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SxSW 2016 Interview: HIT IT HARD directors Gabe Spitzer & David Terry Fine

HIT IT HARD - At SxSW 2016
by Jason Whyte

"HIT IT HARD is about John Daly, the rockstar of golf. If you know him, you already want to see it. If you don't, why don't you know who John Daly is?" Directors Gabe Spitzer & David Terry Fine on HIT IT HARD which screens at the 2016 edition of South By Southwest Film.

I hear you guys are back at SxSW this year! Tell me about what you have had here in the past, and your favorite aspects of the city.

Gabe Spitzer: I directed and David edited a short documentary that appeared at SxSW last year called EVERY DAY, about an 86-year-old marathon runner. Showing the short at SXSW was an incredible experience, as the energy of the festival was unmatched, and having everything so centered in downtown Austin made for a great time!

Talk to me a bit about how you got your start in the industry and your previous work!

David Terry Fine: I was a long time editor before turning to directing. Gabe worked at ESPN and HBO before turning to freelance directing. We collaborated on a short last year for ESPN, and this year we did the feature on John Daly.

So how did this movie come together for both of you?

Gabe: We knew we wanted to tell this story and so we went out and spoke to John and told him what we wanted to make. It took some convincing and trust for John to be willing to open up for the story, but he was very supportive and gave us the green light.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? How much coffee are we talking about here?

Gabe: We try to keep the coffees to a minimum as otherwise things get jittery by the end of the day. What keeps us going is getting closer to understanding the story, to understanding how to tell it. We have ideas of what the film will or could be like on the way in, but the process of uncovering the real story, the honest and reflective story, that's the best part.

What was your biggest challenge with making this documentary on John?

David: The biggest challenge was mixing a lot of archival story with some present-day scenes we shot with Daly, and making them work together. It took many cuts and a lot of second-guessing, but we finally felt we got it right.

I’m about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie and how you filmed it.

Gabe: We used a Sony FS7 and a mix of Zeiss prime lenses and the Fuji Cabrio when we needed the flexibility of a zoom. We wanted the moments with John to feel candid so we kept it simple with shoulder rigs and an easy rig. For the interviews we wanted them to feel personal and intimate and connected, hence the Interotron direct to camera look.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?

David: The mix of people who will get to see our movie, and hopefully enjoy it as much as we did making it.

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next?

David: We are hoping for some other fests before it airs on ESPN later this year.

If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

David: Probably St. Andrews in Scotland, the birthplace of golf, where John Daly won his biggest tournament 20 years ago.

What would you say to someone who was talking or texting through a movie?

Gabe: We spent a year of our life trying to make every second of this thing as good as we could, so stick with us for 50 minutes!

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business as a piece of advice?

David: Read read read. And don't be afraid to reach out to a subject you're interested in. Better to get a no thanks than to never try.

And finally, what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?


Be sure to follow HIT IT HARD on the ESPN Twitter at @30for30!

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview as part of our coverage of SxSW 2016. To see the entire series click on the Live Report sidebar on your right. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2016 SXSW in Austin, Texas taking place March 11-19. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

link directly to this feature at
originally posted: 03/10/16 09:00:58
last updated: 03/10/16 09:03:10
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