What was the most difficult to deal with, watching Speedo risking his life out there on the track, or standing on the sidelines as he fought with his wife?
Without question, watching him fight with his wife. It’s one of the most painful, excruciating, and honest scenes I’ve every filmed. And I’ve shot some hairy stuff. I felt like a small child, watching my own parents fight. I wanted to run and hide. But then, when you feel that, it’s usually the most incredible scene. I never worried about Speedo at the track. Well, once his car caught on fire, but he kept racing.
Did you ever feel that maybe you shouldn’t be filming some of Speedo’s family troubles?
Of course I was conflicted about that. But that scene is the emotional center of the film. The filmmaking process for me was about coming to understand that Speedo’s story was much more than racing – it was about what was happening at home with his family. The film explores where Speedo’s rage comes from – and it comes from this terrible marriage he’s trapped in. In that scene, we learn what he’s been experiencing for all these years, and also subjecting his wife to. As bad as it was, I know that that stuff went on all the time in his house. It’s like an iceberg. 95% of it is submerged. We see the tiny piece that pokes above the surface and it’s pretty damn scary.
Towards the end of the filmmaking process, I met with Linda Jager, Speedo’s ex-wife, and talked with her about the film, and why the family story was so important to me. She was incredibly understanding. We hadn’t talked in two years. I invited her to the premiere, in New York, and she came, with her new boyfriend, Harvey. That was very important to me, that she felt as though she had been treated fairly.
How has the audience reaction been at festivals?
It’s been incredible. For all his warts, people seem to fall in love with Speedo and the festival response has been great. He’s a true original. The film is, I think, one of the rare big screen documentaries. It’s made for the big screen. The drama, the action, the story, the humor, the music. It all works best when we can share that experience with an audience. Speedo is a larger-than-life character. But then, it’s been great to have him at festivals because he’s taken it – and this surprised me – with such humility. People can scarcely believe he’s there, in the flesh. It’s been the most extraordinary rush. At Full Frame, the film won the audience award, and when the film was over the audience stood and applauded Speedo, the man, not the movie. It was the most sublime experience.
What are your future plans for the film?
Well, I just hope I can share the theatrical experience with people around the country. I’m hoping the film will get a real theatrical release. Then, I’ll be pursing television, and home video deals. The film has a bunch of festival screenings lined up this fall. The lineup is posted on my website.
Any other projects coming up?
Well, there’s been some interest in a fictional remake of Speedo. Hard to top the original, but that could be interesting.
I’m working on a project for AMC about conservatives in Hollywood, and, of course, trying like hell to get Speedo out there.