Sunshine State of Mind

Floridian workers' livelihoods share a close but dangerous bond with the natural world. The lives of those who preserve the history of their craft while trying to adapt to the world that is changing around them have become harder year after year. The film will look at the change that has occurred between my fathers relationship to fishing, a dying art, and how that has had to change due to factors out of his control. Our shared love of fishing has bonded us and that has changed just as we have.

  • Samuel Willinger
    游泳 - swim, LABELS
  • Neely Eddleston
    A Student Film
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Nature, Documentary, Biological, Day in the life
  • Runtime:
    23 minutes 20 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 29, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    A7S ii, GoPro, iPhone, 8mm Tape
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Emerson College
Director Biography - Samuel Willinger

Sam is a recent graduate from Emerson College with a BFA in Film Production and minor in Journalism. In his final semester he worked on a number of projects in local Boston communities as well as a thesis documentary. Sams work focuses on intersectionality of issues, family relationships and community development, by developing connections with  both his subjects and his audience.

Sams first projects included work on an LGBTQ+ volleyball community in Cambridge, MA (LABELS). This piece was nominated for Best Documentary at the Emerson College 2020 EVVY Awards and was accepted into the Boston Shorts Fest in 2021. He also produced a film on a local public schools fundraising efforts to support an in-school swim program (游水-Swim) also nominated for Best Documentary at the Emerson College 2020 EVVY Awards.

Sam intends to further his goals of telling stories that don't always get the time of day through documentary film work as well as photography. The medium is not as important as the message.

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Director Statement

The pandemic made my vision for this project change which lead me down a new path to what we see today. A path that has allowed me to make two films I have always wanted to make into one; A personal film about my father and an environmentally focused day in the life. It was a monumental task to do this in the face of the pandemic and yet we still got it done.

Time and time again we faced major obstacles to make this project happen but overcame them through creative solutions and commitment to the central theme of this film, "Change". We see it in the systems that support and erode the fishing industry, in the patterns of fish, and we see it in the people who call this industry their own.

I couldn't have asked for a better way to end my time at Emerson College. This project was a totally insane and crazy adventure that I would have not survived without an incredible team of talented and adaptable people around me. Thank you to everyone that worked on this, supported us, and encouraged us along the way.