The last six weeks have been a crazy mix of wrestling duals & tournaments, early morning practices, late night (bumby) bus trips, editing and grant writing. Along the way, I’ve met a lot of friendly and helpful people, and a lot of support for the project. Here are some observations looking back on the last 3000 miles of roads that I have travelled.
I thought I would find a group of young athletes that starve themselves for months on end to make weight each and every day, watching and counting every calorie along the way. What I found was a group of teenagers that enjoy Taco Bell and good home cooking just as much as the rest of us. But they know when the sacrifice is called for and pass on the comforts of food to make the cut. Some get quiet, some get really moody and grouchy. And then as soon as the weigh-ins are over, a small feeding frenzy takes place in the locker room or under the bleachers in the gym. But even that is a calculated balance of sugars, carbs and proteins. Bagels, granola bars, fruit, sandwiches and Gatorade. And then the whole cycle starts over again.
The backend work on shooting a documentary starts with getting all of the footage into the computer and converted into a file format that can be easily edited. I’ve got that part down to a normal routine, one that I can do most of the work while I am sleeping (as it usually takes about 4-5 hours to convert a day’s worth of shooting). The next part is a little more grueling… logging in the footage. In other words, going through every minute of the material that has been shot and identifying what happens and what was said. This “clerical” work helps in the editing process, as parts of the story are easier to find when there are good notes attached to the footage. The interviews of the 21 past 4-time champions, with the help of a transcriptionist, resulted in nearly 300 pages of material to sift through. The footage of Jake & Brandon in their daily lives, takes a bit more work. But within the hours of footage, the story is starting to take shape and it’s a real treat to find the quotes that only a teenager could say.
A huge thanks to the Humbolt County Historical Association… I showed up in Humbolt to film the Frank Gotch statue at sunrise on a very cold November morning. After making a handful of shots of the beautiful copper statue, I set off to the library to see if there was anything else related to Gotch that would be worth filming. I was very quickly referred to the Humbolt County Historical Museum and their property on the east side of town. Within a short time, I found myself leafing through a substancial collection of newspaper clippings and original, 100 yr. old photo prints of the great wrestler. In what would have required an appointment and white gloves in any big city, I found a warm smile and helping hand in discovering a bit of wrestling history in a small storage space hidden from the normal tour.
Four weeks until the State Tournament. I’m starting to wake-up with a dozen different details that will need to be covered in 6 minutes (or less) of wrestling with both of the wrestlers, their coaches and the families in the stands. And add to that, it should be back-to-back.