March 30, 2023

Interview: Director Lauren Hadaway on why The Novice isn’t a sports movie


It’s a film about obsession, the compulsion to win – and, as director Lauren Hadaway agrees, full of blood sweat and tears. Her debut feature, The Novice, draws on her own experiences in her college rowing club and has drawn praise from critics and audiences alike for its compulsive, physical storytelling.

It follows Alex, a top flight student with an intense desire to win at everything she does – even if it’s something that doesn’t really interest her. She doesn’t need to join the rowing club, but her obsession with winning takes her there, purely so she can earn a seat on in the prestigious varsity boat. It takes over her life, physically and mentally, as she finds that the price of what she believes is success is astronomically high.

In the exclusive interview below, Hadaway explains how she set out to bring a story to the screen that nobody else could tell and how it reflects her time as a collegiate rower to the point where it took over her life. She also describes the rigours that went with shooting the film on the water and how she found herself editing the film in her kitchen during the pandemic. And she considers the influence of Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, a film that she worked on as Sound Editor.


The Novice is released in cinemas on 1st April | Read our review of the film here.