Helmick Family Live Their Dream To Make 'Take Your Dream'

Helmick Family Live Their Dream To Make ‘Take Your Dream’

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Take Your Dream is a feature length documentary film centered around a 2,400 km stage swim down Australia’s longest river, River Murray. Eric Helmick takes his two sons, Hunter Helmick and Tuck Helmick, on a daring adventure with the goal to inspire the youth of Australia.  You can watch the film now on Amazon Prime Video.

Take Your Dream is the story of a father and his two sons who risked everything they had to inspire the youth of Australia by swimming 2,400 km down the nation’s longest river – the River Murray – in an effort to bring awareness to depression and suicide. The story is told through the eyes of the youngest son, 17-year-old Tuck whose plans to be a wealthy-professional contract killer are thwarted when his father insists he join the endurance stage swim as river captain.

Discouraged with the change in his life plans, Tuck finds himself in an old 1950’s diner. There, an adorable-nosy waitress pries into his life as he unravels the story down under.

The eldest son, Hunter, and his father, Eric, clearly are not marathon swimmers and have little experience with an event of this magnitude. But their firefighter and swift water rescue experience give them an edge of crazy as they challenge one another’s courage and step out into the impossible.

The team was comprised of only 6 full-time members. Unable to gain any significant sponsors or media attention for the event, each team member gave all they had financially, mentally and physically to attempt a world record. They called themselves Team Help.

In a daring and dramatic adventure, Team Help journeyed over 120 days through cold waters, the world’s most dangerous venomous snakes, snags, flood waters and scorching heat to become the first Americans to successfully swim the full length of the river. Over 300 hours of breathtaking, cinematic footage was logged during their journey.

Simultaneously, the team met with hundreds of school aged youth along their travels inspiring and spreading hope of dreams and a future. Team Help overcame logistics, lack of funds, and sponsors who backed out of the project due to the high risk involved in attempting something of this magnitude. “No one will make your dreams come true. Life is not a fairytale. If you want it, you have to take it,” said father Eric.

Team Help members Tuck Helmick, Eric Helmick and Hunter Helmick with Cydney Simpson, set out on November 5th 2016, photo taken at Bringenbrong Bridge, Corryong, NSW

Father Eric commented on the film, “Story, story, story – we drive it into our soul so we don’t deviate from a good one when we see it. I’ve been writing screenplays for 30 years and it’s all about story. On the making of Take Your Dream, incredibly dramatic days and unseen moments of adventure unfolded right before our eyes. I was frantic trying to get my head out of what I knew about writing good story and get my heart into what was occurring right before my eyes. ‘I didn’t write that,’ I would say. ‘But damn, I wish I had.

My first experience as a director was in high school. Some friends and I borrowed the school’s broadcast camera and headed out to a nearby lake in Colorado to shoot a war scene for a film I had scripted. At the end of the day we wanted to see what we had shot, but didn’t have any equipment to preview the tape. We drove to a nearby mall where there was an electronics and television store, walked in and handed the salesman the tape and asked if he could play it for us. He put the tape into a machine and turned our film onto what was to be the first big screen box televisions. I was hooked – just look what we had done with a few smoke bombs, ketchup and gear purchased from a local army surplus store. I was a filmmaker…and in big trouble. During one of the shots the camera panned across the sky and directly into the sunlight, which apparently wasn’t real good for those types of lenses back then. It left a shadow like crack on the lens.

I barely graduated from high school because I found it difficult to be in a classroom. Most of my time was spent in the movie theaters without my parent’s knowledge. Movies were cheap back in those days and I loved to sit for hours and hours and watch them. Give me a story with hope or redemption and you’ll have my attention.”

The 1 hour 38 minute documentary film is available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.

Question: How far is 2400 km?

Eric Helmick: It is the distance between Los Angeles, California, to Minneapolis, Minnesota or Madrid, Spain to Bucharest, Romania or Nairobi, Kenya to Congo. It’s a long way to swim.

Question: How many hours did you swim each day?”

Eric Helmick: 6 – 10 hours each day were spent in the water swimming with breaks every 20 minutes for protein snacks.

Question: What did you eat?”

Eric Helmick: The swimmers ate small bite size protein snacks which were specially prepared with calorie intake in mind. They also drank protein
shakes, Gatorade and water. Over the course of the entire swim they had a total of 2,300 recorded breaks.

Question: When did you sleep?

Eric Helmick: Each night the shore crew would set up camp along the river. They would meet the swimmers at a designated point and drive them to
the campsite for dinner and a very early bedtime.

Question: What were the hazards?

Eric Helmick: Firstly, there were no crocodiles or alligators in the river. However, Australia is known for some of the deadliest creatures in the world including snakes. Brown snakes, red belly and tiger snakes frequented the river with the swimmers. The closest encounter was 12 inches from the swimmer’s face. The snake stared at us and we stared at it before it slithered towards shore. We peed our wetsuits.

Question: What was the hardest part?

Eric Helmick: Let’s just say, swimming was the easy part. For the majority of the swim, we were a team of only 6 persons and the logistics were a
daily nightmare. Moving the team, setting up camp, repairing our broken down boat, car and bus was a daily rigourous chore.

Question: How fast was the river current?

Eric Helmick: When we left the Snowy Mountains, the river was flowing at about 8 km an hour. However, once we encountered lakes and locks, the flow slowed to almost nothing. People would say, ‘At least you’re swimming downstream with a current.’ They had no idea the amount of work we were putting in. Current or not, we swam all day long every day.

Question: How fast did you swim?

Eric Helmick: Both Hunter and I swim 3 km per hour. Not fast, but we’re very synchronized and consistent. So in a 6-hour day, we could cover 18 km with no current. Our longest day was 8.5 hours and we covered 30 km. Our stroke rate varied from 58 – 63 strokes per minute.

Question: Why Australia, why the River Murray?

Eric Helmick: Our team was already in Australia performing a Las Vegas style magic show. Everyone has a unique talent. Hunter is an illusionist, Tuck is a knife thrower, me a theater nerd. We put all our talents together and hired a crew of 6 other dancers and acrobats and toured the country putting on our show free of charge in small communities. The goal was to simply inspire youth. One day while cooling off in the river we thought to ourselves, ‘If we really want to inspire youth and turn the tide of depression and suicide, we should do something epic…’ Doing something epic inspires people. Inspiration brings hope. Hope brings transformation. Our goal was to inspire youth to do anything they set their hearts to.

Hunter as escort boat pilot with Eric swimming

Question: What’s next? Another river?

Eric Helmick: Not another river. We love to swim, but we are not endurance swimmers. Well, I guess we are now. As father and sons, we have started several production companies and currently have 3 films slated for the next few years. Not documentaries, these are full feature films that we’re working on together. Really fun stuff. You won’t want to miss them. That said, on a recent trip to Oregon, we did notice that the Columbia River was also 2,400 km (or 1500 miles) in length and had only been swum once before in history. Hmmm…

Question: Who paid for the swim?

Eric Helmick: Of the 100 companies and celebrities contacted, the team was unable to raise any support for suicide awareness. Eric and Terry Helmick sold everything they owned to fund the swim and the making of the documentary.

For more information on the film, visit here for U.S. readers. Visit here for UK readers.


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Steven Munatones