Beneath the Waves

Last spring I took an Environmental Issues and Documentary Arts class at Duke University with filmmaker Erin Espelie.  The class introduced me to Jacques Cousteau’s “The Silent World,” Chris Jordan’s Running the Numbers and works done by so many other talented artists, musicians and filmmakers.  I have always seen science as part of a bigger picture and this class (like so many of the others I have taken at the Nicholas School) offered me a chance to learn about more of that “bigger picture” and to learn about different ways to tell my story.

In the past few weeks I have shared the spinner dolphin story and my story with many. I have visited middle school classrooms to teach them about acoustics and to tell them the story of how I got to where I am today, capstone events to get middle school girls interested in the STEM fields, and talked with my colleagues and friends about the progress I have made with the acoustics analysis.  But this weekend, my story, and the story of the spinner dolphin, gets told on “the big screen.”

As part of the documentary arts class we were asked to do a project. It could be anything, a painting, a photo essay, or a film just to name a few. Since I had a trip to Hawai’i planned for March I thought I would try to get footage during my trip for a little film about the Hawaiian spinner dolphin.  I showed “Their Right to Rest,” a film about Hawaiian spinner dolphins, to Erin in an early form and she was really impressed. Me, not a filmmaker, impressing a real filmmaker! I showed it in classes, to my friends and family and was finally encouraged by Erin to submit the film to a film festival. So I did, thinking no way would my film get chosen. Well, this past week I learned that my film was chosen for the Beneath the Waves Film Festival and its first screening would be at the Benthic Ecology meeting in Savannah!

In fact, my film could be making its big-screen debut as I write this blog.  So thank you to Erin Espelie for giving me the chance to make my film and for encouraging me to submit it.


Check out the Duke Magazine story about the class and the projects that came from that class here