It's now been almost eight months since my visit to the set of Fast Girls last year, and the film is finally ready and will be out on general release from tomorrow. To celebrate the occasion, I was reunited with the actors and crew, some of whom I'd met back when the film was being made and others who I'd run into since then, and asked them how they felt about the film now, on the eve of its release. First up was director Regan Hall, to talk about the challenges of making a sports movie as his first feature.
It's a bit like putting a jigsaw together. I spent quite a few hours down at the racetrack with no one else around me. I was just sitting in the stands, thinking about where the runners were going to be on the track, where the cameras were going to be, how we would cover it, what speed to have the cameras set at. Each race was filmed over … sometimes four days, spaced a week apart, so it was just a case of having my checklist and knowing that I'd got that little element of the baton passed, that I'd got that little bit where she goes through the line. Just bit by bit as you go into the edit suite and then you've got a race!
The release of Fast Girls comes just over a month before the start of the Olympics, so I asked lead actress Lenora Crichlow – who trained with Olympic athletes in preparation for the film – where she thinks their drive to succeed comes from.
[Athletes have] a hunger to better themselves that is like no other. You think you're at the physical peak of fitness … and they're always going for that extra tenth of a second … that extra millimetre, whatever their personal best is, there's more, and they think they've got more. That's got to be something in your belly. It doesn't matter how many people tell you to slow down or take it easy or that that was great, there seems to be a theme of just constantly wanting to better yourself as an athlete.
Noel Clarke stars in the film, co-wrote the script, and was originally planning to direct before commitment to his other projects Storage 24 and The Knot lead to him handing the reins over to Hall. With an almost entirely female main cast, I asked Clarke whether he had any difficulty writing so many female voices.
"I tried to just not write women. I just write characters, you know. Just these characters, and then girls are playing them."
Finally, I asked Hall, Crichlow, Clarke, and actresses Lily James, Dominique Tipper, Lashana Lynch and Lorraine Burroughs the ultimate question: aside from Fast Girls, what was their favourite sports movie of all time?
Lenora: Cool Runnings! Cool Runnings is one of my all-time favourites.
Regan: Going into Fast Girls I watched a lot of sports movies, things like Chariots of Fire and Bend it Like Beckham. But actually I got a lot of inspiration from other films like Ali and Seabiscuit, that aren't necessarily about running, but are about how to film and cut sports in an engaging and exciting way.
Noel: I have loads. I like Any Given Sunday a lot, but I like Rocky as well, obviously. I like Rocky IV too, which isn't as good as One, but it has that whole [sings] 'living in America!' I love Warrior, that just came out, as well.
Lily James: Does Save The Last Dance count? [Laughs] Actually, the first time I watched The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner…
Noel: Is that the lesbian one?
Lily: No, it's not! [Laughs] There was a lesbian one, that I was thinking about earlier as well.
Lorraine Burroughs: Before Warrior it was Million Dollar Baby. But Warrior is my favourite film.
Dominique Tipper: [Guiltily] I always liked Mighty Ducks.
Lashana Lynch: Awww!
Dominique: That was always a good sports movie, for me. But now I'm older, Warrior as well. That blew me away, that film.
Fast Girls in out on general release from Friday 15th June, here's the trailer if you haven't seen it already.