Completion costs for a documentary about the man who swam the length of the Mississippi as a multiple sclerosis fundraiser.
Thanks for your interest and to all the backers who helped us REACH OUR GOAL!!
Once the project deadline passes and funding becomes official, as promised, I'll post a video of me running into the Potomac River!
Swim Lessons: The Nick Irons Story is a short documentary film about how his father's fight with multiple sclerosis inspired Nick to swim the length of the Mississippi River in 1997 as a fundraiser for a cure.
People told him he was crazy, but by believing in himself, he proved them wrong. He also had a little help...
Nick achieved his goal of swimming the 1550 miles from Minneapolis to Baton Rouge and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars with grassroots support from countless friends, family, and total strangers, most of whom bought T-shirts or made $20 donations. Now I'm asking you -- a friend, a family member, or a total stranger -- to help me share his uplifting story with audiences everywhere.
Based on his award-winning book, this 40-minute documentary premiered at the 2008 Rhode Island International Film Festival where it won a Best Short Documentary Award. It went on to screen at the 2009 Baltimore Women's Film Festival, where it won two awards, and the 2009 Louisville International Festival of Film. The Baltimore Sun called it "intimate, funny," and Emmy and Oscar-winning documentary director William Whiteford said it "blew him away."
Swim Lessons has received a distribution offer, but in order to accept it we need funding to fulfill some obligations. Specifically, your pledge will fund two things:
- To purchase full licenses for the archival footage and recorded music used in the film
- To compensate the professionals who worked on deferred pay
Your pledges -- however big or small -- will enable me to accept the distribution offer and fulfill the film's potential to inspire people everywhere to pursue their dreams. If you believe in the story but can't pledge, don't worry! You can still help by sharing this project with people you know.
Call me crazy...I dare you. But I believed together we can make it happen, and now I know it's soon to be a reality!
- Alex Houston
To hear some of Haik Naltchayan's music and see his filmography, visit his website, www.haikmusic.com.
I got back in touch with Nick rather randomly in the spring of 2004 (we graduated from college together), completely unaware of what he'd done. After hearing his story and reading his book, I was compelled to make the film. It took 4 years to shoot the interviews, gather the footage, and edit the film.
The retrospective interviews were shot on a Panasonic DVX-100B @ 23.98pA with an anamorphic widescreen adapter which allowed me to use the full DV raster in anticipation of a theatrical presentation. The first compact HD cameras (like the HVX-100) had just been released and media was still prohibitively expensive at the time of production.
Archival footage was a mix of formats: DVCPro, BetaSP, Betacam, even some 3/4" and VHS. The home movies, which comprise a significant portion of the swim footage, were shot on Hi8.
The Irons family gave me generous access to their scrapbooks and journals from the swim, and Dave Douglas loaned me the original US Army Corps of Engineers navigation charts he used, which contain handwritten notes of Nick's position so that they could pick up exactly where they left off from session-to-session and day-to-day. I was even able to find an archived version of the original 1997 swim website designed and maintained by Nick's older brother John.
The film was edited on Avid, with some animations composed in After Effects. Avid's new capabilities have enabled a remaster in HD, so the released version will be much higher quality than the award-winning original, with crisper graphics and richer, more vibrant colors.
6 hours a day in two 3-hour sessions with 30-minute sets
6 days a week
He did not miss a single day.
See the $300 reward to the right --->
He's doing well. A more elaborate answer is in the film, so you'll need to make sure the the project gets funded if you want to see it!
The film is just a few seconds under 40 minutes, which qualifies it as a "short subject" under current Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rules.
I self-funded, shooting what I could afford to save from paycheck to paycheck. I also refinanced the condo I was living in at the time to cover some of the production cost (and get new windows).
It was "low-budget," but in this industry that can still mean a lot. Let's just say it was way more than I need to raise right now, I'm trying not to think about it, and I doubt I'll ever make it all back. Nor does it really matter. The film was a labor of love - I loved the story so much I really didn't have a choice. I had to make it.
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Pledge $1 or moreYou selected
BACK IT FOR A BUCK! So little effort for so much good karma, gratitude, and a thank-you email from the director...Estimated delivery:
Pledge $5 or moreYou selected
FUND IT FOR A FIVER! Honest Abe gives you 5x karma and a personal, handwritten thank-you note from the director on an official Swim Lessons postcard to prove it to the Karma Police...Estimated delivery:
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An autographed CD featuring a "best of" compilation from original score composer Haik Naltchayan, including his favorite cues from Swim Lessons and his other films, and more great music you can't buy in stores. (Check out his website, linked in the description, for samples. GREAT GIFT!) I will also swim a lap in a standard lap pool in your honor and post a video to prove it. (Any stroke but butterfly -- I may be crazy but not that crazy!)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $25 or moreYou selected
A DVD of the film with "extras," autographed by the director and Nick Irons - remember, DVDs make GREAT gifts!Estimated delivery:
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The autographed Swim Lessons DVD, plus an autographed official movie poster - also a GREAT gift!Estimated delivery:
Pledge $75 or moreYou selected
Nick's quest was all about helping people. I'm not as good a swimmer as Nick, but I'm pretty handy in the kitchen, and it's the holiday season when food banks and shelters need the most support. So for this reward, I'll bake 2 dozen of Nick's delicious and healthy "energy muffins," donate them to a local Washington, DC charity in your honor, send you the secret recipe, and post a video to prove it. These muffins really are quite good...Estimated delivery:
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"Sponsor" listing in the film credits and on the website, autographed DVD and movie posterEstimated delivery:
Pledge $300 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)
Two sessions of personal fitness training WITH NICK at Irons Fitness, his brand-new, state-of-the-art training gym (transportation to Bethesda, MD not included)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or moreYou selected
"Associate Producer" credit in the film and on the film website, a rare autographed copy of Nick's book, Swim Lessons: Ten Secrets for Making Any Dream Come True, autographed DVD and movie poster and Haik Naltchayan "best of" CDEstimated delivery:
Pledge $1,000 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)
Corporate sponsorship - For legal corporate entities only (LLC, Inc., etc), those pledging at or above this level will receive a PBS-like "This film made possible in part through generous support from" 3-second dedicated credit in the end credit roll (no voiceover), plus a company-linked credit (with logo) on the film website. PLEASE NOTE: For private individual $1000 (or greater) backers, please see reward #11 "CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER"Estimated delivery:
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1 backer Limited (1 left of 2)
"CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER" credit in the end credits, on the film's official IMDB listing, and on the movie poster, dinner for you and a guest with Nick and me in the Washington, DC area (transportation outside the DC metro area not included), autographed copy of Nick's book, DVD, movie poster, and composer Haik Naltchayan "best of" CD.Estimated delivery:
- (30 days)