Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Filmmaker Q&A: Jefferson Gray, "Tragedies in the Mist"

Plunge into the inland ocean of Lake Huron and explore some of the 200 shipwrecks of the justly named Thunder Bay. Timber-shivering storms, towering waves, lashing winds, and treacherous fog have all taken their toll. This film chronicles 12,000 years of navigation, from birch bark canoes to modern ROV-equipped vessels, and the marine sanctuary’s work to preserve those still at sea. "Tragedies in the Mist" will be showing in Program 7 on Saturday, February 6th, 2010.

What is your overall summary for the film?
The film is a historical documentary on the history of Great Lakes shipping as told through the exploration of shipwrecks in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary was created to preserve and protect the amazing collection of shipwrecks that span the entire time period that ships have sailed the Great Lakes. The film was created to take that story to the public.

What was your inspiration for creating the film?
My inspiration for creating the film was from the infectious enthusiasm for the wrecks and their stories that come from the archeologists, historians and educators that work at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

What was the most challenging part of creating the film?
The most challenging part was to condense over 200 years of maritime history into a 26-minute film.

What do you want to impart on your film’s viewers?
The sense of value that historic shipwrecks have for us in terms of understanding a significant chapter in our history as a Nation.

What was the most enjoyable part of creating the film?
Working with the staff at Thunder Bay and the people of Alpena, MI.

Who (or what) is your inspiration?
Pat Labadie and Jeff Gray.

How or why did you begin creating ocean-focused films?
I have been involved in ocean-focused films for over 30 years and the reason is because all of us have had a misconception that the oceans are infinite – so vast that we cannot hurt them. We have assumed that there was no limit to the resources and that anything in the sea was ours for the taking. As we all know now, none of that is true and we have to treat the oceans and all their resources, both historical and natural, as we treat our own bank accounts – with restraint, protection, and make a constant effort to maintain the resource.

Why did you choose to submit your film to the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival?
In order to share the incredible stories of these shipwrecks that rest in America’s “inland seas.”

Is this your first time participating in an ocean-focused film festival?

What was the most memorable moment in creating the film?
Recreating the scene of the drowning passengers on the night the steamer Pewabic sank.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?
Enjoy life because you never know when the ship you are sailing on is going down!

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