Ice Network

Filmmaker Lund brings 'Serpentine' to big screen

Political thriller centered around world of figure skating to debut in March
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Denise Marco and Isabella Ramirez in an on-ice scene from Mark Lund's 'Serpentine: The Short Program.' -courtesy of Mark Lund

Captivated by a film he watched about espionage, Mark Lund was inspired to write a screenplay that wove a story of international intrigue. After attending the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships in Boston, Lund was struck with the perfect backdrop.

"Whenever we attended a world championship, there were always people around that may or may not have anything to do with figure skating, but they seem to be around a lot. You wonder what goes on behind the scenes of these closed doors to which we didn't have access," said Lund, who traveled to numerous competitions while publisher of International Figure Skating magazine from 1993-2004.

"Serpentine brings you into that world of what may or may not actually exist," Lund noted.

Serpentine: The Short Program is Lund's fourth film. Along with his other previous works -- which include First World, a science fiction short film; Justice Is Mind, a crime drama set in the future; and the 12-minute short, Justice Is Mind: Evidence, which he made to generate interest in the full-length feature that followed -- it was shot in Massachusetts. 

He has taken the opening of his script to Serpentine and created a 12-and-a-half-minute film that gives people a glimpse at the story of a skater who has a complex background.

To play the film's central character, Lund cast real-life skater Isabella Ramirez.

"I honestly loved doing the movie. It was a lot of fun to work with all these amazing people," Ramirez said. "It was really different the way we did the programs as opposed to a practice.

"They used a lot of different angles for different parts of the program," she continued. "They showed me some of the video, and it looked really cool."

Serpentine: The Short Program debuts at the Strand Theatre in Clinton, Massachusetts, on March 6. Following the premiere, it will be available on icenetwork and Amazon.

Lund chose the film's title for its double meaning.

"I wanted a name that exists in the sport of figure skating, (one that) is relatively well known but has not ever been in a film," Lund said. "It's also a word that is used in areas of cryptology. Serpentine is mentioned as something that is part of what they call a paradigm shift."

Some of the film's characters are amalgams of people Lund met during his years covering the sport. For the role of the coach of the main character, he cast his own first skating coach, Denise Marco.

"I'm not an actress, so I was a bit terrified about learning and saying my lines, but I'm glad I did it," said Marco, executive director and director of figure skating at North Star Figure Skating Club in Westborough, Massachusetts, where the skating sequences were filmed.

"I watch movies differently now. I understand the different angles."

For two other key roles, Lund chose two of the principals from the feature Justice Is Mind, Paul Lussier and Kim Gordon. Gordon said before filming she read articles on icenetwork and studied skating videos on YouTube to get a more complete picture of the sport.

"I'm excited to work with Mark again," Gordon said. "I've always loved watching ice skating on television. My eyes just cannot see what the eyes of the commentators can see…but I can see the beauty of it. I love the artistry of matching movement to music. I love the passion that some of the best skaters bring, the fluidity and the gracefulness."

As Serpentine: The Short Program depicts, Ramirez' character, Suzanne Wilson, needs to figure out how to overcome her stage fright to earn a trip to the world championships in Moscow. Within her choreography are details that will play a significant role in the feature that Lund hopes to have made before next year's Olympic Winter Games.

Lund said, "There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered. The short film gives the audience a good flavor of the story -- from on ice to off ice -- and what I call the palace intrigue."