Ben Finney interview: ‘The best things involve the biggest risks’
and then we swam

And Then We Swam tells the remarkable tale of two friends who decided to row the Indian Ocean without any experience or support and is set to be screened at the International Ocean Film Tour Volume 2 in the UK next month.

The 35 minute film follows rowing rookies Ben Stenning and James Adair as they take on the 3,500 mile trip from Australia to Mauritius and become World Record holders.

The two-hour long showcase programme features six of the best water sports and environmental films of the year, touring the UK from 15 to 22 May.

And Then We Swam director Ben Finney, who’s from Beverley in Yorkshire, explains more about the award-winning film.

Your website bio reads: “I’m a director of documentary films, about people and their relationship with the natural world.” What inspired you to get into this line of work?

“I studied geology at university but was always drawn to the human side of things: like how do people cope with earthquakes, or volcanoes in their backyard.  Then I went to Alaska, to study a volcano for my PhD – and on the side of this volcanic island, in the middle of nowhere, there was a cattle ranch.

“They employed one cowboy to live there all year round, looking after this herd of cows. The whole thing was just so weird, and he was so much at the beck and call of the elements, that I basically wanted to be him. Unfortunately I am not a cowboy – so instead I started looking for something I could do, which would put me in a similar situation as often as possible. Or, at least – so that I could meet people who had the balls to really live on the edge, whether through choice or necessity.”

What did you enjoy most about directing And Then We Swam?

“Can I have two things?! One was not having a boss. I usually make films for television, which means there are lots of extremely well-meaning people around you, and above you, making suggestions about what each film should be. With this film, there was just me, and a couple of friends and sometimes my wife.

“The other, less selfish thing, was the chance to tell a story about two people so in love with life, that they were prepared to risk everything, to make life even better… A good example to us all.”

and then we swam

What do you think the underlying message of the film is?

“That there’s a big old world out there, and if you go and spend some time there – particularly if you go alone, or nearly alone – then not only will you enjoy living like we were designed to live; but also that you might learn a lot about yourself. Also, the best things involve the biggest risks.”

You can see And Then We Swam at the International Ocean Film Tour Volume 2 when it comes to the UK in May – visiting Plymouth, London, Bristol, Glasgow and Edinburgh. For more details and tickets, visit

Images: James Adair

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