Spotlight: Bess Kargman, Director, 'First Position'
Bess Kargman’s documentary feature First Position follows six young dancers preparing to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix, one of the world’s most prestigious ballet competitions.
What prompted the idea for the film?
Bess Kargman: Two things compelled me to direct and produce First Position. I believed that my ballet background was enough of an asset to help me overcome some of the mistakes that I feared making as a first-time director. Secondly, growing up, this was a film I wished had existed.
There were a slew of veteran filmmakers who told me I was biting off more than I could chew. They reminded me how few documentaries are released theatrically each year, and how much work is required to distill hundreds of hours of footage into a 90-minute feature. These are things I never forgot along the way, but I forced myself to pretend otherwise. Maintaining such an outlook helped me stay focused and optimistic during the two years it took to shoot and edit the film.
I wanted to show that the level of devotion and amount of training required to succeed as a dancer is no different than in any other professional sport. I knew that if I could thoroughly document the worlds these dancers inhabit and the challenges they face on a daily basis, I would be able to craft an extremely unique documentary.