How Brittany Ran Her ‘Marathon’ With 50,000 Extras

On the primary Sunday in November two years in the past, 50,643 individuals completed the New York City Marathon — and one actress (and her double) pretended to.

The actress, Jillian Bell, performs the title function in “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” a couple of hard-partying however sad 20-something who takes up working with the hope that it will likely be the thread that pulls her life taut.

In the movie, which opened final week, Brittany’s aim is to complete the New York marathon. To make it really feel genuine, the filmmakers had Bell run elements of the 2017 race — pulling off a logistical feat that Paul Downs Colaizzo, the author and director, stated felt like “its own marathon.”

Television reveals and flicks have typically filmed characters at sporting occasions. (A “Curb Your Enthusiasm” scene the place Larry David goes to a Dodger sport really exonerated a fan of a homicide cost; the digicam caught him within the stands shortly earlier than the killing occurred.)

But “Brittany Runs a Marathon” needed to get it proper throughout an occasion that occurs solely every year and entails tens of 1000’s of people that spent a whole lot or extra on journey and entry charges and wouldn’t desire a movie crew impeding their stride.

The movie’s producers went three months earlier than the race to the New York Road Runners, which places on the occasion. The Road Runners hadn’t been approached by a function movie earlier than, stated Chris Weiller, the senior vice chairman of media, public relations athletics. But the Road Runners has labored with documentaries and actuality tv reveals (“The Real Housewives of New York” additionally shot on the marathon in 2017) and has a particular initiatives division for such requests.

For these they grant, the Road Runners assigns one or two manufacturing assistants to be with filmmakers on race day, getting them out and in of safety and ensuring that their filming doesn’t intervene with different runners.

They additionally clarify what’s and isn’t allowed. The manufacturing initially needed three crews of 22 individuals every. It obtained the three crews however solely eight individuals every. Margot Hand, a producer, stated the movie needed to shoot on the Queensboro Bridge, however the Department of Homeland Security, which controls entry to bridges, wouldn’t enable the movie cameras through the occasion.

Though Bell didn’t run the total 26.2-mile course from the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge to Central Park, nobody may say for positive how far she did go, as a result of she ran a number of segments of the race repeatedly so the crew may do a number of takes of every scene.

The A crew filmed with Bell, and hit key marks within the race, together with the beginning, First Avenue in Manhattan, a scream tunnel of spectators and the end line.

The crew would movie a couple of takes, get within the van and transfer to the following location, escorted by two manufacturing assistants to get them via safety and the maze of avenue closures.

Because the crews have been so small, everybody doubled up in duties — together with Hand and Bell herself, who carried stands for lighting and tripod legs.

They didn’t have sufficient room to deliver anybody from the costume division, so Hand was accountable for a backpack filled with Baggies, each with garments pre-sweated to match every phase of the marathon run. Bell needed to make fast costume modifications.

“She was changing in coffee shops,” stated Hand. “Sometimes you forget when you’re on big movie sets, with everything so structured, and everyone has a place,” she stated. “You really felt it that day, touching everything and doing anything and creating everything.”

The B crew picked up pictures (principally from behind) of Bell’s double working completely different elements of the race. Then a 3rd crew filmed different elements of the marathon — crowd pictures, different runners — to get the sensation of that day.

They have been additionally ready to make use of footage from the race’s broadcast, together with a shot of Shalane Flanagan, the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon in 40 years, on her way to the finish line. (Flanagan’s finish is also remembered for her R-rated victory shout, but that is not seen in the film.)

Hand said she was not sure what they would have done if they hadn’t been able to film during the actual marathon. The movie didn’t have the budget for visual effects that could digitally and convincingly put Bell into the race.

When a terrorist attack in Manhattan killed eight people days before the race, she said, they just held their breath and waited to see if the race would still go on, and then if they’d be able to shoot during it. They also shot on a set in Brooklyn three weeks after the race (they had saved real-life “props,” like Gatorade cups and pink and orange Dunkin’ Donuts winter hats) for additional close-ups. They were fortunate the weather was the same then as on race day.

One other complication came from the camaraderie that permeates the entire race.

Other runners, unaware that Bell was acting, tried to help her when she pretended to struggle, which required some finessing by the crew to make sure they still got their shots.

Colaizzo, the writer and director, was not surprised that other runners jumped in. He got the inspiration for the film after watching a friend run the race in 2014.

“It’s a world of support wherever you turn,” he said. “If you don’t feel motivated by the goodness of humanity on that day, then, you should just go to bed.”

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