Gather ’round, skating fans. After the awards season buzz of “I, Tonya” and the release of Netflix’s “Kiss and Cry,” a new skating movie is about to be on your radar.
Maddison Bullock, who founded the UCLA Intercollegiate Figure Skating Team before she graduated, wrote, produced, co-directed and acted in “Ice – The Movie.”
Bullock began skating as a toddler and fell in love with television while at UCLA. She even auditioned for Nancy Kerrigan’s role in “I, Tonya,” but it didn’t work out. Undeterred, she carved her own path.
“My senior year at UCLA I had this idea, like what if I make a skating movie?” Bullock told NBCOlympics.com. “It’s a world I know and a world I love. At that point there had only ever been four or five skating movies ever made. Most people can just count them on their hand. And most people have issue with the authenticity of those movies.”
The film centers around two skaters who took up the sport at the same time with the same coach. The balance of their friendship and rivalry is tested as they grapple with the real possibility that only one of them might make it to the Olympic stage.
“The ending is very satisfying,” Bullock said. “It strikes at the heart of, ‘Why do we do this? Who’s making us do this? Why do we get this obsessive drive to have to win? What does it mean?’ And even when you do win, it can feel really hollow if you don’t have people around you to celebrate the victory with. That’s a universal theme that I hope people who don’t even know anything about figure skating can connect with that piece of the film.”
Other skating and sports movies inspire Bullock as well, who referred to 2004’s “Miracle” as her favorite movie ever. Through a few lucky coincidences, Patrick O’Brien Demsey, who played Mike Eruzione, is in the film, too, as Bullock’s character’s father.
The skating community stepped up, Bullock said. Filming took place far and wide, including Nebraska and Colorado, where Bullock started her skating career.
“People were donating ice time and dresses and costumes,” she said. “It was just crazy. We got so many good deals because the community was backing it. When it’s a niche film you have that advantage.”
Longtime skating fans will spot 1984 Olympic pairs’ silver medalist and figure skating television analyst Peter Carruthers in the film. He plays – what else? – a commentator.
“I remembered listening to him commentate when I was a skater watching older, better skaters on TV,” Bullock recalled. “When I told my mom that he volunteered to do the film, she was like, ‘I remember you saying that one day he’ll be talking about your skating as a kid!’ This just shows how weird life is. He’s not talking about my skating but he’s talking about my characters skating in the movie.”
“Ice – The Movie” premieres on February 20 at a screening in Los Angeles. It will be available on Amazon on March 11 on DVD and for digital download. Fans can follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and tumblr at @icethemovie.