One of the hardest things for me when I left Chile this summer was knowing that I would no longer have access to the ocean. This was saddening for a variety of reasons, one of which being that it provided beautiful footage for me to capture for films. Where I live is significantly more boring and therefore quite a bit harder to film, so I was in a rut.  

     I took an Ichthyology course (the study of fish), and due to our location, the focus was primarily freshwater fishes, especially in the lab portion. I came into the class with a passion for marine fish and not so much for freshwater ones, but within a few weeks, something changed.

     We went out into the field to search for fish on several occasions and it was the highlight of my semester. I absolutely adored it. We would sample the streams and rivers looking for what fish species were in the system, and I discovered that there was so much more life in those waters than I had ever imagined. I surprised myself by my own fascination, saying that the fish were beautiful. To me, they truly were.

    I knew I had to make another film and relay what I was seeing to others. I decided to create a film that captured these waters for their true beauty and showed the beauty that lies just beneath the surface. I was limited in what I could shoot since I was so jam-packed with my heavy course load and my thesis, and I was not able to travel far enough to some of the locations that I wanted to film, but I was determined to work with what I had to make a film on par with my Chile film. I decided to go with rivers, since they are so prominent in Tennessee, and I filmed at the Harpeth River (Relient K fans may recognize this place as the location on their most recent album cover), the Stones River, the Duck River, and the Tennessee Aquarium (one of my favorite places). I had to select the music, and only one person came to mind: Brian Bradley.

     Brian Bradley is a phenomenal artist from Minnesota. Born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in Minnesota, Brian has a unique view of the world that is translated into his work. Brian photographs the world with breathtaking landscape photographs (among other photographic forms) and also creates vivid, expressive music (his most recent album, Mars Mission 1, follows the journey from Earth to Mars in 17 tracks that relay the story). Brian graciously provided the music for my first film, and consequently he had a track entitled "Rivers," so it was a perfect match. "Rivers" is a fast-paced, sweeping track from his album North, an instrumental album inspired by the Minnesota landscape, and it provided the perfect audio backdrop and added a level of depth to my film that would not have been achieved without it.

This is how I see rivers. This is how he hears them. Perhaps we will make you, too, aware of their beauty.


SEA - Adam Young Scores Short Film Contest

     One of the highlights of the year for me was the Adam Young Scores project. At the beginning of each month, Adam Young, the mastermind behind "Owl City," released a conceptual film score based on a historical event. Being both a fan of his music and a major history buff, this was basically the dream. I lavished the scores each month, dazzled by their lush production and storylines.

     While I was in Chile performing my research this summer, Miracle in the Andes was released on the first night of my last experimental run. For those of you who are unfamilar with my Chile adventure, my research involved 24-hour behavioral analyses where once an hour for 24 hours I had to observe the behavior of my snails, and most ran for up to 72-hours at regular but less frequent intervals after the first 24 hours. You can check out the full story if you like here, but basically I was exhausted quite a bit of the time. However, the release of that score could not have come at a more perfect time, and it kept me awake and alive all night. What was far more exciting, however, was that the event took place rather close to where I was located, and of all of the times that he could have released a score involving Chile, it was while I was there. Laying on a wooden bench in the frigid dark under a set of stars different from my own, the ever-present sound of the bubbling air and running water in the lab gurgling away, I spent my very short breaks between observations enraptured in a world that was closer than most people listening to the score would ever be to the actual location. I saw the Andes just a few days after the score came out, and I was beside myself. I was captivated by the fascinating story of survival, and it helped to push me onward with my lack of sleep (5 hours total over a 72 hour period). If they could make it in much worse of a situation, I could certainly survive this, and I did.

     While I was in Chile, I worked on my very first film project. I had wanted to get into filmmaking for ages, I just never had the time nor the place to do it. Chile served as an excellent teacher and model, and whenever I had a rare chance to slip away from my work during those seven weeks, I explored the nearby beaches and photographed and filmed. Upon my return, I created and released my first film, "Oceano," on YouTube. As much footage as I used in it, there was so much that would go unseen since I did not have room for it. They sat in the catacombs of my computer files, never to see the light of day.

Or so I thought.

    I was studying for an Ichthyology (the study of fish) lab exam when I heard about the Adam Young Short Film Contest. I about exploded with glee, forgetting all the dead fish in the jars that I had been eyeing for a few hours. I would have the opportunity to marry two things that were very near and dear to me into one project. Unfortunately, I was slammed with my thesis and courses, so I wouldn't be able to begin until after finals, so I patiently but anxiously waited to put my film together.

    Thankfully I finished my semester off strong and finally got to work on my film. This film means so much to me, both because of the footage and the music. The shots from the film are the product of many weeks of work in the sparse moments where I could take a break from my research long enough to go out. I stood in a lot of uncomfortable positions, got my feet wet on multiple occasions, and braved those beautiful beaches even when reaching them was difficult due to strong waves and high tides. I am so proud of these shots and they are my attempt to bring the beauty I lived to others. The scores have also been very close to me, having carried me through lots of study (both my research and coursework), scary and joyful times, and of course thoughtful drives to and from college.

     My film includes two tracks from The Spirit of St. Louis score. When I first heard "Over Water," I cried. It was one of the most beautiful pieces I had ever heard, and it truly captured that feeling of the ocean. When I first arrived in Chile, somewhat shaken due to complication with my transportation, I went out one evening to explore after I had finished my work. The world was cast in a purple glow as the sea swelled and the mist swirled around me. I pulled out my phone, played "Over Water," and stood in complete awe. That was one of my most cherished moments in Chile. The next song, "Stars Appear," and the flow between the two is just so lovely that I simply couldn't break them apart. They help to tell the story of the sea, engaging in her various sides and exposing much of her personality.

     This film means so much to me and I hope that it perhaps strikes a chord with you, too. If you'd like to hear more about my Chile story, all blogs from June to August relay my adventures (and misadventures). Thank you for supporting this project, my heart and soul.