What makes a scene work?

Does it lie in the carefully executed plans of a film’s cast and crew? Or does the magic rest upon fortuitous mistakes, spontaneity and improvisation? What steps must be taken to convey your vision and intent? Watch our video series, Frame of Mind, to get answers to these questions and more from commentators working in a wide variety of areas in production who’ll guide you through clips from their films, in their own words. Moviemakers and film fans: Grab your notepads, popcorn, or both, and press play.

For Spirit Game: Pride of a Nation co-directors Peter Spirer and Peter Baxter, going “inside the helmets” of the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team called for tweaking the tools of their cinematography kit and toying with temporality.

Spirer and Baxter’s sports documentary, which hits the road with the Nationals as they advance through the 2015 World Box Lacrosse Championships, captures a pivotal moment in the sport’s history: the first time that its championship games were held on an Indian Reservation, in Onondaga in upstate New York, the Capitol of the Iroquois Confederacy. The task of depicting the emotionality, moment-to-moment action and fierce competitiveness of this event, say the co-directors, was met with a special attention to the both movement of the games and the intimate pre-game activity that precedes it.

In the videos below, Spirer and Baxter share their commentary on shooting two of Spirit Game‘s biggest sequences—the first of which depicts the play-by-play intensity of the Nationals’ face-off against the United States in slow motion, the second of which wields time-lapse techniques to ratchet up the pre-game tension of the Nationals’ climactic battle against Canada in the last of their championship games. Moviemakers seeking to take their sports, action or stylistic repertoires to the next level should find the co-directors’ lens and camera-oriented tech talk, here, especially instructive.

What did you take away from Spirer and Baxter’s frame of mind? Let us know in the comments below.

Spirit Game: Pride of a Nation opened in theaters May 26, 2017 and is available on VOD and iTunes June 20, 2017, courtesy of XLrator Media. Video courtesy of XLrator Media.