How Ridgeline Entertainment Creates Drama About Open Water Swimming

Doug Stanley of Ridgeline Entertainment will create and produce a 24/7 view of Ben Lecomte’s solo stage swim from Tokyo to San Francisco utilizing the latest in tools, equipment and online social media.

But at the start and end of the day, good entertainment is about excellent storytelling.

There are good reasons why Diana Nyad and Lewis Pugh are such speakers of note. They are outstanding storytellers. They hook you with heartwarming emotions and unique insights. They lay out their challenge in human terms; they eloquently present the obstacles they face in eloquent language delivered in deliberate tones, often mixing in a bit of humor.

Stanley describes the challenge of presenting the story of The Longest Swim by Lecomte. “To fully understand the expedition and our technical platform [with SmackDab], one must first understand the story that we are to tell. Our story is not simply a story of a man swimming across the Pacific Ocean, but that story used as a continuous thread.

The amount of uncertainty we will face in this project, no matter how much planning goes into [swimming across the Pacific] is significant. With uncertainty, comes fear.”

The award-winning filmmaker ties the enormity of what Lecomte is attempting to the viewer’s everyday lives. “This project will demonstrate that even though we may encounter obstacles in our lives, if we push forward, we will persevere.”

Stanley also understands the teamwork required of a solo swim – and how it relates to dramatic visual storytelling of his chosen medium. “This project shall also encompass the human spirit at its best, demonstrating that when we help each other and focus on a common goal, we are able to get through anything. This allows the telling of a multitude of inspirational stories that relate to the future of America and our society demonstrating through action what is necessary to achieve our shared goals.”

He plans to bring the story to the viewers in a powerful way. “We view The Longest Swim as a chance to hone in the true inspirational human spirit that lies with each and every one of us. This broadcast [on SmackDab] is a one-of-a-kind broadcast that will capture international attention through an extreme event never before seen in broadcast.”

The Longest Swim will be 6 months in length where Lecomte and his 8-person escort team will encounter issues, obstacles and challenges that are incomprehensible to endurance athletes on land: waves the size of buildings, marine life encounters thousands of miles away from land, 8 hours of swimming per day for half a year.

The story that Stanley will share with the world is about Lecomte’s 5,500-mile swim and the relationships and responsibilities of his small support team on the world’s largest ocean. He will swim next to the tender boat where a core team of 8 will be required to be entirely focused on Lecomte for the equivalent of a fast channel swim for 6 straight months. Day in and day out without an ability to stand on land or go home, the team members are also on an endurance event of their lives.

The core team of 8 on the tender includes Lecomte’s personal assistant, boat captain and first mate, a cook, 2 cameramen, a producer and technical director. A 167-foot trawler and mother ship will also be stationed nearby. In addition to the captain and crew, the rest of the production team and shark specialists and a nurse will be onboard. On the mother ship Aquila, there will be a full tele-presence system that will enable 24/7 full-bandwidth communications with the outside world.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones