Local athletes and actors will get to know ‘The Legend of Diaz’
Filmmaker Jan Lauren Greenfield is in full pre-production for her new short film, “The Legend of Diaz,” which is scheduled to start a three-day shoot in Park City on July 13.
The short is a coming-of-age comedy about the trials of a group of teen boys coping with high school’s trials: girls, rivalries and, in their case, national ski competitions, according to Greenfield.
“They are students at a winter sports academy, and they learn that their biggest rival, Casey Diaz, is transferring to their school,” she said.
There is mystery surrounding Diaz, who always takes first at all the competitions but never stays long enough to get the medals, Greenfield said.
“The mystery is also exacerbated because no one knows what Casey looks like because of the goggles and helmet,” she said. Director Greenfield, who also produced and wrote the film, said the story was inspired by her brother, who is a Winter Sports School student. She said she is in awe with the balance he and his classmates strike as student-athletes.
“They are 14- and 15-year-olds who are dealing with everyday kid stuff, but also preparing professional careers as athletes,” she said. “I had never seen so much passion they all have for the training and competing before.”
Greenfield was also interested in showing how these kinds of athletes get to the Olympics and X Games.
“You see them compete, but you really don’t know how they got there,” she said. “So, I thought it would be interesting to bring that little window of their world onto the big screen.”
Greenfield worked on the script for almost a year.
“My writing process starts with the idea that sits in my head, before I start putting things down on paper and start shaping the story,” she said. “I’m not a ceramicist, but I think about the process as a piece of clay. I’ll work it and then go to a different draft.”
The filmmaker wanted to cast actors who had a good balance of athleticism and acting skills, so she both put out a call for professional actors, and also worked with Winter Sports School headmaster Tessa Miner-Farra to find local talent.
“She was kind enough to send an email to her student body,” Greenfield said. “So many of the actors are her student athletes who are nationally competitive snowboarders, freestyle and alpine skiers. And I know that some of them are ones who we will be cheering on in future X Games and Olympics.”
Greenfield herself is a New Yorker, but her production crew, including producer Mario DeAngelis and director of photography Holly Tuckett (“Church and State“) are from Utah.
DeAngelis is known for producing include Cameron Bossert’s “Jewtah,” and Tuckett directed the 2018 documentary “Chuch & State.”
Greenfield connected with DeAngelis, who is also part of Slamdance’s local staff, through a mutual friend who had worked with him on another film. DeAngelis, in turn, connected Greenfield with Tuckett.
“I feel so lucky to have Holly as the DP,” Greenfield said. “She’s a consummate professional, and I’m excited to be on set with her.”
“The Legend of Diaz” marks Greenfield’s directorial debut, making manifest a dream that she had followed since she was a child.
“I remember growing up with my dad’s camera in my face, so my life from ages 0 to 7 is fully documented,” she said with a laugh. “As soon as I could work the camera, I began making home videos, and directing my sister.”
Greenfield plans to take “The Legend of Diaz” to different film festivals.
“Then I want to develop it as a proof of concept for a bigger, episodic show,” she said.
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Sundance Film Festival kicks off on a virtual platform Thursday.