A Case for Optimism

In the fall of 2017, I confronted one of my greatest fears.


After over four years of working, planning, and dreaming of the eventual release of my documentary, “The Water is My Sky,” I had to ask the question: are we ever going to be able to finish this film?


It was a question whose weight nearly crushed me. It carried with it not only my personal investment in the project and that of my filmmaking partner, but also the investment of dollars provided by contributors to the project, as well as the time and energy supplied by all of the amazing crew I had assembled throughout our production journey.


After operating on a total budget nearly one quarter of a comparable documentary, I finally faced a harsh reality: we needed more funding, otherwise the project would continue to stall. Though we had spent hours forming the film into a rough cut as well as came up with our marketing and distribution plans for the finished film, there was simply no more work that we could do until we had more dollars behind us.


After spending several months networking and approaching investors, my list of prospects had slowly come to a close. The film appeared to be on its way to many more months of continuous holding patterns, waiting for that one life-changing call, email or text.


Yet, those notifications never came.


And it was in this dark place that I somehow found hope. In this dark place, I remembered what had been so encouraging to us from the very beginning, and that was the support of the international swimming community. In my time as a swimmer and as a coach, I had come to know hundreds of people all bonded together by the sport of swimming, all enthusiastic about our film and willing to help.


I slowly reminded myself that without the belief and encouragement from swimming fans from around the globe, this project surely would never have gotten off of the ground.


Given the fact we had already called upon the swimming community for support in the past, I was hesitant and fearful of a second online campaign. I didn’t know if those who had supported in the past would feel deceived by the first campaign.


In a case of serendipity, I came across Seed&Spark, a platform designed by filmmakers, for filmmakers.


As it turned out, Seed&Spark was running a contest with the title Case for Optimism, attracting any and all films that inspire positivity. The films who entered would have the opportunity to raise funds as well as build their audience, and those that were most successful would have the opportunity to pitch to the contest sponsors for additional funding and support.


What better possible contest could I have found for our film?!


The response has been overwhelming. To date, we have raised just shy of 125% of our funding goal and amassed over 1,200 “followers,” by far the most of any film in the contest.




We are very excited by the momentum we are feeling right now and cannot wait to get back to working on finishing the film.


I believe that the world needs a film like ours at this exact moment. After a year of countless negative sports scandals, we need to be reminded of all of the positive aspects of sports. We need to reinforce the values that swimming teaches its young athletes, from hard work to personal responsibility and perspective.


We are so thankful to have found Seed&Spark, to have attracted hundreds of new fans, and to be taking this new wave of positivity into the remainder of 2018!