How did this documentary film come to be made?
Inspiration for films can come from so many places… this one was sparked at a mixer put on by the Boulder International Film Festival in February 2012. I had just finished working about 40 hours over the four-day film festival in Boulder, Colorado, volunteering as a journalist covering the event. I went to the BIFF mixer the following week and met an older gentleman there. It was Len Barron. With a twinkle in his eye, he asked if I might be interested in filming a project he was cooking up. I said sure and gave him my business card.
A few weeks later, I got a phone call from Len and he explained the project. He was planning a stage production about two famous physicists, Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, to be performed by eight grandmothers. Intriguing. He asked if I would film the rehearsal process and the two performance evenings coming up in October. It sounded like a fun and interesting project, so I said yes. (as Len likes to say, “the answer is always YES.” That leads to a lot of open doors and opportunities…)
That fall, I spent five weeks filming these wonderful women as they prepared for their stage appearances. It was a magical experience, getting to know the women and hear Len’s material being interpreted and shared among them. The weekend of the show came and everyone did a magnificent job with their parts! They played to two sold out houses at Boulder’s Dairy Center for the Arts. It was inspiring and beautiful, and I realized there was an opportunity to go even deeper with the project. So I made plans to interview each grandmother to talk about the play, the scientists, and what the experience meant to each of them.
Those interviews added a wonderful depth to the what I had already filmed, and by Spring of 2013 I was logging and transcribing my many hours of footage. The story grew and changed in my editor’s mind, and the real work began of developing it into a comprehensive film. I had originally thought it would take only a few months. So naive of someone who should seriously know better!
My full time job of video producer with business clients came to a screeching halt as I made way for the now full time job of putting this film together. I struggled through writer’s block, self doubt, and all the issues that artists face when creating something very dear to them. But people continued to be supportive and encouraging, and now, almost two years later, the film is just about complete (just adding the finishing touches to graphics and artwork) and ready to be shared!
To say that this film has been a labor of love sounds so cliché. But truly, that can be the only explanation for the time and costs that have been poured into this project. I actually googled “labor of love” and found this explanation:
“Work done for interest in the work itself rather than for payment.”
Bingo! Independent filmmaking defined!
This film has become a sponge that holds the love, tears, and expressions of a great number of people, not the least of whom is Len Barron. His words – spoken by the eight amazing women, filmed and edited by my hands, illustrated by a wonderful artist, and set to music by talented musicians – are the vessel for inspirational thought and intention. And Len’s words stem from the inspiration of two others – Einstein and Bohr – who lived and worked in a different time and place, making their own contributions through their ‘labors of love’ in the field of physics.
Such is a way of living life (for me, at least) and a way of combining individual contributions to create something even more grand. A Beautiful Equation is a film, but also so much more.
It’s a reminder that to the questions of Can I?, Should I? and Is it possible? – the answer is always YES.