Women behind the lens: Of the Sea
“Earth is our mother, and she’s the ultimate creator…” –Katherine Terrell
Citizens of planet earth in the twenty-first century – especially coastal residents and those in regions vulnerable to drought and famine – face the imminent possibility of becoming climate refugees. For Katherine Terrell, motherhood brings this reality out of the abstract. Her son, a bright and smiley six-year old, loves reading about the wonders of the natural world, and gets to experience awe inspiring wildlife in the Costa Rican jungle they call home. But by the time he reaches adulthood, the world as we know it now might no longer exist.
Katherine, an entrepreneur and activist, has been a refugee once before. As a young child, her family boarded a boat to cross the Pacific Ocean and fled the post-war communist regime that rocked their native Vietnam. She recounts this journey and how it shaped her climate sensibility in Of the Sea, a powerful documentary short by Jordyn Romero.
After studying German at Berkeley and Design in Michigan and abroad, Katherine anchored in Malibu, California. There, she became a familiar face at First Point where she surfed up to the eight-month mark of her pregnancy. As a community organizer for the Surfrider Foundation and later for her own socially responsible swimwear brand Jeux De Vagues, she fostered her talent of mobilizing water women.
She crossed paths with Jordyn Romero, then a fledgling filmmaker and rising sophomore at Chapman University, at the first of Jeux De Vagues’ famous Surf + Brunch events. Jordyn has attended every one of these events since, including Surf + March, a gathering in Huntington Beach where surfers expressed opposition to the expansion of oil drilling off the California coast. In one scene of the film, Katherine reflects on the activist coalitions she’s built: “One of the first images I had in my head when I started the company is that there would be gals in bikinis with signs, protesting at some march or movement – and oddly enough, it has manifested!”
“When I applied to transfer to the documentary major at Chapman University, I had to write an essay about an issue in the news that was important to me,” Jordyn recalls. “I wrote about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world). At the time, I wanted to make ‘surf porn’ for a living and never thought about the stories that were possible through the lens of surfing. I just wanted to make films that looked good. Three years later, I still want to make films that look good, but I want them to do good too… And boy, I’m excited to see how this dream manifests!”
Jordyn will walk across Chapman’s graduation stage in May with a diverse repertoire of cinematography and directing experience under her belt. Of the Sea, her thesis documentary, premiered on April 25th. Plans for screenings at film festivals and a tour through surf destinations are in the works. Stay tuned to find out where to watch.