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The Expert

Movie Makers

Mike Cahill, 25, and Brit Marling, 22, directors of

Sunday, April 17, 2005; Page M03

HOT SHOTS: Cahill: When I was 11, my dad had one of those big clunky VHS camcorders, and he used it for filming cheesy family stuff -- but I used it to make little films. I discovered the ability to make myths seem real, the beauty of creating truths.

Marling: I got into film much later in life. I was an econ major at Georgetown and had every intention of going into investment banking. Then in 2001, I saw an amazing film called "Lucid Grey." It won the festival's award and when two Georgetown students came up to accept the award, I was like, "I've got to meet them." One turned out to be Mike. I was still in school and interning at Goldman Sachs when Mike asked me to drop everything to go to Cuba to make "Boxers and Ballerinas." It felt like the right thing to do. I did eventually go back to Georgetown.

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COMING INTO FOCUS: Marling: In 2003, a friend showed us these striking photos of kids in Cuba with tiny bodies and baby-fat faces wearing huge boxing gloves and looking into the camera with all this bravado. At this young age, these kids were completely aware that if they worked hard and became successful boxers they might be able to leave the country. Then we thought it was important to find the feminine side of the equation. In terms of artistic endeavors in Cuba, that meant following a ballerina.

Cahill: The thesis of "Boxers and Ballerinas" is that freedom is very personal thing. It's about having a positive outlook.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION:Cahill: We took four or five trips over a period of a year and a half, and we had 350 hours of footage. Working with digital video is a curse and a blessing. You get all this great footage for cheap, but it has to be whittled down to a 90-minute film.

SAVVY SHOOTERS: Marling: Learning to use the camera is the easiest part. The hardest part is figuring out what you have to say that is unique.

Cahill: Pick up a camera and just do it! Don't be afraid of how crappy it might be. As told to Isabel C. Gonzalez

"Boxers and Ballerinas" is being shown as part of Filmfest DC on Monday at 6:30 p.m. and Tuesday at 9:15 p.m. at Landmark's E Street Cinema. www.boxersandballerinas.comWant to know about a certain topic? The Source will hunt down an expert. E-mail theexpert@washpost.com. Please include your name, city and phone number.

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