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MWF 2014 Second Look: Unsinkable: The Race To Recovery

Created by Lachlan McKinnon, Unsinkable: The Race To Recovery is a documentary web series following the journey of Australian rower John Linke, an as he attempts to overcome a career-threatening injury and achieve his sporting dreams.

Ahead of Melbourne WebFest 2014 we are profiling all the series in the Official Selection as well as the “Second Look” series.

As a friend and rowing teammate of Linke, McKinnon felt inspired to combine his passions for sport and his friend’s story with his passion for documentary film making.

Through the web series, McKinnon hopes people see parallels between John’s journey and their own lives. It aims to inspire them to overcome the hurdles that stand in the way of their own goals and dreams.

What do you want people to take away from your series?

The overarching message is that everyone will have setbacks in life but it’s the way we respond that will define us as human beings and determine our legacy.

How do you finance your series? 

We were lucky to have the support of our partners: Victorian Institute of Sport and BikeNow. Each organisation contributed to some of the production costs associated with the web series and promoted the series through their extensive networks. The financial assistance did not cover all of the work put in but we were passionate about seeing the series through to completion.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome in production?

The toughest challenge was condensing all of the captured footage and story lines into twelve short episodes (3-4 minutes each). The series covers approximately ten months of John’s life from the day of his last surgery (July 2013) to competing at the Australian selection trials to decide the World Championship team (April 2014). When we began filming we put together an episode breakdown  outlining what we thought might transpire in the subsequent months. We were fortunate that John’s actual recovery was close to what was anticipated but even so it made for some very nervous moments. John writes a web blog ( that runs parallel with the series and provides an in-depth chart of his progress and detailed personal insights.

How do you reach your audience?

John’s web blog ran for several months before the first episode of the web series was released so he managed to establish a healthy audience consisting of the international rowing community and general sports fans who had been following his progress. Once we began publishing the web series on YouTube (one episode every 2-3 weeks starting in October 2013) we utilised the pre-existing social media following of the VIS, BikeNow, Rowing Australia and World Rowing to share the episodes with a broader audience. As John’s recovery began garnering a bigger following he and the series were being promoted and discussed on Melbourne radio stations, metropolitan newspapers and online. The remarkable thing we learnt was that if the story is strong enough it essentially sells itself.

Is it an ongoing project? If so, can you give us some clues about what comes next? 

We have spoken about continuing to follow his journey heading towards the 2016 Rio Olympic Games but we’re yet to decide specifically how it’ll be documented. He will continue to write his web blog and we will film some of what takes place over the next few months and just see where it takes us. Stay tuned!

Trivia: please tell us a quirky and/or interesting fact about yourself or team that’s unrelated to your web series.

I used to play football for the Essendon Football Club (rookie list 2006-07) so I have been involved in elite sport for close to a decade. I turned to rowing five years ago after having several serious injuries and I am so thankful for where it’s taken me and what I’ve managed to achieve both on and off the water: I’ve competed internationally for Australia and made some lifelong friendships. You can choose to see hurdles in life as either an inconvenience or an opportunity to grow and learn as a person.

Why make a web series?

Web series are a great way for up and coming and established artists alike to produce content without the limitations of traditional media. It speaks to all demographics and fits in with the fast-paced Western lifestyle. They are perfect to watch either back-to-back in binge viewing or to enjoy in the short breaks we have between our daily tasks. Digital media as a medium is constantly growing and evolving so it’s a great time to get involved.


Unsinkable on the web:

Web blog:



Twitter: @Unsinkable_row


Keep up to date with Melbourne Web Fest on twitter: @MelbWebFest

La Trobe University is a festival sponsor of Melbourne WebFest. 


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