After the Race puts a lot of focus on the initiation and hazing process some Greek communities participate in. It took a tremendous amount of effort from the cast and crew to capture the mood and intensity of the process.

When I first received the script I wondered if Travis Mills (director and writer) had the intention of making this piece more of a social commentary than his other works. When asked what his intention might have been for After the Race, Mills simply stated, “My intention is always just to tell the story.”

Since Mills’ adaptation of After the Race by James Joyce (1914) is very different from the original, I decided to compare the two stories. The original focuses on a young man getting lost in a world of European aristocracy and popularity, eventually coming to realize he would regret his frivolous behavior. Mills’ film adaptation is about a sorority initiation that crosses many uncomfortable boundaries into bullying and hazing. It took me a moment to realize where the connection was between these two stories: both versions have an underlying theme of exclusivity and privilege associated with a select group of people, whether they are wealthy European men or college sorority sisters.

So how did Mills connect one to the other? “I felt like the original story was about someone trying to fit into a group and morally compromising in order to do so. It occurred to me that the sorority situation worked in a similar way so I started doing some minor research and it clicked for me,” says Mills.


As an actress that played one of the sorority sisters, Holly Nordquist had a difficult time staying in character during the initiation. “One of the hardest parts was watching these brave, half naked actresses get torn apart verbally and emotionally. People were just playing their characters but they were targeting real insecurities. The whole time I had to look pleased but in between takes it was impossible for me to not break character.”

Later on, I asked Nordquist how she was able to play Jenny, the “leader” of the initiation. “Most people looked at the script and thought Jenny was awful, but you can’t play a character you hate so I had to justify why Jenny did the things she did,” says Nordquist.

As the night wore on, none of the cast or crew complained about the shoot. It seemed that the content of the film was worth the exhaustion. “It was shocking and uncomfortable but I think that’s the point,” Nordquist says. “What’s worse is that these things actually happen…so although I was surprised, I was happy that the script had real, raw moments.” {As one of the other pledges, I can definitely say I agree with Nordquist’s sentiments.}

If you’re interested in more behind the scenes action on film 18 of 52, After the Race, check out the Running Wild webseries episode #18 on Youtube and keep an eye out for the finished product on Youtube and Runningwildfilms.com.

He knew that he would regret in the morning but at the present he was glad of the rest, glad of the dark stupor that would cover up his folly. He leaned his elbows on the table and rested his head between his hands, counting the beats of his temples. The cabin door opened and he saw the Hungarian standing in a shaft of grey light.

“Daybreak, gentleman!”
After the Race by James Joyce

Samantha Gorham