An intimate portrait of the highwire family The Flying Wallendas - an exploration into the struggle for survival of traditional circus.
"Being on the wire is living--everything else is just waiting." --Karl Wallenda
I ran away with the circus at the age of 40. Or rather, I was carried away by it - from the moment I met The Flying Wallendas in 2004. Not because I dreamed of walking the highwire, or of performing in front of a crowd. Rather, I had an epiphany when I met them, casting for a short film about a boy who lives on a tightrope.
I had preconceived notions of who I was going to meet: "daredevils", people willing to put their lives at risk for any cost, people not concerned with the banalities of day-to-day life like the rest of us. And yet, the family I met was very, very different.
This film tells their story - their family story.
I was drawn to their sense of respect for their heritage, of their desire to carry on tradition through 8 generations. I was struck by the fact that they rely on each other - literally - for their lives. I found an openness and a trust that I'd rarely experienced. I felt compelled to follow them, and to tell their story.
I started scheduling my vacations around their schedule - dragging my children along while I shot. I pulled in friends, family, anyone who'd help out - all to get at this elusive "thing" - this connection - they possessed as a family and performing unit. I had to know if it was true, if it was real, if the reliance on each other for their lives aided in solidifying this deeper bond.
Deerfield, NH, Lansing MI, Dayton, OH - it was in these "secondary cities" - in the intimacy of the trailer, in the flurry of the backstage, in the intensity of the performances - that I witnessed the tightness of the community, and the true bond of the family unit. I observed a family struggling with all the same issues any family struggles with -- making ends meet, attempting to raise strong, healthy, independent children who also understand - and embrace - the family business; conflict, illness, birth, and death -- and figure out how to stay together -- how to thrive. And how to put some of it aside each time they climb the tower and rely on each other for their lives.
Is traditional circus dying?
It was also here that I witnessed the dire circumstances under which they survived - small audiences, low pay, lack of respect - and in it I saw traditional circus dying. And it killed me. Because if the circus died, so would their livelihood. And the dreams it instills in so many of us.
I had to do what I could to help.
I knew then that this film had a mission beyond just a document of their unique family. If I could tell their story in an engaging way for audiences beyond circus aficionados, then maybe I could draw attention back to the art - and highly developed skill - that makes up much of traditional circus. And in that I could do my small part to help.
"Being on the wire is living--everything else is just waiting."
This was Karl Wallenda's signature phrase. And it resonates -- I think with all of us. We all have that "wire" -- that thing we would do, regardless of money, regardless of logic, because it "speaks" to us on an internal level -- it is at the core of who we are.
The circus encourages us to dream big - to believe in our own possibilities.
How can you help?
The money I am raising is to help offset post-production expenses, including rights clearance and final color correction and finishing. I hope to premiere the film in Spring 2012, so you will see the results of your contributions very quickly. All backers will receive regular updates from me. And the postcards and buttons will be shipped as soon as the funding goal is reached.
Thank you for believing in this dream and becoming a member of the team through your contribution.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.