What it's about: The unusual life and adventures of Laura Dekker, the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone.
About the filmmaker: "Maidentrip" is my first film as a
director, but I have been addicted to storytelling in various forms
since I was old enough to speak and write (and sing, I used to make up a
lot of songs.) I always dreamed that my obsession with creating and
sharing stories would eventually translate to the screen.
Seafaring stories were a part of the ethos of my childhood. When my dad was in his late teens, he dropped out of school, built a boat and sailed to South America. All of my bedtime stories as a kid were stories of the sea, some my dad's and others of famous captains and explorers. In school, I devoured any book about seafaring adventure, but never came across one with a woman (let alone a young woman) protagonist at the helm.
That image alone struck me as so powerful and cinematic, of a young girl alone at sea. It also touched on my equally profound obsession with adolescent narratives. I grew up on movies like "Stand By Me," and "Big," and pretty much every movie John Hughes ever made. It's a period of life that's so deeply confusing and lonely and yet so full of hope and possibility and connection. It's such a beautiful, painful, awkward, perfect time to explore in cinema.
At Brown, I studied linguistic anthropology and dramatic writing, the combination of which inspired a strong interest in the intersection between narrative and non-fiction storytelling. That is what has drawn me to the verite documentary form--the constraints of taking these organic, authentic elements and using them to form a riveting story that people can connect with in the same way as a fictional film.
What else do you want audiences to know about your film? It’s a film made by young women about a young woman—but it's a movie for everyone. I think kids will like it too! And I’m proud of the way it came to life. It took a (very generous and creatively talented) village to raise this wild child of a film. The only reason "Maidentrip" exists is because so many people—collaborators, backers and supporters, many total strangers—took a chance on it, despite complete lack of evidence that it could actually come to fruition. That includes Laura more than anyone—her confidence in me to do this and the courage to share this awesome creative adventure in relentless pursuit of both our crazy dreams...on so many levels, this film would not exist without that.
What was your biggest challenge in developing this project? The biggest challenge in developing "Maidentrip" was earning Laura's trust and participation in the project. After a several unanswered inquiries, I spent months preparing a proposal that included a long personal letter about my interest in making the film, visual inspiration boards and digital posters designed by Leah Koransky. Laura responded positively to the proposal, and eventually invited me to meet her on the half-built boat where she was living with her dad in Holland at the time, months before she set sail on the voyage.
Laura knew I had never directed a film, so it took a lot of guts on her part to put the telling of her extraordinary story in my hands. I think the collaborative nature of the project appealed to Laura, whose words and identity had been twisted and sensationalized for almost a year in Dutch and worldwide media coverage. I wanted to make a film with her, rather than about her--to provide the tools and platform for her unique voice to be heard.
What would you like SXSW audiences to come away with after seeing your film? Laura is a complex, powerful, and inspiring character who comes of age onscreen. Although the most awe-inspiring things about her
Indiewire invited SXSW directors to tell us about their films,
including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're
doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on March 8 for the latest profiles.