The Greatest – When Impossible Dreams Come True


The story behind the making of “The Greatest” is like one of those feel-good Hollywood movies where impossible dreams comes true. The independent film was written and directed by Shana Feste. It was her first long form feature. The cinematographer was John Bailey, ASC, who has earned some 70 narrative credits, including such memorable films as “Ordinary People,” “American Gigolo,” “The Big Chill, “Accidental Tourist,” “Groundhog Day” and “In The Line of Fire.”

Feste contacted Bailey because she admired his cinematography in “Ordinary People.” After speaking with Feste and reading her script, the veteran cinematographer embraced the opportunity, because he thought it was a story worth telling.

“The Greatest” is an intimate family drama about a mother and father who are coping with the lose of their son while supporting his troubled, pregnant teenage girlfriend and dealing with a younger son who is in a downward emotional spiral. Susan Sarandon and Pierce Brosnan are cast in leading roles.

The film was produced at practical locations, mainly a house in Rockland County, New York. Feste embraced Bailey’s suggestion that they produce the relatively low budget film in 35 mm anamorphic format coupled with traditional optical timing.

“I’ve learned to trust my instincts and what my heart tells me to do,” Bailey says. “I saw the film in anamorphic format in my mind while I was reading the script. It feels more organic and natural, like the way we see the world with our eyes. ”

“The Greatest” premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. It was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize and earned enthusiastic reviews. However, the most important review came from Lee Wimer, a veteran timer at Technicolor in Hollywood. “‘The Greatest” is a beautiful looking movie with dark scenes that define moods,” she said. “I could follow what was happening before I heard any sound.”

You can judge for yourself. “The Greatest” is opening on U.S. cinema screens during the first weekend in April. Stay tuned for future news. Bailey and Feste recently completed their second collaboration, “Love Don’t Let Me Down.”


Photo Credit:
The Greatest photo by Jojo Whildon
John Bailey photo by Bob Primes, ASC

About Bob Fisher

Bob Fisher was born and raised in Brooklyn. He earned a journalism degree from Long Island University, and began his career as a cub reporter at the New York Herald Tribune. Fisher was drafted into the U.S. Army in mid-1958. He served for two years as a journalist at an army base in Anniston, Alabama.That experience gave him a different view of the world. Several weeks before he was scheduled to complete his military obligation, Fisher answered an ad for a six-month job in Los Angeles writing a book based on interviews with members of the American Society of Cinematographers. Fisher had no idea what cinematographers did. The attraction was getting to see Los Angeles. Fisher estimates that he has subsequently written between 3,000 and 4,000 magazine articles about cinematographers and other narrative and documentary filmmakers. He is one of seven living honorary members of the American Society of Cinematographers. Four of the others are astronauts.

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