The filmmakers of “At the Ready” — a documentary following students training to become Border Patrol officers — know how timely their film is, but they didn’t want to let recent politics shape the doc entirely.
“At the Ready” also takes a look at how the Trump Administration changed policies surrounding the U.S.-Mexico border, It documents moments where children are separated from their parents at the border, prompting many students to weigh their options.
“I think the outside forces definitely play a part in the shaping of all these young adults, but I think no matter the time period, the time we made this film, the outside forces would shape one part of this journey,” director Maisie Crow told Beatrice Verhoeven at TheWrap’s Sundance studio presented by NFP and National Geographic. “We wanted to include those but not just have the film be about those, so we could have the film have more of a shelf life. These issues are always going to be changing, but the decisions these kids have to make will always be the same.”
Producer Hillary Pierce agreed, saying that this was something the filmmakers weighed in post-production. “When you have these memorable moments in the administration or in the country’s history, you worry about, maybe this won’t feel timely when it comes out, but those are in our very recent past and they led us to where we are right now. As a country, we are doing so much soul searching and figuring out why we are where we are. I think this film does feel topical in that sense.”
The filmmakers spent two years filming and getting to know the students and their families.
“Once we figured out who our characters were, we build upon where we could grow with them in vulnerability as time went on,” producer Abbie Perrault said. “We worked with a young teenage boy and they are not the most forthcoming because they have their walls up. Just spending time and day after day with him and slowly letting him feel comfortable with us and let his walls down brings some of the amazing, vulnerable moments in the film.”
TheWrap’s Sundance Studio is sponsored by NFP and National Geographic.
Watch the full interview above.