I’ve had a great relationship with the American Sailing Association for a long time. First, as a sailing club owner, whose sailing school taught their curriculum, introducing countless numbers of people to the sport. Then, as an internet marketing consultant, where we propelled them from relative obscurity into the limelight. Now, for more than a year, I have been a contract photographer for them, supplying images to use in their social media outreach.
A few years ago, the ASA contracted with the owner of the Arabella sailing yacht to offer experiences in New England and the BVI. I jumped at the chance to get a single berth on her in the summer of 2015 to relive my childhood sailing memories. Arabella was to sail the cruising grounds my grandfather and I did through the New England islands many times in my youth. I got hooked badly by this girl, Arabella. As luck would have it, the ASA needed an onboard liaison for two of their trips in the winter of 2016 to that other place I can’t ever get enough of; the British Virgin Islands.
By then the die had been cast. I wanted to make a film about the beautiful schooner who had a former life, first as the personal yacht of Kelly McGillis, the actress. Then, for many years, based in Newport, RI as part of the Sailing Excursions charter fleet, there. Her current owner, the Manhattan Yacht Club, used her as a club house during summers, on the docks in New York City. In winters she would go south for member destination sailing experiences in the BVI for many years until she lost her spot on the city docks. The club then began basing her in Newport in the summer and the BVI in the winter, offering by-the-berth sailing vacations. The ASA booked the entire mega yacht to offer to its membership for two weeks in the summer and two weeks in the winter. All in all, I got to ride on her for a month; two weeks in New England over the course of two summers and two weeks in the BVI during the winter. Pinch me!
As always, I learned a lot of things about shooting video on these outings. Above all, organization is paramount in a filming environment that consists of shoots over a long period of time. As well, a film that consists of more than a minute or two requires a lot of cataloging work. I did not know much about any of that when I set out. I’ve been creating short promotional type films for nearly 20 years but none of that prepared me for this project. The lessons I learned then and along the way this time, will serve me well, forever!
Finally, the sailing part was over last summer. So, I set out to build the story from, literally, hundreds and hundreds of clips. It took me, what seemed like months just to get the clips cataloged. I realized early on that I had done, what is known as, overshoot the project. I had 50 times the amount of clips than I could use. The worst part being very little of the footage was bad! When it was over and the clips were cataloged into various activity files there was the bitter knowledge that while I had overshot much… I had also missed some important aspects of life on Arabella that I would never be able to fill. Being a personal project I experienced the paralyzing effects of self-doubt. “If I didn’t have clip “b” to string together clip “a” and clip “c” what was I to do? I did what many of us do; I walked away from the entire project feeling frustrated. While I could accept the fact that it was a learning experience, I am not one to give up very easy.
So, last winter, I pulled out the project and decided to see if I could put together any sort of continuity and “story” from all the footage I had. Night after night, I would drop clips into my editing program and try to make sense of it all. Slowly, it started to come together. It was not the direction I had initially intended when I set out to do the project, but it had a nice feeling to it. The story was quickly becoming more about the crew and sailing this three-masted schooner and less about the guests or the history of the yacht, etc.
Then, I pulled a numbskull move and lost 70% of the work including an ending minute or two that Ive never been able to quite piece back together like I did the first time. This setback provided more fuel for procrastination and self-doubt. I could just chalk it up to experience and walk away from the project. But I had invested so much time already. I did not allow myself to work on other personal video projects until I could come to a conclusion with this one. That has come to fruition over the course of the early summer of 2017. It helped to have a hot spell that kept me inside, LOL.
I hope you enjoy my film, I’ve titled, “A Day on Arabella.”