Posted by: michellemuldoon | June 12, 2011

That Darn Sports Analogy Again

A variety of sports equipment represents the variety of planning and approaches in creating film. A Sports analogy for the creative arts.

Making a film is like planning a sport season; producer/director equals coach, and cast and crew equals team. There’s no way around it. The similarities are so great, it’s impossible to avoid yet another blog on the relationship between creating and athletics.

I spent twelve years coaching young athletes. I retired after a fair amount of success, and honestly thought those days were far behind me. Yet, I find myself looking at filming as if I was planning my team’s season.

Pre-production is like try-outs, and planning out your season. I need to bring in the right combination of people who can work together harmoniously, can communicate with each other in the most pressure-packed situations, and are reliable and committed to a common goal. Then, I need to create a clear route to succeeding in our common goal.

Production is like the bulk of the season. How does a coach navigate the bumps in the road? How do I keep us on track, and on schedule?  How do I find ways around the minor crises that can mis-direct all that focus, and effort? At times, it’s a juggling act, and the success of production (of our season), is hinged on the ability to communicate, motivate, and inspire the best in us all.

Part of my coaching approach has always been about what the athlete does when they don’t have the ball. When working with actors, and communicating what kind of performance I’m looking for, I find myself thinking of that very phrase, except it sounds more like: “What should the actor, and character be doing in those moments when they don’t have dialogue?”  I think that they are very valid analogies, because when you have dialogue, or the ball, it’s easy to influence the environment, but how you respond in those indirect moments, gives you a performance no one forgets. It’s those moments where the game is won, or lost.

Post-Production is where I’m at, now. And yes, I find myself relying on my coaching background, again. The pressure to close out strong is there, but as each component takes time to complete (especially when visual effects are involved), how do you keep the team on track, and excited to get back at it, once the material comes back their way. Everyone has a zone that brings their expertise into focus. My job is to make sure I can help maintain an easy flow through it.

I don’t think this will be the last time I blog about sport, and film. I have a sneaky feeling, that film festival submissions are going to feel like play-offs, but we’ll leave that for another day. In the meantime, let’s  keep playing together. It’s been fun, hasn’t it?



  1. Oh yes Michelle, you are such a great writer and communicator, that is the most important element in film making. Organizing all of the details is similar to a juggling act and re organizing and keeing the entire project going with enthusiasm. It is truly a miracle when a short film, feature film, television show, play or any other endeavour actually is completed and is good. So many pieces of the puzzle have to fit and when it fits…………..beautiful!

    • Velvet,
      As always your are so wonderfully supportive. I’m so happy to hear that there was something in this blog that made sense to another filmmaker. Sometimes I wonder if my little ramblings connects. Thank you!

  2. Very astute and nice way to associate and compare the two. Love it. D

    • You inspired me to blog today. I love reading how you look at things, too.

  3. I love hearing it in sports terms…I look at it in scientific terms, and will write about it that way (over and over). I will welcome your take. Now that “Driving BY Braille” is in the most complete stage I will put it in until it gets a distributor, I kind of feel like I’ve turned out another dissertation. Now, on to the next round of play offs…wait, sorry, wrong analogy!

    • I love reading your scientific analogies, too. Seems, filmmaking crosses many boundaries, doesn’t it?


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