received a message from Jendra with an invite to be part of a Test Screening of her triathlon movie.  How cool was it to be part of an informal insider event, and the subject was triathlon which made it special, especially with Irene officially signed up for Ironman Maryland 2016. We sat down in the Mango Screening Room and (I apologize who it was) someone introduce himself and explained that the version we were about to watch was a post rough cut and expect the sound and coloring to be off, all of which would be corrected in final production.  He asked to enjoy the movie and remember that their will be a questionnaire after the movie.  The lights dimmed and the movie began. Regardless of the color and sound quality, the movie hit home for me as an aspiring triathlete.  The jokes that were embedded in the film made me connect with it and as the plot thickened, it felt like my story as well.  I remember squeezing into my tri kit and wetsuit and not being able to breath.  The cost of the bike was like "WTF did I just get into."  I cringed when I saw the bike practice as Skylar fell.  Getting up at 4am to go swimming in a pool is no fun.  Having injuries was understood definitely by me.  Even vomiting during a workout by Christy (Kelly Spitko) made me laugh.  Squeezing into a wetsuit continues to provide chuckles during race day!  Being inspired by Julie Moss' collapse before the finish line was included and gave Natalie the spark to do the race.  Negotiating to myself to search my why to continue struck a cord with me, because the couch is so inviting and a pint of ice cream is in the refrigerator.  There was enough triathlon experiences in the movie to make it a triathlon themed movie and not a glossy version of the sport.

Tri Movie Kelly Spitko  Other subplots included Christy's character struggles of being a former elite triathlete who battled cancer to make a comeback into triathlon to how Zeus provides enough common sense for the other characters to better understand life.  Just enough drama and comic relief of the supporting cast to make it a great family movie. The only thing they did not discuss in the movie was the peeing on the bike and maybe waiting on-line at the port-a-potties would have shed the dark side of triathlon. Irene wiped a few tears away and the lights brighten up as the person who introduce the movie in the beginning began to ask questions to audience.  One question that he asked was, "Would this make you want to do a triathlon?"  For me, Irene and a few audience members, it was a yes.  What I found interesting how the triathletes ask questions about triathlon, while non-triathletes asked questions about the film making and story. After the test screening, there was a Q&A with the producer, Ted Adams.  He is an Ironman and Triathlon Coach, so my job of technical adviser was also taken.  But he explained the research of the kinds of he did for the kinds of injuries an athlete can sustain and still race.  It was interesting as he shared his account of the logistics of filming at the actual Nation's Tri.  I found it interesting that all of the actors have not done an actual triathlon and during the auditions they asked the candidates to swim, and many were cut! Ted also explained (spoiler alert) the injury sustained to Nicole happened to be enough injury for the movie, but not enough to have her quit the race.  During the race you see the bruises and listen to the self-talk, but she perseveres! During the Q&A, I mentioned that Natalie sort of disappears for a little too long then all of the sudden she is doing the race.  During this screening, the magic of editing shortened that lag time.  I was amazed with just a few swaps in the original viewing changes the pace enough for me not to notice the difference in the second viewing.

Tri Movie Screening at Directors Guild of America  I was then invited to a final production screening at the Directors Guild Theater, where Irene and I got to watch a movie complete with the right sound, color and music. The title sequence started the movie like it should and again, I was back into the world of triathlon as a newbie learning all of the disciplines of swim, bike and run with the scare thoughts of not completing the race or drowning. This audience consisted more movie watchers and film people than athletes, based on questions about film production and plot.

  Director Guild of America Tri Movie Director Guild of America Tri Movie

  Lastly, as word got out to the public that TRI was available to be screened at local theaters, my friend and Wildwood Warruirs teammate Michelle Rizo-Berg reached out to the producers at the same time that I was going to see how we can view the movie as a team. Fortunately, Michelle runs the Boulton Center in Bay Shore which is an excellent venue to watch this film and our Team gathered to watch followed by a Q&A with Ted and Jenson, along with John Graziano, Gils Rivadeneyra and Irene.
  Tri Movie Q and A at Boulton Center Jensen Jacobs Ted Adams Noah Lam Irene Lam

Again, it's a great movie to watch as a family as well as on your bike trainer.  Click here to watch TRI on Amazon.  Let's Swim, Bike and Run!


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