The Genesis of the Film Below 40 South:
a message from the director.
This film started with sharing. Sharing coffee to be exact. I like strong coffee and a particular blend so I always take my coffee with me when I travel. Traveling to Sail Oklahoma in 2013 was no exception.
I was giving a talk about traditional sails at Sail Oklahoma. I had debated about going but several friends were going to be there, like the Australian boat designer Michael Storer and Chuck Leinweber of Duckworks Magazine. That was enough to decide to make the trip and Sail Oklahoma was also providing lodging.
I was told I was sharing a house with Howard Rice and few other guys so that sounded pleasant enough, sort of like a college dorm without everyone being drunk, hopefully. As it turned out it was far more civilized and pleasant than college.
The first morning, as I made my coffee, Howard appeared in the kitchen. I could see that he wanted a cup of coffee but was too polite to ask so I offered to share. With a sigh of relief he accepted. We introduced ourselves and started to talk over coffee.
At some point Howard mentioned that he was planning a voyage to Greenland and my comment was “that would make a hell of a film”. After more coffee and more conversations we reached an agreement about doing a film about the voyage.
The boat, SCAMP #2, was moved to Walloon Lake, Michigan that summer. I began to move forward with the film giving it the working title “Project Greenland.” I spent that summer in Walloon Lake filming as Howard modified SCAMP #2 for the rigors of that kind of voyage.
As construction moved forward disturbing news started to appear. The Arctic ice pack was shrinking, disturbing news in itself, but it was forcing polar bears ashore and this had a very direct impact on the voyage.
With a predator the size of a Polar Bear Howard becomes the Blue Plate Special. Also, Polar Bears are swimmers, really good swimmers, so there would be no safe haven, nothing to keep Howard from being lunch or dinner. To keep that from happening a change of direction was needed.
That change of direction was south, as far South as one can get in this hemisphere, Tierra del Fuego. This would also be a return visit after 25years. As a film maker I found this far more exciting than “Project Greenland.”
So “Project Greenland” morphed into “Below 40 South”. However, getting me and a bunch of camera gear to the tip of South America was more complicated and expensive than driving my truck and gear to Goose Bay, Canada.
But no adventure is without complications or the need for change. And with that change, I was now going to do a film about an adventure and small boat voyage in the most hostile sailing environment in the world.
Also, in doing the film and working closely with Howard I was getting to participate in an adventure that I couldn’t or wouldn’t do myself. Even at the top of my game I couldn’t have set out on an adventure of this scale. Actually, there are very few of us who could accomplish a voyage like this. But I can be part of the team and therefore share in this kind of voyage and adventure. When Sir Edmond Hillary’s hand planted the flag at the top of Everest there were a large number of hands on top of his. Individuals on the mountain and off that helped get him to that spot. They were all part of that moment and this film allows me to be part of and share this incredible journey. Which, of course, brings me full circle back to sharing and how “Below 40 South” began.
It all started with a simple act of sharing. This film is about sharing and participating in an adventure to one of the most remote places on our shrinking planet.
All of us can participate directly by contributing to the funding of the film and we all are sharing in this small boat adventure.