NYGossipGirl Exclusive Interview: Sarah Megan Thomas
Backwards centers around Abi Brooks (Thomas) a fiercely competitive 30-year-old rower who fails to make the Olympic boat for the second time. She takes a coaching job at a school, but struggles to adjust to life off the race course.
NYGossipGirl had the pleasure of chatting with Thomas about the film and what it was like working with co-star James Van Der Beek.
NYGG: When you were writing this, what was the story that you wanted to tell?
Thomas: The story I really wanted to tell was that of an Olympic athlete who almost makes it, but yet she doesn’t, and ultimately sits in the sidelines. I love sports films – they’re wonderful, but the athlete always wins in the end. I wanted it to be a story about someone who doesn’t make it.
NYGG: Women’s rowing is not often seen on film? Why did you want to change that?
Thomas: There’s never been a complete film about women’s rowing and it’s a sport that I wanted to bring to the big screen.
Check out the rest of NYGossipGirl’s exclusive interview with Sarah Megan Thomas after the jump!
NYGG: What is your background in rowing, and how did you get into filmmaking?
Thomas: I was a big athlete in high school and I have a rowing background. I also majored in theater. I think knowing the sport helped because you write about what you know – you don’t have to be autobiographical. I knew the culture of rowing, how much work goes into training and it helped.
NYGG: This is your first movie and the entire process from script to the big screen took 2 years. Did you have any challenges during that time?
Thomas: There were two large challenges – the first was fundraising. It’s tough in this environment to fundraise. I didn’t have any means attached, it was just me, my script and just trying to sell it. The second challenge was finding these two high school leads. They had to row and they had to act.
NYGG: Can you talk about training for this film?
Thomas: It was challenging because I was such an athlete growing up. I have injuries based on my over-training. I had to strike a balance between training and not getting hurt.
NYGG: What was it like working with James?
Thomas: He’s a really nice guy, very laid back. He had such a way of being very natural and he really felt like one of the group. He blended in rather than stood out. He was also very professional. We took him rowing once – it was a lot of fun. I think he realized how challenging it was.
NYGG: Do you prefer writing, acting or producing and why?
Thomas: I think writing is my least favorite. I love to produce because it gives you a creative control. They’re different things. Ultimately I was trained as an actress.
NYGG: What’s one thing that you want people to take away from this film?
Thomas: I really want people to have 90-minutes of enjoyable fun. I wrote it for them to sit down, relax and enjoy.