Will Seefried has created and starred in the series Sink Sank Sunk.
This is a three-part series that tells the story of Cooper – a young, introverted guy who suddenly has to deal with the loss of his mother, Mitzi (Laura Linney).
Cooper decides to complete a documentary that Mitzi had begun filming – showcasing her synchronised swimming team.
As he undertakes the project, Cooper’s filming leads him to re-evaluate his relationship with his mother as he also learns to navigate questions of community, empathy, and love.
I caught up with Will Seefried for a behind-the-scenes look at the series.
What was your inspiration for this story?
After seeing a close friend lose her mother very suddenly, then navigating a health scare with my own mother, I became fascinated with how we imitate and rebel against the forces that shape us. Though the show is far from autobiographical, it was sparked by the collision of that fascination with an itch to try my hand at writing and creating something.
Cooper, the character I play, is the most intensely personal. It’s been a struggle learning how to trust people and allow myself to be vulnerable. That is very much Cooper’s conflict, though the circumstances that put him on that path are very different than mine.
Funnily enough, Cooper’s journey of opening up to romance mirrored my experience making this show. It was through collaborating with my then-boyfriend – Hannes Otto – to create this thing that we discovered the magic of being a team. We got engaged shortly after shooting! Beyond Cooper, each character is a collage of influences and people who’ve moved me in some way.
What was the production process?
I wrote a full draft of the season over the course of a few months before bringing on William Roller – a frequent collaborator – to help expand the script. We went into pre-production without a dollar of funding, little experience in the medium, and some extremely ambitious ideas.
With the kind of stupid faith that is the hallmark of beginners, we approached people with experience far beyond our own. The process that followed can only be described as the domino effect of generosity. A grant from the Springfield Arts Council got us off the ground and then our community rallied to make this thing happen.
We filmed for ten days total, and it was a wild ride – to say the least!
What was the casting process?
There were never any auditions or anything, we just went to people who we trusted and who embodied the ethos of the project. I went to NYU for Acting, and Hannes went to Juilliard, so practically everyone we know is a performer of some kind.
Laura Linney came on board much later in the process. We always knew we wanted to approach her – she was already a friend and mentor of Hannes – but wanted to have all our ducks in a row before sending that email. Being around Laura is a masterclass in grace, humility, and generosity. She was a lovely addition to an already remarkable team.
Why synchronised swimming?
Synchronised swimming is a metaphor for being a part of something bigger than yourself. This is a nod to my mother and her legacy, and essential in this era of political insanity. Beyond that, synchro is undeniably delightful. That is a feeling we all can use more of – delight.
What do you hope that people feel when watching Sink Sank Sunk?
I hope that people feel delighted, moved, and happy to be human. Maybe even hopeful, in the weird way that simple pleasures can sometimes make you feel.