WATERMAN is a film about legacy.
Over Thanksgiving dinner about four years ago, my grandpa confessed a deep concern of his. His warning were specific to the menhaden fish, a species crucial to the Chesapeake Bay eco-system. At the time, I had never heard of menhaden. My life in New York felt far from the Chesapeake Bay and my fond memories crabbing with grandpa. As a kid, he was always telling us stories and performing his many songs about the life of a waterman. These songs were reserved for my family and usually did not occur further than my grandparent's front porch carport on Kent Island, Maryland.
After the holiday, I returned to New York to find my grandpa had mailed me a 10-page letter front and back (in perfect cursive writing), including diagrams of the bay, the menhaden and song lyrics. In this letter he outlined his concerns about the overfishing in the Chesapeake Bay and soon after he let me know that he would decide to perform his music live for the first time at the unexpected age of 88 - a last attempt to advocate on behalf of the home we love so dearly.
A few months later I was back in Maryland with a film crew ready to start production. As an older waterman, starting out on the bay in 1947, Harry has witnessed many things and his testimony and his concerns are expressed through his lyrics. WATERMAN is a tribute to his legacy and the voices of those who love the Chesapeake Bay and also hope that one day it will be restored.
I hope this film can get the word out about the menhaden and continue a journey to restore the Chesapeake. Please see below where the film will screen before being released online.
- Jess Jacklin (Director)