VOICE OF IMPACT: Sarah Moshman
By Sarah Moshman
Stephen Spielberg said something recently that stuck with me. He said that your dreams
don’t often come up to you and shout in your face – “HEY! OVER HERE! IT’S YOUR DREAM!
COME GET ME!” If they did, everyone would know when it is time to pay attention and to
move forward. He said, “Your dreams are often just a whisper, and you have to be listening
to the whispers in order to hear them.” I love this idea, because it has certainly been my
experience in my career as a documentary filmmaker and entrepreneur that some of the
biggest and brightest opportunities in my work have been the tiniest and quietest
whispers. Whispers that could have floated right on by and no one would have been the
wiser. No one, of course, except me.
I had recently completed my first feature-length documentary THE EMPOWERMENT
PROJECT and was days away from setting off on a 2-month tour around the country to
screen and promote the film. I was in no way seeking out a new project at this time in my
life. I was exhausted and exhilarated in a way that only making a film can do to you. After
years of pushing so hard, life was good.
I’ll never forget it, I was sitting at my dining room table and I received an email from a
woman named Fiona Tatton who is a blogger I had corresponded with in the past. Her
email was innocent in many ways – she wanted to introduce me to a group of women
named the Coxless Crew who were mere months away from setting off across the Pacific
Ocean from America to Australia – over 8,000 miles - in a rowboat. They were hoping to be
the first team of 4 to ever achieve this incredible feat. Fiona thought maybe I could advise
them on what camera to buy for their journey, and that was really it. I had never heard of
anything like this before, but agreed to Skype with two of the women on the team – Laura
Penhaul and Natalia Cohen shortly after. I went in to the conversation with no expectations
at all. I wanted to hear more about their motivations to do this, but my genuine hope was to
help them in any way I could and then move on with my busy life.
I can say now that this conversation between the 3 of us, is one that counted. This
conversation told me everything I needed to know to go all in on helping them tell their
story. Because within that hour on Skype, it was so clear to me that these women were
doing something so much bigger than themselves. This was not about rowing at all. (Which
I should mention at this point, I am not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination and I
know absolutely nothing about the sport of rowing). What I learned was that this team of
brave women were setting out to do the impossible, and prove the immense power of the
human spirit along the way. I had no idea how I was going to pull this off – personally,
professionally, financially, but I heard this whisper loud and clear. This story must be told,
and it must be told by me.
What followed that conversation was a more than 2-year journey to make a film that is now
called LOSING SIGHT OF SHORE. It’s a documentary about the harrowing journey that
transpired over the course of 9 months in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. These heroic
women rowed 24 hours a day, 2 hours on, 2 hours in a pink 29-foot ocean rowing boat
called Doris. And although I was not on the boat with them – they were rowing
unsupported so no follow boat, no camera boat – I truly had an adventure of a lifetime
traveling around the world to meet them on land along the way and have this front row
seat to the most extraordinary example of courage and determination I have ever seen.
If you had told me 4 years ago I would be making a film about rowing I would have thought
you were crazy – this was not in my plan for my career. But I’m so grateful for that tiny
whisper that came across my desk, and I’m so grateful I had the wherewithal to not only
hear it, but to act on it. To try something, to take steps forward and see how those steps felt
and then take a few more. The experience of making LOSING SIGHT OF SHORE was an
immense personal and professional challenge, and although I didn’t physically row across
any ocean, I am now certain I am capable of absolutely anything I set my mind to. We all
have a Pacific to cross is the tagline of the film, and these conversations that count can truly
be that first step, or that first stroke across the ocean.
You do not want to miss Sarah's presentation at Own Your Voice Summit this October 19th at Greater Houston Partnership.
LOSING SIGHT OF SHORE is currently available to watch in 190 countries on Netflix.