Written by: Alexandra Shubin

Photographed by: Marshall Lally

On July 23, 2015 “Between Two Harbors, ” will premier at Lido Live, in Newport Beach, California. Film screening is open to the public and will be immediately followed by an outdoor reception and fundraiser to benefit We Are Ocean.  To RSVP, please visit the official Facebook page. $20 suggested donation at the door to benefit We Are Ocean. This is a 21+ event.

Richard Yelland is the founder and director of the expectantly inspirational and powerful documentary: Between Two Harbors. The film itself follows a group of individuals, who have cancer but more importantly, all who are adventurers and believe in the remedial power of our Earth. Although they are at different stages within their healing, together they explore the restorative power of the natural world around them. The documentary engages with these strong inspiration survivors over the time span of a week on Catalina Island. It is between the two harbors in the Pacific Ocean that they emotionally and physically recharge by creating a relationship with the ocean. Below Yelland gives us a glimpse into filming ‘Between two Harbors, ’ what the project is about and some of the challenges he faced within the project.

7S7A3673 Q: Where did the inspiration for ‘We Are Ocean” stem from?

Richard Yelland: Jack Shimko founded Paddle2Live after he healed himself in the ocean by long distance paddling. His epic paddles through the Channel Islands—150 mile and 300 mile missions—raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cancer cause. He founded We Are Ocean to share ocean adventure with others with cancer—to give them an opportunity to experience the healing he had.

Q: How did that manifest into Between Two Harbors?

RY: No matter where people are at in their experience with cancer, they are between their old life and a new one. The ocean is the healing place in between those two lives. The film set out to capture this individual experience as well as showcase a collective healing process. The first step was to document inaugural Camp We Are Ocean, which brought 21 people with cancer—those in treatment, survivors, and some as advanced as stage four—to Catalina Island for five days of immersive ocean activity: snorkeling/diving, stand up paddling, sailing, kayaking and surfing. We knew that this was going to be a transformational and life changing experience and wanted to capture that on film.  When magical things happen in front of the camera, which they did, that’s a good documentary.

Q: What do you feel is the connection between the ocean itself and one’s body?

RY: The body is made of 2/3 water. We need to be in it to feel whole. We spent the key months of our human development in the womb. A surfer friend of mine said it best just the other day. It’s not that we get in the ocean; we coexist with it.  


Q: Once the documentary is out, what can audiences expect to gain from viewing it?

RY: People will be moved and uplifted watching peoples live change before them. It will change the way people view those with cancer, not as those who are sick, but as exceptional and inspirational survivors. Those with cancer everywhere will feel hope where there was none. Those with cancer will have tools on how to change their lives. The science of what makes the ocean heal will be revealed.

Q:  Directing a documentary has such an intriguing dynamic. How would you describe the relationships you build with the people who aren’t actors but rather representing their very personal and real lives?

RY: These are the most intimate and powerful stories— when you are dealing with sickness or tragedy (as I have in my previous film Floating: The Nathan Gocke Story), there is an incredible amount of trust you must build up with your subject matter. And often you need to do it in a very short amount of time. So you must give them 100% confidence on the spot that you are empowering them and showing them at their best. It’s amazing when people expose to the world what they might have previously thought of as too private for their friends and loved ones. You as the director have to show them how it’s the right thing to be opening up  this way to the camera.

Q: What are the challenges that come along with that same dynamic?

RY: You have to get the subject matter to trust you with their most intimate stories. Otherwise you will not get the movie you set out to get. You also have to be 100% honest up front about your intentions. People in these most personal moments have an innate sense of a person’s honesty. I am 100% truthful in my intentions with my subjects up front—before we even turn the camera on. They sense this and open up for me as we progress through the interview process.

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Q: As far as the actual film goes, talk to me about how it took its shape. Did you have to change direction multiple times or did it sort of organically weave together?

RY: This film is a work in process. We captured the experience these twenty-one people had at the camp. Now we will focus on three or four individuals and follow them as they progress into their lives after the We Are Ocean experience. Some of the stories include a fitness instructor who was partially paralyzed by chemotherapy. Now she is back at work, stand up paddling and doing yoga for the first time in over a year. Another camper, who is in stage four, has been responding well to a breakthrough new cancer treatment. His tumors have shrunk by 40% and he appears to have a whole new life in front of him.

Q: Why is this project important, not only to you personally, but for those who are thinking of donating or participating?

RY: Any time you have an opportunity to change the world for the better, for those living in it, it’s something you absolutely can’t pass up.  If we make this film together, we will make the world better together.  But there will be no film without everyone’s belief in this vision and their pledges to realize it.

Q: Tell me about the biggest challenge you were faced with during the creative process?

RY: Getting everyone to agree to interview with me was the most challenging thing. But they all did. Moving forward the biggest challenge is to find the most compelling storylines and make sure the right things happen in front of the camera to make this a highly emotional, inspiring and revealing film.

Q:. Anything else you would like to add?

RY: We’d like to distribute the film to the largest audience possible. Right now, we are looking to broadcast the film to 30 million homes on Outside TV and reach global audiences through iTunes.



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