The triathlon is the fastest growing endurance sport in the world and has quickly become the fastest growing sport in the UK since 2014. In fact, millions of athletes compete in its races each year. In lieu of this trend, a new film aptly titled, TRI, has begun generating buzz on the festival scene. Written by Ted Adams III, the film follows Natalie (Award-winning actress Jensen Jacobs), an ultrasound tech who is inspired by a cancer patient to sign up for a Triathlon. However, in the process of her training, Natalie is introduced to the strange (and aerodynamic) world of triathletes-meeting a colorful cast of characters as she trains for the Nation’s Triathlon. With the support of her new teammates, she digs deep to discover just how far she can push her mind and body.
Recently, I spoke with screenwriter Ted Adams III to discuss his history in the triathlon world and how it shaped his construction of the film’s story. In addition, we also touched on showing the film at the NOVA Film Festival as well as what his desired goal would be in presenting the film to movie-going audiences. Check out the interview below…
BT: First, I’d love to know how things went with your screening at the NOVA Film Festival… From what I understand, it ended up selling out?
TA: Yeah, the theater that our film was placed in could hold roughly 303 people, but it ended up being oversold-we had people sitting in the aisles. In fact, festival director, Fernando Mico, had to get people out of the aisles so that there wasn’t a fire marshall violation.
BT: Awesome! So, speaking on that, seeing that you’ve had the opportunity to show the film at other festivals & events, what stood out for you about the NOVA Film Festival as a possibility?
TA: Well, it comes down to two factors: a) we shot so much of the film in the Northern VA area and b) many of the folks involved with the film were from the area. Therefore it was not only a great way to have another venue to promote the film, but it was also a way of giving thanks to all those folks in the Northern VA area who helped to make this film a reality. All in all, anything that can be done to support independent film in this area I’m all for it.
BT: Gotcha, gotcha. Now, rewinding the clock back a bit, could you talk about the inspiration behind making this film?
TA: Sure! You see, I’ve been doing triathlons since 2011…In fact, my first mini-triathlon took place in Manassas [Virginia], and by the end of it I was hooked-simply under the auspices of getting fit. Despite the fact that it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, I felt such a feeling of accomplishment in getting my race numbers on my arm…So much so, that I refrained from washing that arm for a day and a half [following the race]! (Smiling)
(Continuing) Anyways, I then signed up for a team called “Team In Training,” which introduced me to the triathlon coaching process as well as the type of people who get involved in these race events; more specifically, individuals who are looking to take on new challenges-whether that means just finishing a race, honoring someone who lost their battle with a debilitating disease, or just giving back to their community. These [triathletes] are communities that are incredibly giving: they share info [about triathlons], they share food [during the races], they share equipment, etc. They often do whatever it takes so that all people involved in the races reach the finishing line. Therefore in witnessing all of this firsthand, it made me want to do more races (i.e. Ironman triathlons) and write this film.
BT: I see, I see. So, with that said, I understand that you have a few other festivals/events that you are doing this year up through August…So, will that be the end of the film’s run or are there other plans for it?
TA: For us, the goal is not so much festivals…It’s really a matter of getting the film out to the tri[athlon] community.
TA: Since the film is based on experiences that I have gone through personally as well as people that I have encountered on my tri team, I felt that there was a great opportunity to create something that hadn’t been done before: a scripted narrative on triathlons.
TA: More importantly, I felt that this film would also provide the perfect opportunity to tell the story of someone doing their first race. With that said, the film is also targeted to people looking to make a change in their life. For example, there are over 600,000 registered triathletes in the US…
TA: (Continuing) 3.2 million triathletes worldwide, 20 million finishes of races in the U.S. alone-60% of which are women. So, in speaking to that, this is not just a film which women can get behind, it is also a film which new triathletes can show to their loved ones to say, “this is what I’m going to do [to train for my race].” That way, they (the families of these triathletes) will grasp why their loved ones may be away on a certain day [of a family function] or waking up in the wee hours of the morning to train at the local pool…
BT: Ok, alright. So, aside from TRI, what’s next on your plate?
TA: Well, there is a entire slate on tap…Many of which will be shooting right here in Virginia.
BT: Great! Are you able to comment on these upcoming films or are they too early in their development?
TA: They’re too early in their development. Currently, they’re all in their scripting stage, so it’s just a matter of deciding which one we want to work on first.
BT: Gotcha! Well Ted, thank you so much for your time!
TA: Thank you!
Interview by Brandon Troy
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