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There Is No Finish Line

By Barbara Goldman


NIke Documentary on Olympic marathon champion Joan Benoit-Samuelson

© SARAH HENDERSON
Olympic champion Joan Benoit-Samuelson still keeps running.


I’ve never dropped out of any race I’ve started.” These are the confident words that begin a documentary directed by Erich Lyttle, with Director of Photography and Creative Direction by Sarah Henderson, produced by Geoff Hollister and written by Bob Lambie and Amie Champagne. Music producer, John Askew, has recently joined the project to develop original score. Henderson plans to bring in independent artists from such labels as Temporary Residence.

Sarah Henderson works as a photographer, videographer and creative director based out of Portland, OR. She works with passion and is committed to meaningful communication that impacts viewers on projects that involve social global spirit, environmental inspiration and creative teamwork. Recently she and Lyttle were tapped by Nike to do a documentary on the first-ever women's Olympic marathon champion Joan Benoit-Samuelson.

Lyttle had directed the award winning documentary on Steve Prefontaine, Fire on the Track (1995), produced by Nike Executive, Geoff Hollister. Hollister  then brought Lyttle and Henderson in as creative contributors to produce a 12-minute inspirational video on Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman entitled Builderman, where Henderson got to work with and photograph narrator and actor Sam Elliott (The Big Lebowski), as well as Nike CEO Mark Parker and Chairman, Phil Knight. On Builderman she also did photo editing, music supervision and creative direction of motion graphics, working closely with other contributors such as music composer, John Askew, and motion designer, Nick Schrunk. The success of the Builderman video led Lyttle and Henderson to There is No Finish Line, green-lit by Nike CEO Mark Parker and Chairman Phil Knight.

The Nike in-progress 45-minute documentary features the life and spirit of Benoit-Samuelson, the first woman to win the Olympic Gold Medal in the 1984 Los Angeles summer Olympics, the year that the women’s marathon was introduced.. Her rise to fame paralleled the women's movement for recognition and validation in sports. This story portrays her determination to keep running despite barriers into her fifth decade of life. Joanie's relevancy remains today, not only as a pro athlete, but also as a great, yet modest, spirit and "accidental leader" of our time. This past year, Henderson and a small independent crew traveled around North America trying to keep up with Samuelson’s marathon lifestyle including her vital work as an ocean conservationist, a master organic gardener, a wife and mom of two, and as a fitness mentor to youth.

After Henderson and Lyttle complete this internal documentary for Nike, they plan to move forward with an indie feature-length film version, possibly for Sundance, IFC or Halogen, and funding will be the next hurdle. You can view There Is No Finish Line on Vimeo.  To see more of the multi-talented Henderson and her creative storytellingwork that incorporates still photography, videography, creative direction, design and music, view her site at: www.sirenapictures.com.
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