Sarah Moshman, award winning writer, director and creator of The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things is now directing a new documentary called Losing Sight of Shore.
Losing Sight of Shore tells the amazing and inspiring story of a group of women who row across the Pacific Ocean. Sarah answered my questions about the upcoming documentary.
[Note: This interview was first published in January 2016. In May of 2017, Losing Sight of Shore became available on Netflix worldwide.]
OAD: How did you connect with these British women and their adventure to become their filmmaker of record?
SM: I made a documentary called The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things in 2014 which was an incredible experience. With that I did a lot of press and interviews including one with Fiona Tatton, a blogger in the UK. Fiona emailed me in late January of 2015 and asked if I wanted to connect with these four women who were about to row the Pacific Ocean because she had recently interviewed them and thought their story was right up my alley. I Skype’d with Laura Penhaul and Natalia Cohen [two of the rowers] shortly after, and I was instantly inspired by their mission and their journey. I knew I had to help them tell their story.
We are capable of more than we will ever know, and the journey across the Pacific is a representation of what you can do with the power of the human spirit.We spent a lot of time getting to know each other and chatting via Skype for a few months. In April of 2015 I met them in person 4 days before they left San Francisco. I gave them cameras and taught them how to use the tools to be able to bring the audience in to this extraordinary journey.
I have then met them on land in Santa Barbara, Hawaii, Samoa, and soon Australia where I’ve picked up their footage and interviewed the women. What has resulted is truly amazing and I can’t wait to put it all together for Losing Sight of Shore.
OAD: The women’s journey across the Pacific is almost over. What happens next? Will you be participating in press events with the crew?
SM: I think some rest and relaxation is in order for the Coxless Crew! After 9 months at sea and nearly four years dedicated to make this dream a reality, I hope these women take the time to reflect. For me, my work is just beginning. Once I return from Australia I will officially begin post-production on the film.
OAD: When will the finished film be ready for release?
SM: I hope to have the film complete by Fall of 2016, but it depends on which distributor partners up with me and the project to determine a release date. I still have a considerable amount of money to raise to finish this endeavor, as well as find the right distribution path to be able to get this incredible story out to the masses. You can stay tuned for updates on our Facebook page. [UPDATE: Losing Sight of Shore will be available on Netflix on May 1, 2017.]
OAD: You’ve met many inspiring women through your work on The Empowerment Project. What makes the Coxless Crew so remarkable?
SM: I’ve learned that most challenges are largely mental, even if it seems like a physical one.The Coxless Crew are unlike any other people I’ve ever met. What drew me to them and still intrigues me about them is their sheer determination and perseverance. They represent who we all wish we could be in times of adversity. Anyone can take a piece of their story and bring it into their lives to motivate them to go after that next hurdle in life, that next mountain, or Pacific Ocean. I love their mantra: “We all have a Pacific to cross.” That to me, says it all. My job with this film is to bring the audience into their journey, but also to make them relatable as characters because they truly are relatable people. These are not professional athletes, this is more of a mental challenge than a physical one.
OAD: From your perspective watching these women cross the ocean, what do you think has been the hardest part of their trip? The easiest part (if there WERE any easy parts)? What have you learned about the women?
SM: The hardest part seems to be the constant discomfort. There isn’t really a time when they feel completely relaxed or comfortable – for 9 months! They are constantly covered in salt water, they are sweating buckets, physically exerting themselves for 12 hours a day, sleeping for only 90 minutes at a time, nothing about that sounds easy. I’m in awe. Easy – I think their dynamics together are unbelievable. They don’t fight, they are very open with each other, so supportive, and they balance each other out. When one is down, the others will rally to lift her back up. I think their relationships with each other have made this an enjoyable experience for them, paired with the incredible nature and beauty they have seen that perhaps no one else will ever see in the same way. That’s special.
I’ve learned that we are more alike than we are different as humans. I’ve learned that most challenges are largely mental, even if it seems like a physical one. I’ve learned we are capable of more than we will ever know, and the journey across the Pacific is a representation of what you can do with the power of the human spirit. They have inspired me to no end.
OAD: What do you want people to know about the film and learn from the film?
SM: In Losing Sight of Shore I want people to see what it took for these women to row the ocean logistically, physically, and mentally but perhaps more importantly I want the storytelling to come directly from the Coxless Crew. This is first person account of what it felt like for these 9 months at sea. I want people to watch the film no matter what country they live in, and feel like they can tackle the challenge in their lives. We do all have a Pacific to cross. Theirs is literal yes, but what if we all approached life in that way? Imagine the world we’d create.
Thank you Sarah Moshman for answering these questions. I’m looking forward to the film!
Learn More and Watch the Trailer
Be sure to read Losing Sight of Shore: 4 Women Row Across the Pacific for a look at previews, videos, and information about the crew and more about the upcoming documentary.