Five Questions With... Paul Downs Colaizzo (BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON)

In Spotlight Film BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON, a young woman who hides her insecurities with humor becomes determined to turn her life around one block at a time training for the New York City Marathon. Featuring Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, and Utkarsh Ambudkar. Winner: Audience Award, Sundance.

We spoke with writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo about this funny and heartwarming film. Read more with Paul below, and see it at NFF on Thurs, June 20 at 3:15pm and/or Sat, June 22 at 4:45pm!

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NFF: Can you talk a little about your inspiration for the film, and your relationship to the "real" Brittany?

PAUL: The screenplay was born out of the late night talks I had with my friend Brittany when we were both in our mid-20s. In trying to define success and fulfillment for ourselves, we started to wonder if we were capable of more than we’d always believed.  As an experiment in pushing herself, she went for a run. Before she’d returned home from the run, I’d come up with a rough outline of the film. Brittany and I have a rare friendship, with the kind of insight and support that somehow, almost cyclically, finds a way of inspiring each of us.

NFF: Are you a runner? Which do you think is harder: running a marathon, or finishing a script (and getting it made)?

PAUL: I am not a runner, I’ve never been a runner, I actually had to get double ankle surgery while we were in post because I was physically not created to stand for long periods of time, let alone rely on my feet to get me from one point to another quickly.

So, answering for myself, I’d say running a marathon would be harder than getting this movie made because 26.2 miles of relying on my joints would be impossible while getting this film made was only near impossible.

NFF: What was the casting process like, and/or when did you know that Jillian would be your Brittany?

PAUL: Finding our Brittany started about 9 months before we started filming. Jillian had read the script, I’d been a huge fan of her work, but I knew that exploring a part specifically like this one would be a new exploration for her. We met and had a few conversations about what we both wanted out of this movie, how we wanted the world to see this character and her journey, and it became clear we both had the same goals, and that this was going to be a very vulnerable and personal experience for her. And it felt like it had the chance of being an electric performance. Jillian brought her heart, soul, and then some to the role and I’ll be thankful for her hard work forever.

NFF: What are you working on currently, and/or where can we see more of your work?

PAUL: I’m currently finishing up a script I’ve been toying with for a couple of years now. Stay tuned.

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

PAUL: What I’ve learned traveling the film festival circuit with this movie is that every demographic finds an emotional way into the movie. I’m interested to see how Nantucket audiences respond to the film in a moment-to-moment way, and even more excited for them to experience the totality of the journey in the way all of our audiences have responded so far. I want Brittany to stick with them long after they leave the theater.