Two Incredible Sources of Inspiration

The hammer is about to drop on us here — one week to go in our little enterprise which in the larger scheme of things is just a little indie film, one of a thousand or more that get made each year, nothing that extraordinary. But when you’re on the inside of one of these it doesn’t seem so unextraordinary — it seems like you’re looking for miracles to get the money to come together, the cast, the crew, and in our case dolphins, water, weather (hurricane Bertha is brewing) — it can seem a bit overwhelming as evidenced by the fact that neither Susan Johnson nor I seem to be able to sleep past about 4 am.

But in recent days there have been two things which have really helped me to reflect and put this in perspective — to things that have inspired me and I think a lot of other people. They don’t have anything to do with film-making but everything to do with character.

The first is Ingrid Betancourt. I was aware of her basically as a ” Colombian presidential candidate who was kidnapped by FARC in 2002″…..that was about it. And then the recent rescue operation brought her back into the spotlight and I have been just mesmerized by her character and her ability to articulate not only the details of her experience — but her ability to process it and speak about it in such a way that illuminates what seems like every nuance of it. In describing the moment when she and the captives realized they were free she was able to capture both the sudden joy but also the almost immediate understanding of what a moment of national pride it was for Colombia to have carried out, flawlessly, what is probably the most daring and extraordinary undercover operation anywhere in recent memory. Then when she got to Bogota – her reunion with her husband and teenage kids — and again, her ability to speak about it in a way that just makes you feel like being a human being may be a good thing after all. I then watched the docu on her life that CNN is showing … and my respect and admiration for her just grew and grew. And somehow, at the end of that, I get up this morning feeling just a bit more resolve and bit less overwhelmed. Here is an ITN report which captures just a bit of what she’s about — there’s a a ton of stuff out there if you google her name:

Ingrid Betancourt – ITN Report

The other thing that just inspires awe and a sense that anything is possible with enough will and determination was the Nadal-Federer Wimbledon final yesterday that even while it was still going on, John McEnroe was quite rightly describing it as the greatest tennis match ever. I was on my laptop in my hotel room with one eye on the match and the other on shotlists for the movie — but as the match went on and on I was just in awe of the stunning brilliance of the play of both Federer and Nadal. Guys — I’m a golfer, not a tennis fan, but this was even better than Tiger Woods gutting it out on a bad leg in the US Open a few weeks ago. I have never seen so many incredible shots — every point seemed a mini-masterpiece and each of them stared down “choke” moments with absolute grit and no “blink” of any kind. The press this morning is calling it a masterpiece and I’m really glad I saw it. It was two of the most indominatable spirits ever seen going at each other and ending in the twilight at Wimbledon in such a way that who won and who lost became a secondary storyline if you were watching it — it was more a matter of just awe at the display of guts and determination — and skill and heart.

So … time to stop whining about how hard it is to make this damned movie and get on with it. Greatness is achievable. We have to just do it.

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