Project Description

I spend most of my time as a writer behind something. Behind a notebook, behind a computer screen, sometimes behind a tall guy at a press conference when I’m just trying to see what’s going on. But this summer, I’ve been thinking about how to present my new work for our exhibition next month.

That exploration has taken me somewhere new: behind a video camera. I’m not a fluent filmmaker by any means, but I enjoy the opportunity to stretch my skills in a new medium. I decided to take Sea Level underwater, in a video installation that presents my narration of  a chapter.

I enlisted two close friends for this effort: Heather Comparetto, a photographer specializing in underwater surrealism, and her younger sister Tennley, who happens to be around the same age as my protagonist, Jona. I acquired an underwater video camera and Heather bought some new goggles, and into the water we all went. We chose Redington Beach for its convenience and also because of the condemned Long Pier that’s located there, battered from time and weather and waiting on a verdict as to its future. It helped set the scene for the chapter I narrated, where Jona and her family take one last trip to the beach before leaving their home in Florida.

I spent most of my time way behind the camera, directing Heather as she operated the camera. We filmed a few scenes with our “Jona” out of the water, contemplating the setting and looking at shells along the water line. Then we went underwater. We mixed Gulf scenes with a few in a swimming pool, as we weren’t sure if the sea water would be clear enough to use in the presentation. Here’s what it looks like when Heather, who’s used to shooting in pools, gets to work underwater:

There was a lot of trial and error in our filmmaking process. But a lot of it came down to luck, and going with the flow. When we started editing, I discovered a whole new set of challenges. Stay tuned for more about that process!