2013-04-12 / Community

Seven Miles To Shore

Film Catches Dylan Spirit
By James Flannery

In all the news reports on television, and in newspapers and magazines about Superstorm Sandy, no one really captured the experience of what it was like to live through it like a new documentary made by a local filmmaker with the cooperation of many local residents. Like the storm itself the documentary, Seven Miles to Shore, builds as locals tell their stories of what happened on October 29th, 2012, until it climaxes with the inspirational story of the heroic acts of Dylan Smith who saved so a many people from their fire ravaged homes, taking them to safety on his surfboard.

As most residents know, Dylan Smith later died in a surfing accident in Rincon, Puerto Rico less than two months later.

“I didn’t want this film to be about Dylan’s death, I wanted it to be about his extraordinary acts of bravery, his life and his spirit,” said John Sica who made the documentary.

“It all started with some video that I had taken that night and some videos I saw on my son’s phone. I put them together on YouTube along with a music video of still photos I took on the days following the storm.”

It wasn’t until months later, after Dylan had died that Sica found about his heroic acts and knew then that he must tell the story.

“I’ve known Dylan his whole life and it wasn’t until after he died that I heard about the incredible things that he did,” Sica said. “Dylan didn’t want any of the attention of being a hero and I was stunned to hear what he did that night. We were teammates in the Rockaway Beach Volleyball League, and I ran into him after the storm a few times but never did I know about his heroics.”

Sica enlisted the help of Deidre Roberts, a friend and neighbor of Dylan’s to help him locate and get some of those people Dylan saved to agree to be interviewed on camera about that night. It wasn’t easy since all of those he saved lost their homes entirely that night and were forced to relocate.

On a cold January day Sica and Roberts along with a local high school film student, Cal Zito, interviewed Ray Marten, Cathy Cregg, Lauren Marten, and Robert Rochelle on the back deck of the Wharf, a bayside bar and restaurant. “I knew Dylan had saved so many people but to hear them tell the story, I was not prepared for the powerfulness of their stories”, said Sic about the interviews. “Dierdre and I were choked up and crying several times as they told their stories.” In the weeks that followed more people were interviewed.

Another aspect of the film making process that Sica compares to the storm, is the way the Rockaway community comes together in times of need. “The film is really a compilation of many in the Rockaways working together to make things happen.” In addition to Roberts and Zito, other locals were involved in the production. The popular band Indaculture along with Timothy Kuffner added their talents to the film, recording a number of songs that can be heard during the documentary. When a request for video footage of the storm was put out on Facebook by Sica’s daughter, Trish Sica, many locals donated video and stills they had taken from their phones and cameras to the project. Another local filmmaker, Etan Blatt had produced a beautiful video of the paddle out honoring Dylan which John incorporated into his film.

The documentary was selected from over 800 films into the Rincon International Film Festival in Puerto Rico and was shown on Wednesday April 10th.

“I chose that film festival because Dylan loved Rincon and was in the process of moving there full time when he died.” John said. The first showing in Rockaway is tentatively scheduled for Saturday April 20th at 830 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus.

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