Ben gets the shot as Cherie emerges victoriously from the surf in Oxnard

Something kind of exciting happened this summer, filming for a marathon swimming movie got underway in the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel. Independent filmmakers Ben Pitterle and Brian Hall decided to put together a film that shows the public what marathon swim world is all about by following 3 different swimmers as they took on channel swims from California’s Channel Islands. The three swimmers were Fiona who was angling to be the youngest female to complete a Channel Island swim, Cherie who is a working mom squeezing marathon swim training into an already busy life, and Evan who is a marathon swimming veteran with an eye on a record. As luck would have it Cherie and Evan are both good friends of mine and I was along for both swims as a crew person giving me a cool behind the scenes view of how the movie was made.

Brian filming as the sun rises on Evan's record breaking Santa Cruz Island swim

Brian was aboard the Tuna Thumper for Cherie’s Anacapa swim and the Fuji III for Evan’s Santa Cruz Island swim. He was a really mellow dude,¬†knowledgeable about the ocean and the channel, and good at getting the shot without getting in the way of the boat crew. I’ve been on a boat with a film crew before and know it can be far less pleasant than that so I’m stoked he was such a cool guy. He shot a lot of above water swimmer footage but he also captured the action on the boat. I’m moderately nervous as to what kind of goofy shit came out of my mouth on the boat… I’m also pretty sure that in the course of Evan’s Santa Cruz swim I may have single handedly moved the prospective MPAA rating up a few notches with some salty diction every time Evan got too close to the propeller end of the Fuji III.

Ben filming from a kayak as Cherie nears land

Ben would show up to the swims on a separate boat and make frogman incursions into the action from a kayak that would paddle him in and out of the swim. Every once and a while I’d see him 20 feet below me as I pace swam. On Cherie’s swim he was out on a Santa Barbara Channelkeeper boat… right before Evan’s swim that boat had mechanical problems and he had to jam out to Santa Cruz Island from Santa Barbara on a sailboat at the last minute! Ben is also a really cool mellow guy with a deep appreciation for the ocean and the channel. Although he was based on other boats we did get to talk to him a little bit on Cherie’s swim when he came aboard the Tuna Thumper to check in with Brian. At one point while chatting with him Cherie picked her head up and announced the arrival of a big fever of rays swimming beneath her. While looking at Cherie I saw a splash in my peripheral vision… Ben dove right off the boat! Dude is serious about getting his shots!

Ben and Brian have invested enormous amounts of time into this project already filming 3 channel swim attempts along with numerous interviews, but the reality of the situation is that it takes money to get a movie finished. They currently have an indiegogo campaign running in an attempt to raise $20,000 to help get this movie made. If you have the means and are an open water swimming fan consider pitching some dough at the project. Depending on the size of your contribution you could be up for things like a DVD, private in home screenings, associate producer credits, or most interestingly a super rad boat excursion with open water legend David Yudovin.

To donate go to

To see more of what you’re supporting take a minute to check out the trailer for the movie that was debuted in early November at the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association’s annual banquet.

Driven Trailer from Element 8 Productions on Vimeo.

This is your chance to make me an independent movie mega star… don’t mess this up people :p

How I'm not worthy of TMZ stalking I have no idea haha... photo by Lynn K.

*full bloggerly disclosure – I have no financial interests in the film but I am a member of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association’s board of directors which totally wouldn’t mind the free publicity the film would bring :)

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