Movies about golf have been done before, and movies about children have also had their turn. But the two of them combined? The makers of “The Short Game” took on that challenge in their documentary, the first to be exclusively available through Netflix. At a Nov. 19 screening at the Soho House in West Hollywood, the filmmakers discussed their process, as well as how they dealt with their talent’s temper tantrums.
The doc follows a group of some of the most talented golfers in the world, all at the ripe ages of 6-8. Producer Rafael Marmor said that David Frankel, known for films including “Marley and Me” and “The Devil Wears Prada,” brought the subject to his attention because Frankel’s own young twins are involved in the world of youth golfing.
However, despite the joy of working with kids, there were plenty of challenges thrown their way.
“When kids lose at something, it’s difficult,” Marmor said. “They don’t want to talk. They want to cry. They want to, sometimes, throw their clubs.”
Still, Marmor explained that, for the most part, the kids were great because they built a good foundation with them from the get-go. A big part of that, he said, was director Josh Greenbaum.
Marmor went to Greenbaum as he has experience in comedy, and he wanted that humor to come out in the documentary. Luckily, he was great with the kids as well, and the humor came easily.
“If you spend enough time with kids, you know they’re funny,” Greenbaum said. “They say really funny stuff. But then what’s really interesting is, one line’s hilarious, you’re laughing, and the next line is incredibly poignant and wise.”
There was comedy in the parents of the children as well. Greenbaum explained that the parents are typically called “daddy caddies,” as they more often than not caddy for their small children.
While some of the children they profiled were shy, others loved the cameras. One of those was Alan Kournikova, younger brother of tennis champ Anna Kournikova. Greenbaum laughed at the Q&A following the screening as he remembered a moment where Kournikova’s camera-friendliness may have gone a little too far.
“We have a couple of hours of footage of when Alan Kournikova stole one of our cameras and went off and was filming B roll,” he said. “He’d be like, ‘Guys, I’m going to go get an establishing shot!’”
The film even found some high-profile backers. After viewing the film during SXSW, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel jumped on board as executive producers. Marmor said that was due in part to the couple’s love for golf, as Timberlake even owns his own golf course.
“The Short Game” hits Netflix on Dec. 12.
(Pictured: producer Rafael Marmor, composer Mark Mothersbaugh, director Josh Greenbaum and producer Chris Leggett)