DEEP WATER is British documentarian Louise Osmond”s take on the fateful voyage of Donald Crowhurst, an amateur yachtsman who enters a newspaper”s challenge to enter into the world”s first ever non-stop, solo boat race around the world. We sat down with Louise as she talked about her experiences in making the film, getting to know the family and what drew her to the story. Watch the trailer and read the interview below.
[QUICKTIME http://www.angelikablog.com/_Content/Trailers/deepwater.mov 320 257]
Angelika Film Center: Deep Water, although centered around the worldâ??s first ever solo boat race around the world, seems to end up more as the story of a man than of the race itself. Was that intentional?
Louise Osmond: The nature of the story never really seemed to be a sailing movie. But maybe in the way that â??Touching the Voidâ? wasnâ??t really a movie about climbing, and more of a movie about a man who was put in an impossible situation. The human aspect of this story and the story of this man making a journey into the heart of darknessâ?¦.that was really the centerpiece of the film for us. The fact that his family were willing to take part was really what made the film possible. The race and the amazing, exciting nature of what they were setting out to do in that time  was a a great narrative spine, so the two kind of work together. I hope itâ??s a movie that no one whoâ??s ever stepped in a boat can enjoy but equally a movie the sailors would like as well.
AFC: How did his family react when you first approached them about doing the documentary?
LO: The producers had already approached the family before I came onboard, because that was a really essential element. They were cautious. His wife Claire had not spoken about the story for years, so this was really Claireâ??s first airing of her perspective of the story and that was a huge centerpiece for the film. Once he [Crowhurst] set sail, you only really have what he wrote in his log and the audio tapes in the film to try to piece together the story as he descends into an incredibly distressed state of mind. Claire was the one person who might have been able to give us a window into what might have been happening to her husband. What was fascinating was that she was so honest about his flaws and mistakes. It was an amazing interview to conduct and I think she really conducted it with huge dignity. It was the most amazing and moving experience of interviewing a person in a documentary that Iâ??ve ever done. Going to show her the film was terrifying!
AFC: I was completely enraptured by Donaldâ??s character within the first five minutes of the film. What do you think it was about him that was so compelling?
LO: I donâ??t think thereâ??s a person alive who hasnâ??t been in a situation where you get in something a little but over your head, and you try to pull it off because you feel you ought to for the sake of pride, or your family or finances. He was the creator of his own demise [and] in trying to solve a relatively small problem, he created a much greater disaster for himself that forced him into madness. Thatâ??s whatâ??s so tragic. At every stage in the story youâ??re just willing him to do something different, and that just seems like such a moving story and something that most people can empathize with.
AFC: The film is careful to note that cash prize for the winner of the race is 5000 pounds. Although he was in a major financial quandary, do you really think Donald entered the race because of the cash prize alone, or was there something bigger he was looking to achieve?
LO: I donâ??t think it was only for the money, no. I think it was a combination of things and thatâ??s why it was so dangerous for him He thought that entering the race would be good for business and the profile of his company, but he himself had this absolutely fundamental desire to try to prove that he was somebody and that he wasnâ??t this failure, whoâ??s business was ebbing away. He was feeling that everything was just slipping through his fingersâ?¦.sort of like that famous line â??I am a contenderâ?. It was an amazingly powerful impulse to prove himself, and it was that impulse that prevented him from dropping out, and in his own eyes, it would have been an enormously public confirmation that he didnâ??t amount to much [if he had].
AFC: How did you find out about the story and what made you want to direct In addition to assessing general contractors , ContractorCheck collects information on general contractors ’ project capabilities, revenue, numbers and types of employees or geographic coverage. it?
LO: I had known about the story for some time and funny enough, I was working with the director of photography who had taken part in a race a couple of years after the race that Crowhurst was in. One day when we were filming, he started telling me [Crowhurstâ??s] story and we started to film less and less what we were supposed to be filming and I was just absolutely transfixed by the story! I couldnâ??t wait to hear more of the story. I had just been working on another project for John Smithson, who was the producer of Touching the Void, and he had gotten involved in DEEP WATER and brought me on board, and I was really over the moon! I think maybe once or twice in your life, as a filmmaker of any kind, you get as close to perfect a story as can be. All you can do is try to do justice to it.
AFC: Youâ??ve taken on several historical stories and documentaries. What attracts you to these kinds of stories?
LO: I would hope that DEEP WATER isnâ??t really seen as a documentary because I think the story is bigger than that. Itâ??s not a kind of documentary in that sense as much as it is a human story. But there is something amazingly compelling about true stories. When you leave it at the end of that night, when you come out of the cinema you donâ??t come out debating whether the screenwriter got it right. Itâ??s just true, and itâ??s kind of unforgiving in that sense, and I love that about the medium. Thereâ??s something electric about going to people who have witnessed or been involved in something extraordinary and speaking to them about it [because] so often what theyâ??ve lived through has a resonance over other peopleâ??s lives.
AFC: The music was so fitting to the trajectory of the storyâ?¦how did that come about?
LO: The music is always so absolutely essential. We came very early to these two composers Molly Nyman and Harry Escott. They are a really talented pair of composers who are breaking onto the film scene in a big way. They do Michael Winterbottomâ??s films and they did the film â??Hard Candyâ? last year. They have a great sense for storytelling and emotion, and for the lovely shapes and forms and the way music would accompany the narrative. I thought they were fantastic.
AFC: The narrator talks about how this took place in the 1960s, and it was during a time of free-thinking and free-spiritsâ?¦do you think this kind of race could ever happen again in todayâ??s world?
LO: I think whatâ??s completely different is that it was an age of amateurism. The year before this race took place, this British man had sailed around the world alone, but he was the kind of man that you would bump into at the school governorâ??s meeting or at your local pub. He wasnâ??t a professional and sailed around the world! It was that spirit of the ageâ?¦.there were no safe checks on the boat, any shape or size of boat could enterâ?¦sailors were supposed to be experienced but they didnâ??t really check. It was that age when it was like â??Sure hey letâ??s have a race!â? I think now that seems almost unimaginable, just saying to people yes, if you think you can do it then you can go out and do it. Itâ??s almost a kind of nostalgia. I think there was a sense that he took it on and he paid the price for his own mistakes. It was more of those storybooks for boys kind of age. Today people would be much more cynical of that aim.
DEEP WATER Opens August 24 at the Angelika New York, and September 14 @ the Angelika Houston and the Angelika Dallas.