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Wind, Tide & Oar is a film project that explores the absorbed attention and artistry of engineless sailing, and the lives of those few exceptional seafarers prepared to go to sea whilst relying on the natural elements alone.
Working with seafarers, craftspeople, sailing charities, mental health experts and sail-trainees, the film raises questions about ecology, resilience and wellbeing; looking at how the gravity and grace of sailing engineless can speak to our interaction with, and responsibility, to the natural world.
Engineless sailing is defined as sailing without the backup of auxiliary mechanised power. This goes against the norm that dictates that almost every sailing boat today has an engine, manoeuvring the vessel in tight spaces, pushing against the tide, and allowing travel even when there is no wind.
Wind, Tide & Oar will pursue a poetic approach to the filmmaking process, developing an intimate response to those at sea, their lived environment and material reality. A vital part of this includes the use of a tangible medium. By using 16mm analogue film rather than digital video we aim to develop a unique conversation between the two practices’ characteristics, and reveal the necessity of working with the elements rather than against them.
We have already raised Arts Council funding to pay for our partners’ and participants’ time, and the cost of sailing – demonstrating our project is relevant, achievable and properly costed - but we need help in buying the extra film stock that will make this project truly special.
Any amount you donate will be spent on purchasing, processing and scanning 16mm film. To acknowledge this each reward of £10 or above will include 24 frames of real 16mm negative, signed and dated by the director.
Below we have included information about the team, our partners, the screening plan for the film, an explanation of 16mm film, and exactly how your money will be spent.
We want to thank everyone who donates, shares or reads about our project. All support is much appreciated!
Wahl's films use the form-giving, material qualities of moving image to explore the power of creative action and its transformative potential. Having premiered his latest 16mm film The Republics (2020) at CPH:DOX film festival in 2020, he was tipped as “one of the most promising young artists in the UK”.
Huw was introduced to sailing by Rose, his sister, on her boat, Defiance. Her eagerness for attempting everything without using her engine sparked many conversations about sailing, the skills and experience needed to become an engine-less seafarer, and what connections it has to filmmaking.
Rose's first experience of sailing was crossing the Atlantic ocean at age 19, having left Manchester where she grew up with a dream to travel. She spent 4 years on various ocean crossings and adventures, eventually reaching New Zealand, only to sail the passage back as professional crew on the classic superyacht schooner, Atlantic.
Since her return in 2017 she has worked on many different sailing vessels, as well as for a traditional rigging team on Cutty Sark and HMS Gannet. She owns her own 22ft boat called Defiance, which she is currently restoring, having taken out the engine. Rose is fascinated by the art of sailing engineless, its history and its future potential.
The Sea-Change Sailing Trust provide residential sailing opportunities for young people and vulnerable adults on their newly built Thames sailing barge Blue Mermaid, to facilitate learning and development in a unique environment. Blue Mermaid will be a key filming location and the charity will contribute to our screening schedule and help us build connections to the sailing community.
The Shipshape Network, provided by National Historic Ships UK, brings together all those with an interest in Britain's maritime heritage and ship preservation. They will support the project throughout each and every stages with advice, networking and promotion.
Cutty Sark & Royal Museums Greenwich are supporting the project by hosting a premiere, exhibition and workshops in collaboration with National Historic Ships UK.
Premiere at Cutty Sark
The film will premiere at the Cutty Sark, Royal Museums Greenwich, underneath the hull of the famous tea clipper. Alongside a Q&A with the Director and some of the participants of the film, the event will be a celebration of everyone and everything that has taken part in supporting the project.
The sail-powered screening voyage
Immediately following the premiere, engineless Thames sailing barge Blue Mermaid will set off on a 3-month sail-powered screening and sail-training voyage. Operated by Sea-Change Sailing Trust, Blue Mermaid plans to visit 10 ports on the South East coast where she will open her hatches to the local community for film screenings and associated events. Socially excluded young people and adult trainees from the areas visited will help to sail the barge between ports, learning important life and maritime skills along the way.
As well as submitting the film to important national and international film festivals, it will tour the UK by land and screen in a variety of different settings such as museums, galleries, cinemas, yacht clubs and the Shipshape Network.
16mm film is a type of analogue film that was first released in 1923. It is used in an analogue camera, developed and then digitally scanned in order to edit and finally watch it on our screens.
Huw Wahl is accomplished in the use of analogue film and has been shooting on 16mm and super 8 since 2015. To make Wind, Tide & Oar he will primarily use a 16mm Bolex camera that is spring wound by hand. The use of analogue film demands patience, knowledge of conservation, and an acute awareness of timing. We are interested in how the fluid practice of analogue filmmaking aligns with that of traditional seafaring.
Although 16mm film is expensive, by using mechanical cameras we are encouraging less disposable camera upgrades, and helping to keep the people who service and repair old camera in business (another craft that needs saving!). Because we shoot less, we need less digital storage. And lastly, in our opinion there is simply nothing as charismatic as movies shot on real film. Not only do they look and feel different, but they are made differently too.
Each 100ft reel of film, including developing and scanning, costs £100. Our goal of raising £10,000 will buy 4 hours’ worth of stock. This is the same shooting to editing ratio that Huw used to make his last 16mm feature film The Republics.
Of course, films consist of much more than the materials they are made of and we have received an Arts Council England grant which pays for the time of the sailors and the running costs of their vessels when we are filming - something we believe is incredibly important.
You can rest assured that our project has been thoroughly costed and planned. Our overall budget includes money for post-production such as editing, sound design, and colour correction, as well as submissions to film festivals and promotional costs.
Signed copy of Pilot Cutters Under Sail by Tom Cunliffe
Yarmouth Oilskin Vouchers (https://yarmouthoilskins.com/)
Handmade Nautical Keyring
Limited edition signed film print