Ten Things I Have Learned About the Sea


Italian filmmaker Lorenzo Fonda hitched a ride on a cargo ship from Los Angeles to Shanghai and almost didn’t bring a camera. Luckily for us, he grabbed a simple HD handicam before boarding and documented his 17-day voyage. Fonda notes, “If you don’t have patience or don’t know me personally, you might not want to watch this,” so consider yourself warned. I think it’s a beautiful opportunity for some vicarious escapism.

If you're having a stressful day, put on headphones, set this video to full screen, and fade away ...

The Atlantic: Why did you decide to cross the Pacific on a cargo ship?

Lorenzo Fonda: The excuse was that I needed to do research for a film set on a cargo ship, but the real reason was that I needed some time by myself in order to clear my mind.

Were you planning to make a film? What kind of camera did you bring?

No, I didn't plan it, but when I got back home I went through all the footage I shot, and realized I could maybe make something out of it.  At the time a friend of mine had introduced me to Hammock, and it just came natural to me to use their music as the soundtrack. Camera was a small mono-sensor consumer HD thing, nothing fancy but it did its job.

The video really draws the viewer in to this meditative, transcendent place. Was this what it felt like to be on the ship for 17 days?

Well, of course filmmaking is about heightening experiences and making them bolder and larger than life, so I wouldn't say I was in a trance like that for seventeen days… life at sea can be both very exciting but also very bland. Lucky for me, I have a very intense imaginative life (I know, it can also be a big curse), so I always found things to think about while staring at the sea. A kind of trip like this definitely gives you a lot of opportunities to explore the most remote depths of your mind, so I guess the video tries to reflect that state of mind.

Would you recommend the experience?

Completely. I suggest to first-timers to go alone, but I realized not everyone can live for so long with themselves without going completely crazy... but yeah, it was definitely one of the top three experiences of my life. Just make sure you bring lots of books with you. Some booze helps too.

Where would you like to travel next?

To space. I'm serious. I want to go to space and look at the earth from far away. And maybe make a film about that too.

For more videos by Lorenzo Fonda, see http://www.cerberoleso.it/.

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg's work in media spans documentary television, advertising, and print. As a producer in the Viewer Created Content division of Al Gore's Current TV, she acquired and produced short documentaries by independent filmmakers around the world. Post-Current, she worked as a producer and strategist at Urgent Content, developing consumer-created and branded nonfiction campaigns for clients including Cisco, Ford, and GOOD Magazine. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University, where she was co-creator and editor in chief of H BOMB Magazine.

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