Written on June 3, 2013 at 2:15 pm , by Christie Griffin
If you thought the buzz about the London Olympics ended last summer, we have news for you: There’s a brand-new sports documentary that chronicles the journey of 12 first-time Olympians, including Americans Missy Franklin and John Orozco. Aptly titled “FIRST: The Official Film of the London 2012 Olympics” the two-hour film is a real treat for anyone who enjoys the emotional personal stories, montages set to killer soundtracks, and gripping recaps that accompany the Olympics. Last Thursday, select theaters screened the film, but you can watch it on NBC on July 27 or buy the DVD here.
During the Olympic Games in London, Caroline Rowland—the film’s director and the Executive Creative Director of New Moon—was granted special access to exclusive areas by the International Olympic Committee. Here she shares some behind-the-scenes insights into her behind-the-scenes film.
Why do this film now, instead of four or eight years ago? What makes this the right time to film and release FIRST?
CR: Throughout the history of the modern Olympic Games, each Games has been immortalized on film. But the London 2012 Olympic Games made a specific commitment to inspiring a generation—so it’s fitting that FIRST focuses on young people and their transition into adulthood through their experience of being an elite athlete at their first Olympic Games.
What were some of the biggest challenges in creating/filming FIRST?
CR: It’s always challenging to film at major sporting events, but the challenges of creating a feature film—using the technology and approach that would typically be used in a more controlled environment— certainly kept the entire production team on their toes! Between 26 sports, 10,500 athletes, hundreds of thousands of spectators, and unpredictable outcomes…it was all challenging. But at the heart of it were 12 superstars who kept us all immersed in the experience and we were able to confront everything that was thrown at us.
What were your favorite parts in creating/filming FIRST?
CR: Having the opportunity to be at the London 2012 Olympic Games for 17 days, 17 hours a day, at the heart of the action was unforgettable. I fell a little in love with every one of the athletes featured in FIRST. Getting to know them ahead of their events meant that I had a very special interest in their performances.
What do you think this film means for the athletes in it, as well as other Olympians?
CR: Several of the athletes in the film have commented on how the film has given them a prism through which to see their own Olympic experience, after they emerged from the most heady and defining experience of their young lives. FIRST is the sort of story that any athlete—amateur or professional—can relate to. It is about triumph and adversity and the very human experience of being vulnerable in the face of unseen forces.
What’s the one takeaway you hope the audience will get, upon watching the film?
CR: I hope that FIRST is an uplifting, inspirational film that reaffirms all the things that make it incredible to be human—and specifically, an athlete.
FITNESS had a chance to screen the film and we loved it! So make sure to tune in on July 27…and in the meantime, we’re going to try and hunt down some of the songs from the fab soundtrack! For more info, like /OlympicsFilm on Facebook.