Ballet is hard work.
That might seem obvious to anyone who knows what it takes to stage a spectacle, from the intricate choreography to the impeccably fit dancers and highly-trained musicians.
Still, it's one thing to know it and another to see it: The new vérité documentary "Ballet 422," out Friday, follows the development and rehearsal of "Paz de La Jolla," the New York City Ballet's 422nd production, choreographed by then-25-year-old dancer Justin Peck in 2013.
Filmmaker Jody Lee Lipes sees the movie as less about ballet specifically -- though there's plenty in here for aficionados -- and more about the process of achieving a difficult end result through grueling work.
"I'm fascinated with people who work really hard at what they do," he says. "And ballet dancers are a good example of that. Just people who are really focused and work really hard and give things up to make what they make."
Beneath the meticulous depiction of rehearsals, consultations and quiet study sessions, Lipes aspires to tell a personal story about a young man facing an incredible opportunity.
"It just happened to be that the art form Justin was working in is ballet," Lipes says. "It's more like the kind of person that he is and the way that he's dealing with this opportunity that he has, the way he's coming into his career as a young person who's still finding his footing artistically and politically in this institution that interests me."
Lipes, who has also worked as a cinematographer on films such as Lena Dunham's "Tiny Furniture," says the direct approach of vérité cinema, absent talking heads, enhances the tension as Peck and his team craft the ballet: "It feels like anything can happen, and you're watching it as it's happening."