Big River Man – Martin Strel portrayed by B5
Have you watched a film Big River Man? You have to! It’s amazing film. Martin Strel is famous in Slovenia for a long time. He holds successive Guinness World Records for swimming the Danube river, the Mississippi River, the Yangtze River, and the Amazon River. But In Slovenia everybody (that I know of) were making jokes about his character. My impression was that Martin Strel is a person who constantly brags about his achievements and in the same time negate achievements of top athletes like Peter Mankoč (Mankoč is most known for being the only swimmer with 9 consecutive gold medals in one discipline of European Championship short course events). And that’s what I thought I’ll see in the movie Big River Man directed by John Maringouin, but I was so wrong… OK, in the first third part of the film you laugh your guts out, since Martin is in many ways surpassing Borat, but then he starts to swim in the Amazon river… Jure Aleksič wrote in today’s issue of Mladina weekly that Big River Man is a film as you would merge Borat and Apocalypse Now and he is so right! Anyway I’m not a film critic…
When I was commissioned by Mladina weekly to do his portrait I wanted to do something like in the movie when Martin is holding a camera near his face and then falls into the Amazon river backwards. As you can see in the podcast I’ve tried and it looks good, but Martin would need to release the shutter in the right time, while keeping eyes open, while water splashing,… I estimated it would be hard to catch a perfect moment, so I decided to make a different frame. In Big River Man movie, Martin is repeatedly saying he’s in forth dimension while swimming the Amazon and that it’s beautiful. I thought to make a portrait of the face that would be reflecting from the water surface and did all the tests. Light is coming from a flash that was synchronized with Profoto radio Air-Sync. And I can tell you it’s right name, since they do not work under water. They work only 10 cm under water. I used Ewa Marine underwater housing. Do I need to mention that pictures were made with Nikon D3s and Nikon D300s? With assistant Tjaša (grazie mille) we were waiting for more then an hour and in the mean time I figured all out how I want to make a portrait. I hope you’ll enjoy the picture and the film Big River Man.
Just one more last note. I got an idea. Since I’ll move to Dolenjske Toplice in few months and I’ll start to swim everyday… I was thinking…. to redo his first swim from 1992 and swim down the river Krka (105km). Then I was thinking that there must be more recreational swimmers like me and we could swim all together. I suggest to Martin that he and his son Borut in few years could make an international competition of ultra marathon swimming down the Krka river. It would be great event for sure. No, I’m not going to become a second Martin Strel, but I do understand what his swimming is all about.