The Big Float Videographers ⎜Stephen Kurowski + Marina Tait

Will Levenson of Popina Swimwear fame brought Back Fence PDX Producer/Host B. Frayn Masters on board to write and co-produce videos to help promote his awesome civic project, The Big Float. Look for lovely Back Fence Babes Nathalie Weinstein, Meagan Kate, and Kerry Grether in… Life Jacket-Less Susie!

On three afternoons of filming video shorts for The Big Float 2, we identified with filmmakers who have famously battled rivers: Werner Herzog making Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo, Francis Ford Coppola with Apocalypse Now.

We expected the Life-Jacketless Susie shoot to be difficult because of the large cast. We’d have only one chance to capture the climactic gang-jumping-into-the-water shot. But apart from copious amounts of goose poop on the pier, escaping beach balls carried upstream by the wind, and tense moments maneuvering a canoe into position with the camera for the big jump, it all went smoothly. The cast was fantastic. We were glad we didn’t have to ask them to jump in again.

Jaws of the Willamette turned out to be more of a challenge. The river is safe to swim in, but mid-June it was still mighty chilly from snow melt. Britt Harris was a marvel. She gave a spot-on performance in her custom-made nude bathing suit, despite suffering the early stages of hypothermia. Tuba guy, Rob Gray, and Shark guy, Ian Karmel, quickly nailed their performances and we were done for the afternoon.

We reconvened later that week, when temps were in the 70s and sunny, needing only a few simple shots. But we discovered that warm weather brings motor boats and jet skis galore. One hour of filming stretched into four. Stephen, standing with his camera in the river, began to scream obscenities as the frenzied watercraft ruined another perfect shot.

Eventually we got that final shot. No one died or had a nervous breakdown. And the videos turned out great!

The best news is that by July 29th, when The Big Float sets sail across the Willamette, the water will be much warmer.


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