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Celebrating the Olympian in All of Us

Celebrating the Olympian in All of UsLisa Lax (J'86) and Nancy Stern (J'86) take a look back at the greatest moments in Olympic history through the eyes of the athletes, their families and their fans.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [09.12.08] From Kerri Strug's perseverance at the vault in 1996 to Mike Eruzione's winning goal in the "Miracle on Ice" game of 1980, decades of memorable Olympic moments continue to bring together people from all corners of the country who share feelings of both amazement and pride for these heroic athletes.

Considering both these legendary Olympic moments and the "Olympic-sized" moments that occur for everyday people, twin Tufts graduates Lisa Lax (J'86) and Nancy Stern (J'86) teamed up to create "Let it Out: The Movie," a 45-minute documentary looking at Olympic history through the memories of the athletes, their families and the fans who believed in them.

Gearing up for the 2008 Olympic season, the Kleenex company, creators of the "Let it Out" commercial campaign that features people letting out their emotions on film, approached Lax and Stern for ideas for a public relations campaign leading into their Olympic sponsorship.

"We loved the commercials for their 'Let It Out' campaign which they started last year, so we thought why not just do a blow-out version of those commercials," Lax says.

The documentary interweaves a series of interviews from 16 Olympic athletes and 12 fans from across the country.

"We probably talked to more than 75 people, shooting over 100 hours of interviews to then cut down to a 45-minute film," Lax says. "We talked to Olympic legends and then people who were just fans. It was the moments that the fans remembered most that really helped us structure the film."

The film premiered in Beijing before members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, other sponsors and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

"People like Bela Karolyi and Michael Johnson who were in the film were there to see it," Lax says. "It was a very well received. It's just so powerful."

Both Lax and Stern came into this project with perspectives from both sides of the fence-as both sports fans and former athletes.

During their Tufts years, the twins were triple athletes, competing in lacrosse, tennis and squash. Once their Jumbo days were over, neither strayed too far from the sports realm, with Lax working as a producer/director at NBC Sports and the Olympic profiles unit, and Stern a producer of ABC's "Wide World of Sports." In 2002, the pair left their respective networks to create Lookalike Productions, a full-service production company specializing in documentaries and other forms of media.

Currently, Stern is producing a special on magician David Blaine for ABC, slated to air on Sept. 24. In the spring, the pair plans to work together on a project for Sesame Street Workshop concerning the affect that a parent's return home from war has on children and their families.

Looking at "Let it Out" from an athlete's perspective, Lax says it was amazing to be able to relive her playing days through the stories of Olympians.

"One of the stories we focused on was the story of the women's soccer team throughout their three Olympic games, winning two gold medals and a silver," Lax says. "We heard stories from Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm, and hearing some of their stories of camaraderie made me reminisce about how amazing it was to be an athlete at Tufts and especially a part of the lacrosse team in the 80s."

Now that the 2008 Summer Olympics have ended, Lax says there is definitely one name that comes to mind when thinking of who would have made it into the documentary-Michael Phelps.

"Michael Phelps had about eight 'Let it Out' moments on his own," Lax laughed. "But also, I think the women's beach volleyball and gymnastics teams may have made the cut."

While Lax says being able to work with her sister was definitely the best part of the project, she says she also enjoyed sharing in the personal stories of the fans.

"For me, what was really special about this was the opportunity to weave the personal stories of everyday people with the athletes' stories, because it kind of makes you step back and realize that while these athletes are up on these pedestals, in a way we are all Olympians in our own lives," Lax says. "We found that the themes that relate heavily to the Olympics, such as the importance of family and perseverance, are also themes that are very powerful in the lives of everyday people."

Lax added, "We had a woman who was a labor delivery nurse. We had a breast cancer survivor. It was an interesting way to do it, and I think it really worked."

"Let it Out: The Movie," can be viewed from now until the end of the year at letitout.com.

Profile by Kaitlin Melanson, Web Communications.

 

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