Earlier this month we shared the first of several “production diaries” from People of the Salish Sea, one of the projects Washington Filmworks (WF) committed funding assistance to as part of our Innovation Cycle of the Filmworks Innovation Lab. The Lab is a groundbreaking program offering funding assistance to Washington filmmakers and filmmakers using emerging technologies.
People of the Salish Sea is a production from Longhouse Media and is the first documentary-based project to receive funding assistance through any of WF’s programs. These production diaries offer a window into the filming of the feature documentary Clearwater. This documentary is the central piece of People of the Salish Sea, a larger interactive project. Clearwater tells the story of the health of the Salish Sea (Puget Sound) and the unique relationship of tribal people to the water.
Continue on the journey with Clearwater through the entry below, written by Melissa Woodrow. You can also follow their progress through the Clearwater Facebook Page.
We’ve made it! We are here at Quinault, once again shacked up near wifi and electricity. What’s awesome is the hosting tribe provided a tech tent, wired up for charging dozens of devices and wifi access all along the protocol sites. To say the least, it’s been quite the journey. Relocating camps almost every day, carrying gear across beaches and up hills, running to get just the right shot and finding places for our Media Manager Jacob Bearchum to set up mini tech stations to review footage. We’ve been very fortunate to have the Squaxin Island crew support us too. The ground crew includes Joni and Melanie Seymour, two very amazing women that are responsible for not only setting up and breaking down camp, but also transportation and meals. If it wasn’t for them, we would be lost and probably very hungry.
The opportunity to be in a canoe and pull on the rough ocean waters was something I never expected. The last day I was in the canoe was one of the most intense. Strong waves and winds were picking up and we were told, after a near 16 miles already, that we had to change landings. That new landing would mean another 15 miles ahead of us. Because we were such a new canoe crew (we were there to make films), our skipper decided we needed to land on the beach where many other canoes were trying. The waves were crashing in and I had no idea what would happen. Next thing I heard was we had one minute between waves to pull as hard as we could. I remember pulling so hard there were times I was just paddling in mid air, no water under me. We pulled hard and didn’t tip over. A huge wave crashed behind us and flooded the canoe, but it was just in time to hop out and start walking it onto the beach.
Nearly all of our film crew had the opportunity to be in the canoe. We joined the No Ked Jak Canoe Family and pulled with them from many destinations. This was quite the honor and blessing. I’ve always lived near the ocean, it’s been a quick drive from any place I’ve called home. But, I’ve never had the opportunity to pull in a cedar canoe. Being from California, I was unfamiliar with many of the traditions from the Northwest tribes. I’d listen to Joe Seymour, skipper for No Ked Jak, talk to us about the customs needed when a new song is sung or explaining the cleansing purpose of bear root. Learning that each canoe embodies a female spirit, they are named after women. I’ve been so grateful for this experience. I’ve been a part of a small, yet incredibly hard working film crew. We pull together and shoot some amazing footage.
Seeing and experiencing the connection many have with these waters is humbling. It’s a strong reminder of how much I’ve yet to learn. Having never been on a feature documentary production before, I can clearly see how difficult they can be. Both our directors, Tracy Rector and Lou Karsen spent many hours pulling in the canoes in order to support the Canoe Family that allowed us into their daily lives. I can only speak from my experience, but I could see how participating would provide a much deeper insight to this film. What’s also been an interesting test is reminding ourselves that the Canoe Journey is only a portion of this film. It’s so easy to want to capture everything around the journey, but we still have to reorganize and reflect on what is needed for the overall idea. It will be its own evolving path, figuring out the picture and story for this film. This has been one of the best experiences and I cannot wait to continue this adventure.