Synchro skating on 14 big festival screens!


Angela (the film director) traveled a lot to capture footage and interviews. (Credits: "Life in Synchro" - 2020)

The brand new documentary "Life in Synchro" premiered at the Ocean City Film Festival in Ocean City, Maryland (USA) last month. Interview with Nicole Davis, producer and founder of the synchro website "Get it Called".

"Break the ice. Shatter a ceiling. Change the world. Synchronized skaters do it all - together." 

The feature-length documentary "Life in Synchro" has been released in early 2020 in the United States. The film, that tells a human story, introduces synchro to a larger audience.

Nicole’s passion for the sport of synchronized skating and Angela’s sharp eye for a uniquely, artistic human story collided in February of 2017 at a synchro exhibition in Northern Virginia. Angela was looking for subjects to film to expand her portfolio, and Nicole was trying to spread the word about a sport she was so passionate about. 

The film should have been shown in Lake Placid a few days ago. Jura Synchro had the chance to watch it exclusively to make you discover it.

Nicole Davies (left) is the film producer and the founder and CEO of Get It Called. Angela Pinaglia (right) is a Baltimore-based filmmaker who has produced and worked on various fiction and documentary films. 

First of all, why did you decide to make this film?

Nicole Davis: I was lucky to find my passion at age nine, when I joined my first synchro team. Back then, I also spent countless hours watching all the behind-the-scenes and extra features I could get my hands on for my favorite movies, craving to be on a film set and one day produce a film about my passion, synchro.

Fast forward through years of communications classes, film courses, skating, training, competing, and eventually coaching, to the 2016 presidential election. I was one year out of grad school, working as a communications manager at a non-profit and a coach for a local synchro team, and the question of women’s equality surfaced with a newfound urgency.

I felt a new sense of responsibility as a coach of young female athletes to teach them confidence, leadership, and the endless possibilities to achieve success that are possible when surrounded and supported by a community of strong women.

This film is important to me, now more than ever, to showcase this sport–and the power it has to transform women and girls into strong athletes and influential leaders–to the world.

When and where was this documentary filmed?

In April 2017, with that ‘essence’ in mind, we launched our first Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the film. After some initial filming and interviews, we put together a trailer, and successfully raked in $10,993 from 133 backers.

Between 2017 and 2019, Angela traveled to Portland, Oregon; Lake Placid, New York; Frederick, Maryland; as well as Virginia, Connecticut, Maine, and all over Michigan, including multiple trips to Ann Arbor and Dearborn.

Synchronized skating is visually interesting and dynamic. At times, Angela filmed with the camera on the sidelines, silently observing. Other times, the skaters themselves had the camera to capture the immediacy and speed as well as the sport’s potential for danger. 

In 2018, Angela was selected as a fellow for Docs in Progress, a non-profit organization based in Maryland. This opportunity gave the documentary production momentum, and in January of 2019 Docs in Progress hosted a rough-cut screening of the documentary for a local audience. The feedback from the rough-cut screening helped drive the documentary through the final stages of filming and editing.

In April 2019 we launched our second Indiegogo campaign to raise additional funds for post-production. We were able to secure $8,960 from 110 backers. The remainder of 2019 was spent on editing and fine tuning. We completed the final cut of the film, the sound mixing, and color correction in early 2020. The film premiered at the Ocean City Film Festival in Ocean City, Maryland on March 5th, and won Best of Fest at the DC Independent Film Festival the following weekend. In total, the documentary has been accepted to 14 film festivals around the United States. 

The documentary follows the story of several synchro skaters of all ages, like Emily skating with the Senior team Crystallettes. (Credits: "Life in Synchro" - 2020)

You are the executive producer of this documentary and also the founder of "Get It Called". Can you explain how you discovered synchro?

I started skating when I was 2 years old and my Dad built an ice rink in our backyard with a tarp and a hose! I started synchro when I was nine skating for the Colonials out of Acton, Massachusetts. I skated on juvenile, intermediate, and junior, ending my time on the Colonials in 2007 as a member of Team USA with a trip to the Junior World Challenge Cup in Nottingham, England.

I went to college in Washington, DC at American University and although I had decided to give up competitive synchro, I stayed involved with the sport through coaching an open collegiate team and founding Get It Called. When I was about to graduate, I realized that all I wanted to do was skate. I didn’t feel like I was “done.” I still had more I wanted to accomplish.

So, I moved to Michigan to skate for the Dearborn Crystallettes where I was fortunate to be a member of the 2012 World Team and represent Team USA in Gothenburg, Sweden. I moved back to Washington, DC thinking I had “retired” from synchro, but almost immediately started skating for DC EDGE adult, and coaching for the Capitol Steps. Eventually, DC EDGE and Capitol Steps merged, so I was coaching and skating for DC EDGE. I’ve coached preliminary, pre-juvenile, open juvenile, and intermediate teams, and I currently do mental training with DC EDGE juvenile, novice, intermediate, and junior.

Wasn’t it hard sometimes to talk about your passion?

One of the hard parts about creating the documentary was finding the balance between too much information and too little. Synchro can be very complex, especially to people who have never been exposed to the sport before. We have a lot of different levels, teams, countries, competitions, and the rules (scoring) can be hard to understand and explain. There’s also complex history and many notable figures.

The way we handled finding the right balance for the film was through “rough cut” screenings. We would have a friend or an audience watch a scene, or the whole film, and give us feedback on what was confusing or what they didn’t understand. Hopefully we struck the right balance--including enough information that the film is informative, but not too much information that viewers get bogged down in details they don’t need to know to understand and appreciate the story.

Peggy MacDonald was an original member of the 1956 Hockettes Synchronized Skating Team and went on to coach the Fraserettes to win the very first National Championship in 1984. (Credits: "Life in Synchro" - 2020)

In this film, we meet a lot of different people involved in synchro. Which is the one who particularly touched you?

All of the people in the film have a special meaning to me. I actually wrote an article last year about how all the film participants really touched my life. If I had to choose one storyline in particular, I would say John and Heidi and all the DownEasters (an Adult Synchronized Skating Team) really brought joy and a special spark.

I am guilty of getting wrapped up in the competitive aspect of the sport too often and that storyline is a great reminder that winning nationals or qualifying for worlds isn’t what’s important. It’s about the teamwork and the relationships we all build. This storyline was a good reminder of why I love this sport.

The film should have had a special screening at the 2020 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in Lake Placid. How can synchro fans in the United States, but also elsewhere in the world, watch this film? 

Most film festivals have restrictions and guidelines, so we are not able to stream or distribute the film until after film festival season is over. Because of COVID-19 we aren’t sure what the timeline will look like. Eventually, we plan to host a screening in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and eventually we plan to release information on how people can host their own local screenings. There’s also the possibility that the film will get picked up by a distributor and be available online or on TV, but we don’t know yet. We will keep you updated.

Thank you so much Nicole Davis, "Life in Synchro" producer and also founder of Get It Called! 

Thanks for all you do to cover synchro news around the world! Sending good vibes out to all to stay safe, healthy, and strong!