Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cleveland -> "someone to watch" award

This entry should have been posted in March, 2008.

A huge, heartfelt thank you THANK YOU to the Cleveland International Film Festival for giving me a "Someone to Watch" award. What an auspicious beginning! I'm honored, proud and humbled to get this recognition. Although I still cannot imagine finishing JUMP! completely or moving on to my next projects, this award definitely renews my desire to continue. Thank you, CIFF, for believing in me.

Now onto a recap of our experience at the fest... which began with them booking 2 extra screenings of JUMP! because advanced tickets were selling so well. This brought us to 5 screenings -- 3 public + 2 Film Slam (a special program for students). We were psyched that there was great word of mouth building already and strong demand for the film -- at this point, we're considering our festival run to be our theatrical release.

Upon arrival, I was greeted with a fleet of nice festival volunteers. All for me?? Not really. Turns out there was a gi-normous blizzard and tons of other filmmakers' flights couldn't get in. The snow was major! I did not go outside for 4 days. The strange part was that I barely noticed. We were having so much fun and staying in one of those mid-western super-malls that is like a contained village -- the hotel, movie theater, jump demo area, restaurant and bars were all there under one roof.

The weather also made it tough for audiences -- though die-hards still came in droves. Tori, her cousin Brooke (who also jumps and is an all-state soccer player), and Tori's mom Rochelle braved the storm, driving in from West Virginia, to do interactive jump rope demonstrations on Saturday. Sunday, they were joined by the Heartbeats of Ohio (based in the greater Cleveland/Akron area), Tori's cute older brother (who's training to be a professional soccer player and also learning jump rope tricks from sis), and loads of her teammates on Jump Company, who chartered a huge tour bus to come in!

Our weekend screenings and interactive jump rope demonstrations before & after each show were such a hit that we were asked to do a 6th screening the following weekend! Yay! I couldn't stick around in Cleveland, but Tori was able come back to do a post-screening Q&A -- which by all accounts she rocked. And then 450+ people gathered to watch our final interactive jump rope demonstration! They were surrounding the jumpers on the mall's ground floor and also crowding each of three floors overhanging above.

LOCALS: if you want to start a new team, join an existing one, or book a jump rope performance, contact the teams linked above and also USA Jump Rope! They will help you. Also -- a couple of people asked us to do special event screenings in Cleveland in the future. Please sign up for our mailing list for updates.

Another cool thing: for our final school screening, Emily and Coach Mod came to see the film and perform with their new jump rope group. It was great to catch up. They all loved the movie and kept saying how accurate it was. As some of you probably remember from the film, Em and Mod were key peeps on the River Valley Skippers, same team as Tori. Before the world competition showed in the film, they decided to dissolve RVS and focus on performing and teaching jump rope instead of competing. Tori then spearheaded the formation of a new team, Jump Company. (Side note: editor Scott and I lovingly and jokingly describe Tori as the CEO of Jump Rope, so we think this team name is perfect!) Mod & Emily's group is called High 5; they're interested in spreading the sport all over the mid-Ohio Valley region (and the world, of course!).

Other Highlights:
+ Nice, nice, nice staff and volunteers
+ Overhearing people say JUMP! was hot.
+ Reconnecting with a former boss and mentor, Morgan Neville, who's film "Cool School" was also playing at CIFF.
+ Seeing a diverse other docs, especially "Up the Yangzte" and "Spine Tingler"

Crowd gathers for our first demo...and grew to 450+ people
by our last demo •
Tori & Brooke get 'em goin' • JUMP! director/producer
Helen with Emily (former World Champion jumper and film subject) & Coach Mod


Anonymous said...


I was telling a friend a story about my experience at the film festival this year and then I thought I should share it with you. This year I decided to take my best friend and her girls to see JUMP!. Her girls are 7 and 5 they had a great time and loved the jump rope demonstration on the Sunday afternoon.

This was their very first documentary and couldn’t believe that the “star” of the show was at the festival.

The 7year old has been talking about it so much that my best friend went on your website thinking she would buy a copy of the film and then found a jump rope group in Strongsville, Ohio. Her child is now enrolled in a jump rope summer camp.

I just want to thank you and the Cleveland International Film Festival for bringing this movie here. We had a wonderful time but more than that it exposed my friend to an opportunity for her girl to get involved in something that she loves to do.

It was my friend’s first exposure to the film festival. She has already asked me what next year will bring for her and her family.


Hallie Yavitch
Assistant Director of Programming
Playhouse Square

Anonymous said...

Dear Helen,

Wow! The film was amazing. There are no other words to describe it! Well, there are many words that do, but I was in awe watching it. I’m positive that the jump rope world has said the same and we owe a great deal of thanks to you and your hard working crews. Even though we have been around the sport for many years and know the tricks, the friends, and the family, JUMP! draws us in just like the first day we picked up a rope. It honestly brought tears to my eyes and touched me in words that I can’t describe. As Courtney said at lunch, “to those who don’t know about the sport and do not understand, this is it!” I know that a simple “thank you” isn’t enough for the hours you dedicated to the film, our sport, and our lives, but THANKS!

After a few years of being out of the competition realm, I truly realize how much jump rope has formed the person that I am today. I mean, yes, my parents, family, friends, and God have been the main influences in my life. However, jump rope taught all of us, so much about life. I know you’ve heard this from all of us, but it never gets old.

A lot has happened since the filming, changes in life and new directions. But this film, seeing my family and our faith, truly put me in state of God’s amazing grace yet again. His simple, but everlasting love for all of us and the joy and life He brings with each and every day is something I often overlook and don’t give thanks to Him enough. I am reminded so much of that verse, “For God so loved the world…” I was reminded by the film today that this is the most important part of life. I know, though, that jump rope (Mod, team, friends, competition, family…) has influenced every aspect of my life and always will. It has for all of us and you captured this beyond belief in the film!

I hope that sometime we can get together and just chat about anything and everything. This time I’ll buy the plane ticket, so you don’t have to spend anymore on that. I’m sitting here now, and I do miss it! Last year was much fun with High Five and the new direction of performance and workshops, but competing and seeing everyone is something that I miss. When I was sitting beside Courtney, we were like “Awww I want to go to Disney and compete again! Let’s do it!” This feeling was because of the effort you put in the film and the true story that it brings to life! Again, thanks so much!

Best wishes to you and good luck in your interview. I imagine that you are eager to get back to working. Take care and I’ll be sure to keep in touch. Congratulations!


Anonymous said...


Wow!! I loved the documentary! It has made me so excited about jump rope again! I hope that a lot of people get to see it and learn what an amazing sport jump rope really is. Thanks again for everything!!

Melanie Hendershot