Behind The Scenes

The actors in our films are actual U.S. Figure Skating members who were discovered in a nationwide search. Learn more about their lives and their experience shooting these films.

TJ Nyman

Age: 16
Skating Experience: 12 years
Hometown: Melbourne, FL

Can you describe the character that you play?

TJ: Ben is a guy trying to achieve his dreams, and he works really hard on the ice each day to become a champion. Off the ice, he is a regular kid with good and bad days, just working hard toward his goal.

What does “Get UpSM” mean to you?

TJ: To keep going and fighting to achieve your dreams no matter how difficult it becomes.

Do you remember when and where you were when you first fell in love with skating?

TJ: It was when I won my very first competition. Right after that I thought, well I’m pretty good at this. I fell in love with it and just strive to get better and better.

Do you have a ritual that you do before you compete?

TJ: Basically all I do is I have fun. I don’t take it that seriously. I don’t ‘get in the moment.’ I don’t ‘get in the zone.’ I just warm up. Be normal. I take it seriously, but I don’t let the stress of competition take over. It’s more of having fun just going out there and doing the best that I can do.

You have to come out there with something fun that the audience interacts with. I really love doing that.

TJ Nyman

What do your non-skating friends think of your figure skating?

TJ: They really support it. They think it’s different. They think it’s cool.

One of your friends is a hockey player. Is there tension between you two?

TJ: No, not at all. We’re very supportive of each other. We go out and skate together sometimes, work on power skating and stuff. My dad, who was a professional hockey player for Sweden, coaches him sometimes and we kind of do group lessons and stuff.

So there’s a respect there?

TJ: Oh yeah. Much respect.

What’s the coolest thing about what you do?

TJ: Traveling. I travel to a lot of different places, and it’s really cool. Just meeting a bunch of new people, making a bunch of new friends. It’s so cool, the people that are in it. They’re really nice people. I’m grateful for that.

What words would you use to describe your skating style?

TJ: Definitely crazy and fun and elegant at the same time. I love having fun when I skate. I love entertaining the audience. I love working the crowd. I want to really get them going and not leave them bored. Because a lot of times when you watch figure skating, it’s like, ‘oh, another slow piece of piano music.’ You have to change the game. You have to come out there with something fun that the audience interacts with. I really love doing that.

TJ takes intermediate gold at 2015 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships

TJ, age 4, at his first competition at the Space Coast Iceplex

If you could change anything about figure skating, what would it be?

TJ: I wish it were a bigger sport in America, you know? I wish people would respect it as much as Americans respect their football.

Is there a skater you admire?

TJ: Yeah, my friend Max Aaron, who is a national champion and a world competitor. He’s really good. I look up to him. He’s one of my buddies. He’s manly. He’s tough. He boxes. He works out a lot. People don’t see that side of it. They just look at the skating and go, ‘oh, he’s skating in a tight uniform.’ Figure skating is known as a girl’s sport because mostly girls do it. But they don’t understand that the sport is also very mentally tough and physically tough too, for both male and female athletes.

Career Accomplishments:

*2015 U.S. intermediate champion
*2014 U.S. juvenile champion

Cailey Weaver

Age: 17
Skating Experience: 14 years
Hometown: St. Pete Beach, FL

Can you describe the character that you play?

Cailey: Emily represents figure skaters going through that stage in their careers where falling is a very common theme. Despite falling often, she gets back up every time and pushes forward until she manages to succeed. At school, Emily finds ways to brave the social structure and stand up for what is right. Emily is used to falling and getting back up, and thus knows how it feels when it seems like success is impossible. Throughout her training, she has become a level of tough that transfers over to the “real world.” Standing up for other people who are being beaten down (like Rose), is her way of showing that she is not afraid.

Can you relate to some of the situations in the film?

Cailey: For one, I can relate to falling. I’ve been skating for 16 years and have done my fair share of falling and getting back up. I can relate to the frustration that comes from hitting the ice over and over and also the ecstatic feeling that comes from landing a difficult jump for the first time. Throughout my life, I’ve witnessed bullying in many different forms and have never hesitated to intervene when I felt that someone was being mistreated.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have many wonderful mentors in the skating world, who not only taught me skills and technique, but morals and manners.”

Cailey Weaver

When I was coaching young skaters, one of the kids was at a lower level than the others and a more skilled skater started beating her down with words. She would put her down by telling her she wasn’t good enough and refusing to pair up with her for exercises because she wasn’t as good at skating. Halfway through the class I pulled the advanced girl aside and told her that we were all in a learning process and all at different stages in that process. How good you are at skating doesn’t dictate your right to be disrespectful to others. We’re all just trying to have fun. The advanced skater was upset, but the next week she came over and apologized to the younger girl and started helping her out during her free skating time. The girls are now best friends.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have many wonderful mentors in the skating world, who not only taught me skills and technique, but also morals and manners. I’m beyond grateful for these people. They’ve shown me that humanity does exist. That, combined with the physical struggles associated with figure skating, has shown me that facing the world isn’t all that scary if you face it for the right reasons.

