You’ve heard me tell you how incredible this movie is — well, be sure to visit Whole Foods Market tomorrow morning, say around 10-ish, to see some amazing hooping demonstrations. For now…
And here is an interview with the incredible Amy Goldstein, the film’s director!
INSIDER: How did you first become aware of — and involved in — the exciting resurgence (and life-changing transformation) of hooping?
AMY: Much of my work touches on outsider communities and what brings people together. For instance, I toured extensively with R. Kelly for a screenplay set in the hip-hop community. My previous film East of A was set over a decade, one day a year, about an alternative family who risks it all adopting a baby with HIV.
Six years ago, around Venice, Calif., where I live I began meeting a lot of people who identified as “hoopers” and who hula-hooped. Their community was very welcoming with participatory hoop jams all over the city, at music and art festivals like Burning Man. Everything about the hoopers made me want to join them. I wanted to celebrate their openness and playfulness in a film with the same tone and energy as the movement they were spearheading.
INSIDER: Is hula-hooping a way to keep fit?
AMY: No question about it, hooping keeps you fit. It works your whole body, from the inside out! A mellow 10 minutes of hooping and you will burn 100 calories in an hour, the equivalent of two burgers. Shaq O’Neal, featured in The Hooping Life, uses it as a conditioning tool and Michelle Obama hooped at the White house recently to encourage healthy lifestyles. It’s a very accessible, inexpensive way to exercise, and it’s damn fun!
All you need is a hula-hoop, which you can make yourself out of irrigation tubing and colorful tape. There are videos online on how to learn, how to make a hoop, etc. We encourage Sarasotans to come try the hoop at the hoop jams one hour before each of our screenings. Hoops and how-tos will be provided by the local hoop troupe The Hoola Monsters.
INSIDER: Is there a spiritual side to hooping?
AMY: Definitely. Baxter, a young man from North Carolina featured in The Hooping Life is a great example of how hooping can be an alternative spiritual practice. Baxter suffered from depression for many years. In the film, we see him reconnecting with his inner rhythm and the world as he moves the hoop around his body. Baxter has just completed a 10-city tour teaching The Hoop Path, a spiritual practice he created out of his own experience that gets your body and your mind in shape.
INSIDER: How large is the hooping community?
AMY: Well, it is hard to quantify, the census bureau is still counting “hoopers” this year!
What I can say is that there are more than 1.6 million results on Google for hula-hooping… There is a hoop class, a hoop performer, a hoop-maker in practically every town in America. More than 1 million hoops have been made by hand to date.
INSIDER: What are good examples of positive lifestyle changes as a result of hooping?
AMY: One of the main characteristics of the hooping community is that they are very… community-oriented! In the film, Tisha brings hula-hooping to at risk youth in South Central, Los Angeles, to keep them from the gangs. A lot of hoopers organize weekly free hoop jams at farmer’s markets, fairs, everywhere across America. They build community wherever they are. There are many incentives, locally and globally. Hooping for hope in Nashville raises funds for breast cancer survivors by organizing an annual half hoop marathon. That’s right, you are actually hoop jogging throughout the marathon! There’s also World Hoop Day where hoopers congregate once a year in towns from Stockholm to Tokyo and hoop together, give hoops away to their communities and donate thousands of hand-made hoops to children living in poverty.
INSIDER: What challenges did you face when creating your stunningly shot and totally thrilling documentary?
AMY: This is very generous of you! Some challenges were time and money. I had to keep writing for a living, which prevented me from working on the film full-time. But last year I was awarded an HBO-DGA Directing Fellowship that bought me some time. As we were not in a position to follow our protagonists around with cameras all of the time, but wanted the intimacy, spontaneity and spectacle of their daily hooping lives, I had to find easy-to-use equipment, and train the hoopers to make use of video recording equipment themselves. They were very much my partners in the film… The video camera became a confidant that allowed their stories to be recorded in the most intimate, uninhibited manner. Sass documented her return to South Africa to the house where she was raped and hula-hooped her life back. Anah and Christabel took theirs on their world hoop tour.
INSIDER: What were some of your favorite moments from the shoot?
AMY: Hooping moments! I would drop the camera to hoop when something would not work and make me feel frustrated. It’s really a great outlet!
INSIDER: How has creating this brilliant film changed your life?
AMY: The hoopers in The Hooping Life have taught me by example to dream with perseverance.
INSIDER: What’s next for you?
AMY: Well, making a film nowadays is only about 20 percent of the challenge. We must find the most dynamic way to release The Hooping Life. And as hooping is great summer fun, and we want the hooping community and non-hoopers who are discovering us to actively take part in the release (with jams outside theaters like the ones organized by the Hoola Monsters in Sarasota) we are working with a creative team of social media specialists and theatrical gurus to have the film in a theater near you!
I do have a few other projects in the works. I have started documenting a very specific side of the illegal immigration issue and am currently working with a collective of young talented Cuban artists on another documentary.
THE INSIDER—wanted by motion picture executives for revealing industry secrets to a public with the Right to Know, “The Insider” has spent over 15 years working behind the scenes in almost every aspect of “The Biz” developing a secret network of contacts, spies, moles, and highly trained counter-intelligence operatives and movie ninjas whose only goal is to inform and entertain you—and help you make this the best year of the Sarasota Film Festival ever!