+ otherwise pictures llc

Film/Video

Watermen

1968  |  16mm  |  color  |  sound  |  63 min
Holly Fisher & Romas V. Slezas
Filmed between 1966 - 68, Eastern Shore MD.
Fisher/Slezas Films Inc.
Holly Fisher & Romas V. Slezas
Romas V. Slezas
Performed by Captain Daniels and his wife, various watermen skippers and African American crew
Captain “Daddy Art” Daniels, members of Daniel extended family, crew of “City of Crisfield” 1968,last sailmaker, Wenona on Deals Island, Maryland. Other watermen and relatives from Wenona and Tilghman Island, Maryland.

Sound: Holly Fisher
Original Film Lab: DeLuxe Film Lab, NY, NY –  original A&B plus audio print elements were lost when DeLuxe went out of business.
Restored to Digital Video by Maryland Public TV, screened spring 2010 and 2011 by MPTV; screened at The Environmental Film Festival, March, 2011
(©2014)

It’s a classic!  You’ll never sell it!

– Richard Leacock, upon viewing the film at Leacock-Pennybaker Studio, 1968

Bronze Medal, Atlanta Film Festival (1968)


The National Geographic Society (1968)


The Environmental Film Festival, Washington, D.C. (2011)
Atlanta Film Festival, Atlanta, GA (1968)
Constitution Hall, Washington D.C. (World Premier, 1968, sponsored by The National Geographic Society)
Broadcast on Maryland Public TV (spring 2010, 2011)



In 1968 myself and co-director Romas V. Slezas filmed the annual Skipjack Race off the coast of Annapolis, Maryland, focused especially on local folk hero skipjack Captain “Daddy Art” Daniels, who won that day. Over the next three years we filmed Daniels, his family, his Afro-American crew, and his colleagues catching oysters, at home, singing & preaching in church, high school graduation, last sail maker (Wenona, MD), three generations featured (1967) on Maryland TV station, i.e. the passing of a way of life on the Chesapeake Bay. The film tells a simple story of the watermen who work the last sailing fleet of workboats in North America and it is perhaps also the story of Manifest Destiny as it is playing out in an isolated pocket of American culture.

Slezas and I worked as a cinema verité team. We filmed over three years, beginning in 1966, returning when we had funding to continue. The film has no outside narrator, and is carried by stories lived and/or told by the characters themselves. Fall 2009, I returned to Wenona to film Captain Daniels, now in his late 80’s, skipper one more Skipjack Race. By now Daniels had become a local legend, and was featured in multiple tv interviews plus a local Deals Island parade riding in a red convertible. Two of Daniels’ sons are still catching oysters in the traditional way, though his oldest son is also a local country western singer who broadcasts especially to other fishermen; his youngest son had become a well-respected and fiery preacher. Material from this filming expedition will become an extra feature once a new DVD is made from a restored version of Watermen.