"A Second Chance, The Story of Janelle Morrison" documents the road to recovery of the professional triathlete, following a life threatening car accident that not only threatened her profession as an athlete, but also her time on this planet. The movie will be shown at the Lido Theatre tonight, December 28, with Morrison in attendance to take part in a question and answer period following the screening.
Morrison spoke with Energeticcity.ca about the entire movie-making procedure, spearheaded by Rob Kelly of Kelly Brothers Production. Kelly met with Morrison three weeks following her near fatal accident, expressing his interest in filming her recovery. He was originally intending to make a video about a group of athletes training for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, but, upon hearing of her story, he decided to shift his focus to all aspects of Morrison’s recovery, culminating with her racing in and finishing third at Ironman Canada.
"He filmed my first swim back, my first doctors’ reports. He’s got interviews with surgeons," she says. "It’s really hard to describe the last two years, but basically it’s all on film and I’m really pleased with how realistically it’s all been depicted."
Kelly got word of Morrison’s story through a mutual friend named Rose Serpico, who owns a Calgary Triathlon store. As a triathlete himself, Kelly knew Serpico, the owner of Tri It Multisport, who is a good friend of Morrison. The two got to talking, and Morrison was introduced to Kelly by Serpico, who eventually became an executive producer of the film. Morrison says Kelly’s positivity throughout the filming process was a motivating factor in her recovery.
"I didn’t realize at the time, but throughout the process of having the film done, it made me come to terms with a few things. It was motivating because when you are coming back from something like that, there are a lot of doubters, and having someone take the plunge and have the faith to document what I was doing, that was really motivating. If Rob can take the plunge of faith to film my recovery, I can definitely keep going here."
Morrison says working with the director was an interactive, collaborative effort, and upon seeing the completed film, she says Kelly did a remarkable job, which is an even more impressive accomplishment considering the film was his first major production.
"When I saw the film I could tell that he really listened to me and how I was telling the story, and what the story really was." she says, adding, "He did a job that I can’t even describe how on it was. It was exactly what happened. Even the way I was feeling, he was somehow able to project that onto the screen. He truly is an artist."
Morrison says filming with Kelly, which began at Christmas of 2010, and shot until August 27 2012, felt extremely natural, something she feels made the movie much more sincere. A total of approximately 640 days was spent in front of the camera for Morrison. She says a lot of those emotional, candid shots came in large part to the natural atmosphere Kelly provided during their shoots, adding that half of the time Morrison didn’t know Kelly was filming.
Much of the film is narrated by Morrison through a video diary, Kelly’s idea, which she kept of herself from home and training camp throughout her recovery. Those video diary clips are a big part of the film, providing the viewer a much more personal look into her tough and emotional recovery. She attributed watching those videos to gaining a better grasp of where she was within her recovery, much like reading a recovery journal, calling the experience "therapeutic". The athlete joked that upon watching the video journal clips, she wished she would have "combed her hair a bit before recording."
Morrison says the accident helped put her life into perspective, and even during the early stages of a long and tedious recovery, she knew she would race again. She said with that mind frame, she knew the process had be documented.
"I knew absolutely, get it on film. Get it all on film because I am going to come back and I feel that this is right."
Morrison says she’s watched the movie a few times already, saying re-watching those emotional, difficult years was a bit shocking, and even induced a few tears from the athlete. The once again competing triathlete says she is looking forward to the Q&A portion of the movie screening, which she says helps her process the entire experience even further. The movie begins at 7:30 p.m.
She adds the video is also being entered in various film festivals, including the New York Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival, the Austin Film Festival, as well as some international festivals.