Ice Mermaid premieres on KCTS

The 42-minute documentary, Ice Mermaid: Cold Resolve, that I made about Melissa Kegler’s quest to swim farther and colder than any American is now streaming on KCTS. You can watch the trailer and stream the film via the KCTS 9 Passport app.

I’m thrilled that the film has received this distribution from PBS, and what’s more, I’ve recently learned that it has been selected for a major international film festival! More details on that coming soon in a separate post.

I first met Melissa a couple of years ago, when I was teaching a cinematography workshop at Seattle Film Institute. I wanted to give my students an opportunity to work with some high-quality footage, and I thought this topic might provide us that in an accessible environment for the class. I found an open-water swimming group on Facebook, and the page owner, Oscar Brain, agreed to let us film him doing an early-morning swim at Golden Gardens. Here’s the little film we made from that:

While we were filming this, Oscar kept mentioning this person named Melissa Kegler. She’d swum the English Cannel, around Manhattan, Catalina Island, on and on. So that made me curious about her. After this short video was published on the group’s facebook page, I noticed that Melissa liked it. So I reached out to her and asked if she’d be willing to be our second subject for the last half of the class. She agreed, and we made this little video together:

It’s worth mentioning that our inspiration for the making of both of these videos was the film Nomadland. We definitely sought to mimic the use of early-morning light used so effectively in that film. Astute observers may even note the presence, in Oscar’s video, of the same lantern as the one carried by Frances McDormand in the Badlands campground scene.

While we were filming Melissa, she mentioned that she was kind of thinking about tackling the US record for ice swimming. I thought that sounded like something worth a longer project, and she agreed. So that was how the longer documentary project got started.

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