Did any part of the filming or acting surprise you?

Cailey: I’ve never acted before. It was relatively easy to fall into character, yet at the same time it was difficult. Everyone I got to work with was really nice and many funny things were said on set. It felt so real.

Cailey at a 2016 freestyle competition

The hardest part about the role was the skating itself. There was a lot of falling involved. The falling part seemed easy at the time, however when I went back and tried to land my jumps after shooting the falls, it was very difficult. The shoot was emotionally straining at times.

We filmed for long hours and there was a lot of physical work. There was a point where I sort of cracked mentally. I got really frustrated with myself because there were a bunch of people standing there with monitors and a crane and I couldn’t land a jump I’ve been able to do for four years. I was embarrassed.

I got off the ice and went over to the other little rink next to where we were shooting. I skated in circles until the other cast members came in and gave me a big hug. They were so supportive. They talked to me and told me it was all going to be okay. ‘You only need to land one.’ In competition, the pressure is high because you’re expected to land every single jump. Here, I only needed to land one. Knowing this made it easier for me to go back out there and finish the job.

Cailey with friends from all over the world in a Miami competition

This experience is one I’ll never forget. I still keep in touch with all the other skaters and a few of the actors as well. I’m really grateful for the experience. It was amazing to see how this campaign came to life, and I feel honored to have been a part of it. I feel really connected to this campaign because I’ve seen so many people struggle through life due to bullying, pressure and physical boundaries. I hope that “Get UpSM” will inspire others not to give up on their dreams and aspirations. Life is a lesson, no matter who you are or where you’re from. I’ll cherish this experience for the rest of my life, and I know it will stick with me throughout my career.

Career Accomplishments:

*2016 South Atlantic Regional bronze
*2015 Florida Open SP silver
*2015 Florida State Games gold
*2015 Miami Open gold
*2015 Summer Chiller gold
*2015 Philadelphia International silver
*2015 Florida Fall Classic gold

Meet the Director

Rob C

Rob C is a self-taught London-based filmmaker whose subtle visual style infuses everything he shoots. His work is characterized by a strong photographic quality and guided by his graphic design roots.

Why did you choose to do this particular project?

Rob C: Both the challenge of shooting ice skating in a dramatic and beautiful way and my interest in storytelling drew me to this project. U.S. Figure Skating gave me a lot of room for my own creative input which I valued highly, and I am thankful to them for trusting me with this. I was able to put some of myself into this movie; it became almost a personal project for me, which is always a good thing as a director.

Can you relate to some of the situations in the film?

Rob C: I can 100% relate to all of the bullying scenes in the film. I was bullied throughout my school years on a number of occasions so these parts of the film really rang true to me.

What are some special things you have to do or take into account when shooting ice skaters?

Rob C: The speed at which they move definitely had to be taken into account. Before I actually met them, I had never seen professional figure skating other than on TV where it’s always shot very wide so you don’t get the same feel as you do when you are actually there. I wanted the camera to be up close and personal to the action and I also wanted the viewer to really feel it when they fell. This was something that I hadn’t planned for before I met them so we had to re-think how to shoot the action. Our original plan was for Khalid the director of photography to skate alongside them with the camera but after seeing their speed we opted to go with a super techno crane which enabled us to move at speed with the skaters.

“I can 100 percent relate to all of the bullying scenes in the film.
I was bullied throughout my school years on a number of occasions so these parts of the film really rang true to me.”

Robert C

What does “Get UpSM” mean to you?

Rob C: Being a director is quite a roller coaster of a career with continuous highs and lows. Therefore every opportunity to work on a film is a Get UpSM moment for me. As they say in the creative field, you are only as good as your last job, so everything you do has to be the best it can be even when you are feeling down and out.

What was the hardest part of creating this film?

Rob C: There wasn’t really a hard part to be honest. It all came together very organically. I had some amazing collaborators on this project who I am very thankful to for making it happen exactly as I saw it from day one.

Did any part of the filming or acting surprise you?

Rob C: Absolutely. I was so happy to discover that both TJ and Cailey were not only two of the best figure skaters for their age but that both were extremely comfortable acting in front of the camera. This was a huge bonus for the film as we were able to explore some deeper emotions that would not have otherwise been possible. The film really shines because of this.