Featured Filmmaker: Josh Greenbaum, Director of ‘The Short Game”

Josh Greenbaum

Josh Greenbaum

Emmy Award winning filmmaker Josh Greenbaum is here on Maui to screen his latest documentary film The Short Game, which follows the the best 7-year old golfers in the world as they train for and compete in the World Championships of Junior Golf.

Josh participated in a Filmmakers Panel yesterday in which he and his producing team discussed the challenges and triumphs they experienced while creating their film.

Tonight at Celestial Cinema at 8pm they will take the stage to introduce The Short Game, which screens along with several other films and is preceded by a tribute to Rising Star Award winner Brie Larson.

We had a conversation with Josh – picking his brain about his filmmaking process and what he hopes the Maui audience will feel about his film. Take a moment to learn a little more about him.

Q: How did you get involved in making The Short Game? Where and when did you start?

A: The project began with our Executive Producer, David Frankel, who is a director himself (Marley and Me, Devil Wears Prada) and has two kids who compete in this world of junior golf. He brought the idea of doing a documentary in this world to our producer extraordinaire Rafael Marmor, who then approached me to consider directing it and from there, we were off and running. We began filming in Pinehurst, NC at the World Championships in 2011, one year before the actual tournament our film leads up to.

Q. What inspired you to create it?

A: Well, a confession right off the bat, I am not a golfer. I “play” occasionally (see: hack around on the course), but I was drawn into the world because of the potential for comedy and wisdom that 7 year olds can provide. I’ve always loved kids, and my professional background is primarily in comedy directing, so my initial inspiration came from the anticipated hilarity of following seven year olds around for a year. I am a big fan of 7 UP! and the whole Up Series documentaries, and felt that while Golf could provide a great backdrop, and the tournament a good narrative framework, the film would really be about capturing that magical age where the world is so full of possibility, where these kids blurt out hilariously lines one minute and pearls of wisdom the next.

Q: What was the most challenging part of creating this film?

A: very film brings with it its own unique set of challenges. One big challenge was traveling all over the world for production (South Africa, China, France, Phillipines, Scotland, all over the US), all while I was becoming a new dad of identical twin girls, who just turned one a few days ago. Above all, I think the biggest challenge was covering the final tournament. We had eight subjects to follow, all who were on different holes, on different courses sometimes. So we had 18 cameramen, 9 sound recordists, tons of PA’s, all in all a crew of almost 50. And to make sure we capturing everything we needed to, while still creating a cohesive look and style, was indeed a challenge.

Q: What type of experience do you hope the film will bring to viewers?

A: I hope that people will walk out of the theater feeling better about the world we live in than when they walked in. There are so many films, and documentaries in particular, that paint a rather dark picture of the world we live in, and I hope our film, while still being honest, is an uplifting, inspirational, and optimistic look at the world we live in. Seven year old kids have an unbridled enthusiasm for life, and I hope their inspiring and infectious attitudes towards life come through in the film and transcend the film, working their way into the psyche of our audience.

Q: What do you think our Maui audiences will most appreciate about your film?

A: I know Maui has an amazing and vibrant golf community, so I think anyone who loves the game of golf will love this film. But beyond that, I think of Maui as an inherently spiritual place and the film has a spirituality to it that I think will speak to anyone who likes to see the deeper meanings and themes that run beneath all that we do. Surfing isn’t just surfing, its about something bigger. The same applies to golf. Ask anyone who plays, and there is an inherent spirituality to the game. The serenity of the course, the focus required to excel at the game, the prayer you say when your ball is sailing directly towards the water. Lastly, the idea of projecting the film at the legendary Celestial Cinema, on a golf course, makes it all the more uniquely Maui!

Q: Do you have any prior connection to Maui? If so, please explain.

A: While I have only ever known Maui as a tourist, I have a deep deep love of the island. My first trip there came when I was fourteen. I was lucky enough to be invited by a friend and I will never forget those few days, feeling like I was in my own version of a Robert Louis Stevenson adventure novel, exploring the jungle one minute and snorkeling with turtles the next. I then returned for one of my close friends weddings, which to this day is still one of the most magical weddings I’ve ever been to. And then most recently, my wife and I came here during the Humpback whale season, and we went out in a small boat and got to come close to some of the most amazing (and huge!) animals on our planet. In short, I absolutely love Maui and feel so lucky to be able to show my film here.

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