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Paul Downs Colaizzo, writer/director of Brittany Runs a Marathan

Amazon Studios releases Brittany Runs a Marathon at Angelika Film Center and AMC/Loews Lincoln Square on August 23rd, 2019.

NYC MOVIE GURU: When it comes to entertaining the audience and provoking them emotionally as well as intellectually, which of those three elements was most challenging to tweak in the editing room?

Paul Downs Colaizzo: It's hard to look at it that way because I'm not looking at each of those as layers. It's sort of all baked into the concept of the script and the story that we're telling. So, at that point, I'm really just interested in telling the story beat-by-beat as perfectly as possible so that the audience can experience it the way I want them to.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Just like life!

PDC: Yes, exactly!

NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you manage to create such human characters in the film? Even the supporting characters feel like fully-fleshed human beings.

PDC: The idea was to take these characters and these actors who are typically sidekicks or supporting roles and deepen them---both the characters and what we're familiar with about these actors. The way I sought to do this is that all the comedy comes from human behavior. It's not broad or slapstick humor in any way; it comes from what the characters want and how they're hoping to get it, and we can relate to that. So, we can laugh and still have empathy. We're not laughing at anybody.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Are there any emotions that Brittany does not exhibit on the surface or below the surface throughout the film?

PDC: I don't think so. The idea was to take the whole emotional journey of that character and feel all sides of her. The movie is asking you to dare to love Brittany because she does keep a distance and does keep a safeguard and deflects vulnerability, but who doesn't? So, why can't that be a hero's quality that we deconstruct as the movie goes on.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How much room for interpretation did you intend to leave when it comes to the way that Brittany responded to Gretchen trying to hoover her back into a friendship?

PDC: That's the thing. Part of what I wanted to do with the film is to not put judgement on a lot of moments and just let them happen. It's still part of Brittany's emotional journey that we understand, but no necessarily have the movie have a value on that. Should she have rejected Gretchen at that moment? I don't know. Was she a little harsh? Maybe. Was she doing what she needed to do to get through? Maybe. Could she have done it in a kinder way? Maybe. I don't know. But, we understand why.

NYC MOVIE GURU: There's a wonderfully edited scene in Brittany Runs a Marathon where Brittany verbally abuses a plus-sized woman. How did you find the restraint to not let that scene go over-the-top?

PDC: That scene is about Brittany projecting on to this woman and treating her as herself. That woman is happy, and the reason that Brittany attacks that woman is because she's happy. That woman is living a life in a way that she can't image how she looks the way she looks and lives the way she lives with her husband and is "foolish" enough to be happy. I think that we all struggle with understanding people who are confident and happy when they're doing things that we find to be something that we can never do and feel good about ourselves. So, in the film, Brittany had to hit rock bottom because she's both the antagonist and protagonist of the film. I had to find a way to dramatize that moment and this scene felt like the most dramatic way to do that.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Would it be accurate to say that the only romance that Brittany really has is with herself throughout the film?

PDC: Yes, that's correct. It's 100% right. Brittany is a woman who's getting in the way of loving herself. And it's a society that doesn't help her.

NYC MOVIE GURU: If you were to coordinate a dinner party with Brittany and a few others, whom would you invite that you think she'd vibe with?

PDC: There's so many different versions of that dinner that are going through in my head. The start of the film is Brittany in bed and the alarm clock goes off and she just doesn't want to get out of bed. That's the opposite of Tracy Turnblad. In the musical Hairspray, the alarm clock goes off and she is ready to dance the morning away. So, I wonder if there's an evolution of that character at all.

NYC MOVIE GURU: The characters in Brittany Runs a Marathon are adults, but they're still growing up. What is a "grown up"?

PDC: 100% still. That's what happening to Catherine in the movie, too. She's going through her own coming-of-age. We're all coming-of-age all the time.

NYC MOVIE GURU: So maybe the term "grown up" doesn't really exist!

PDC: Yes, exactly! It just means "closer to death"!

NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think is the purpose of struggle in life?

PDC: Comfort is the opposite of achievement. The purpose of struggle is growth. It's the journey. Life is a journey which is why at the end of the film Brittany keeps running.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Brittany has an interesting personality and also character in the film. What helps to build character?

PDC: Exposure to other people's experiences and understanding adversities so that you can bring your felt experience to their felt experience and to understand what struggle is, ultimately, for all of us.

NYC MOVIE GURU: What film do you think would pair well with Brittany Runs a Marathon in a double feature?

PDC: Annie.

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