Based on the director’s own time as a navigation cadet in Ontario, Thyrone Tommy’s Mariner is a stylish and atmospheric 20-minute short that explores themes of anxiety and isolation. Looking to shed light on the “black Canadian experience”, as well as giving an insight into the experience of studying such a specialised craft, Tommy’s short is a distinct viewing experience heralding an original storytelling voice.
Described as a “psychological sailor tale” by its creator, Tommy decided to shoot his short at the same college where he’d studied as a navigation cadet himself. Facing up to his own demons by returning to a location he’d encountered his own struggles in the past, the director’s experience creating Mariner mirrored the endeavours of his protagonist Nate, making for an unusual case of art imitating life and life imitating art.
Shot over the course of 4 days using an Arri Amira (in 2K) with Cooke S4 lenses, Tommy and his small crew made sure to light and frame the narrative in a manner which always highlighted the anxiety Nate was experiencing. Bringing it all together in Post, the director compares the pacing and edit of his film to the “unpredictability of actually controlling a ship”, adding that “its direction is set, but its route is anything but level”.
Using sound design to give them film its pressurised feel, Tommy reveals one of his main aims was to make his audience feel a certain discomfort, almost as if he was inviting them onboard and “feel the waves of being a cadet”.
A filmmaker we’ve had our eye on for sometime (we nearly featured his earlier short Avalanche), Thyrone is now working on creating a feature version of Mariner, alongside another feature about his time playing football under Toronto’s infamous Mayor Rob Ford. If the director can build on the impressive ground work he’s laid in his short film work, we’re expecting a very bright future for this filmmaker.