Salt was born out of a few different areas of inspiration in my life. First off, my love for the ocean has always led me to be fascinated by surfing. I love watching surfers dance on the water, and I jump at the opportunity to film surfers. Secondly, Bree Labiak had been entering my life from a few conversations with Travis Suit, founder of The Piper's Angels Foundation. "Bree is the first professional surfer with cystic fibrosis, and she's fifteen years old" he said. The Piper's Angels Foundation has been supporting her through her disease and with her
surf competitions around the country.
A day or two later, I received an email from Audience Awards announcing The She Directed Filmmaker Contest. It called for female filmmakers, directors, producers and composers to submit a 2 minute short film surrounding the story of any female. The excitement hit me immediately. Here was my opportunity to tell Bree's inspirational story.
Follow Bree's journey on her Instagram - @breelabiak
When I spoke with Bree and her Mom for the first time, they both had a very positive response to the project. They were completely on board from the very start, trusting my vision and concept down to every detail. All we needed was the perfect location to shoot the film for a few days. Since they were in South Carolina where the waves are hit or miss, we decided to hit New Smyrna Beach, in northern Florida, a popular surf spot.
When mid April arrived, I had everything prepared. I had the script written and approved by Bree, ready to be recorded. I had a printed shot list and schedule of everything I wanted to accomplish with her. I had never been so prepared for a shoot in my life! There was a lot of anticipation on what the weather and conditions would bring us, but we had to just trust that we would get what we needed. I drove up to New Symrna with my car filled, and over the course of four days, we had the perfect mixture of wind, big waves, beautiful sunrises, small and clean waves in the morning, a quick rain session and a nearly full moon every night. We accomplished everything I wanted and more. What an incredibly productive feeling.
Spending time with Bree and getting to know her was something I'll never forget. She is certainly a fierce and brave young lady. She's entering her late teens which already comes with an overwhelming amount of change on top of her life threatening disease and all of what comes with that. Her openness in her interview, her willingness to do what I was directing, and watching her fearlessness to get on those big waves made this project a total success. It was easy to tell her story because her personality translates so clearly on camera. I only had 2 minutes (and not a second more) to pack everything into this film, so there were a lot of shots and sound bites that did not make it into the film. I asked her a few open ended questions after we recorded the interview. I asked her, "What does the concept of death mean to you, as a young lady with a life shortening disease?"
She replied, "I do think of death, I don't know when I'm going to die. But if I make it to another 5 to 10 years I would be so grateful."
If you know me, you know I love editing. For most people, editing is their least favorite part of the production process. I really enjoy it, especially when you have beautiful content to put together. Watching it come to life as you are creating it is the reason why I love it so much. It is a magical process. Another reason why this was so special is that I asked my beautiful and talented cousin, Sydney Schizzano, to produce and compose the music for our film. Having a completely original piece of music for any project is incredible, but having an original piece from a member of my family was so meaningful! Thank you Sydney for your energy and time in creating such a beautiful piece to match the look and feel of the project.
At the completion of "Salt," the entire production team was made up of all females. Amazing!
Since creating this film, Bree has continued to crush her surf competitions and celebrated her 16th birthday. Even though we didn't win the contest, our film was viewed by 6 well known directors and producers (including actress Kate Bosworth)! We also received an insane amount of feedback from people around the country. Bree's story was shared 166 times on Facebook and was viewed nearly 10,000 times. We received countless comments and feedback from people who were inspired and educated by her story and my video. This was more than we could have hoped for! I hope that this short film lives on, that will become something that Bree will look back on years later.
We love you Bree!
t h a n k y o u
for stopping by,