Update June 2019
We are very proud to announce that we have officially finished “The Secret Marathon” documentary. Our dream is to have the world premiere at a major film festival in the fall of 2019, followed by distribution that will allow us share this incredible story with the world in 2020. For up to date information, follow along on social media as we work towards making that dream a reality.
The story of the film
It all started in 2015, when Martin saw an article about Zainab, the first Afghan woman to run a marathon in Afghanistan. At the time he was recovering from a massive blood clot on his brain, and vowed that if he could get better, he was going to run with Zainab in Afghanistan the following year.
Kate met Martin at an event, and the wheels started turning that maybe this could be a documentary. Maybe Kate should go too. Maybe Kate should run her first marathon… and maybe that marathon should be the Marathon of Afghanistan.
Since this was Kate’s first film, she reached out to Scott, an experienced filmmaker, to round out the team. That was it. The three of us decided to make a documentary. We would produce it together, and Kate & Scott would co-direct.
Documentaries aren’t easy in the best of times, but when you can’t actually tell anyone you’re making the documentary because it would put the marathon at risk… it makes it a lot harder. You can’t fundraise. You can’t promote what you’re doing. You just have to hope for the best and put in a lot of hours.
Through one generous donation from Viiz, we were able to cover our costs in sending Kate, Martin, and a small crew of 2, Colin (DOP/Camera op) and Liam (Camera & Sound), to Afghanistan for the marathon. What happened while they were there was incredible… and you’ll have to watch the film to find out.
When they got back, it was time to create a story out of the roughly 100 hours of footage captured, so Scott started editing. Not an easy task under any circumstances, and because we were working in our “free time”, that first rough cut took about a year to make. We knew it was important to send the edit to the women in Afghanistan to make sure they were comfortable with how they were being portrayed, so that was the next step.
It was at this time that we learned that some of the women who ran in the marathon were receiving threats to themselves and their families simply for running in the race. This was a full year after they had run, and the threats continued. Some of these were the main characters of our film, and understandably they asked to be removed from our story for their safety and the safety of their families.
This is the real story. This is why the film is important. Our first priority is always going to be the safety of everyone involved, but to lose these stories meant losing the whole reason we were making the film. So, we had a decision to make. Do we make a short film that lacks substance? Do we scrap the project all together? Or do we find a way to tell this story that won’t put anyone at risk?
It might sound like an easy decision to make, but keep in mind we had all been working unpaid on this project for 2 years. You either cut your losses, and turn it into a 10 minute short film that lacks substance, or literally double down on the work needed. After much discussion, we decided we would put in the work.
Scott got to work on completely re-editing the entire film. Some stories needed to be shifted. Some stories needed to be removed. Basically, the film needed to be rebuilt from scratch. Kate partnered with our Afghan colleagues and advisors to write the script for an animation that would appear throughout the film, telling the story of what your average Afghan woman experiences when hoping to run. Martin put his efforts into raising funds through a crowd funding campaign and wrote a book about his experience in Afghanistan. Together we worked. We worked for another full year. We hired an artist to create the images for our animated story. We hired a composer to write beautiful, original music for the film. We hired an audio guru to make this film sound as good as it could possibly sound. We hired a colourist to make it look as beautiful as possible. We had a dedicated team now and together we finished the doc.
So here we are. Three years later, and we have a film. It’s not just a film anymore though. Martin wrote a book about the experience. We created The Secret Marathon 3K which has become an annual event promoting equality around the world. We’ve built a community of people who believe in this story. Martin’s idea to run in support of the women in Afghanistan, has turned into a movement for equality… and we haven’t even released the film yet. It’s incredible.
We want to thank everyone who has been and is involved. Our community has grown beyond our wildest expectations, and we are so excited to share this film with you all. Thank you for believing in us and thank you for believing in this story.
WHAT'S THE LONG TERM GOAL FOR THE FILM?
Once we have screened in film festivals, and hopefully found distribution, it is our goal that The Secret Marathon can be an educational resource. We would like to develop a film study for students that allows them to explore issues of equality and gender as well as thinking about the kinds of health and fitness goals they would like to set for themselves. It is our hope that the film will inspire the next generation to be leaders who are passionate about making the world a place where everyone is free to run.