Slaughter Across The Water

In 1997 the Spa Creek bridge was shut down for repairs. This was the neighborhood of Eastport’s main connection to the city of Annapolis. Residents worried about the negative effects on their local economy and businesses. Out of this quandary the Maritime Republic of Eastport (MRE) was born.

In 1998 the MRE challenged Annapolis to a tug of war to celebrate their triumphant independence now known as “The Slaughter Across The Water”.

“The longest international tug of war over water in the world” (although the Guinness Book of World Records doesn’t recognize tug of wars due to their danger) draws thousands of onlookers, participants, and merrymakers.

In 2009 I followed MRE members from the planning stages of the tug to it’s inevitable aftermath. My camera, a Canon HV20, suited my run and gun style and allowed me to shoot handheld and remain unobtrusive.

I felt a larger camera that screamed “professional” would have made people uncomfortable. The only shots that contained any direction were the interviews. Everything else was just being in the right place at the right time.

To document the tug of war I positioned one camera crew on the Annapolis City Dock with an HV20. On the Eastport side we had two cameras to cover the several thousand people enjoying the tug festival which includes food, booze, and live music. I was on the ground with an HV30 and my dad was positioned high above  with an HV20 locked down which also streamed live to the Internet.


The Vaunted Canon HV20


I cut the film using Final Cut Pro 7. The look of the Canon HV20/30s allowed me to get a “cinema” look at 24fps. I can’t compliment these cameras enough. Finally, I worked with my brother Peter to grade the film in Apple’s Color. He’s well known in the DC area for his color grading wizardry and I highly recommend him for your next project.

The Tug of War, now in it’s 13th year, continues again Saturday, November 6 on 2nd Street in Eastport and City Dock in Annapolis. Details about this year’s event (including booze on the Annapolis side for the first time!) can be found at the MRE’s web site here.

I hope that my humble little film serves as an entertaining and historical account of the mysterious practices and often misunderstood people of the MRE who are ‘still revolting’ 13 years after their founding.

p.s. I’m proud to finally release this film to the public after nearly a year of keeping it under wraps. It was nominated for a Visions Award at American University. Big props to everyone who helped out with the production including Yuri Ozeryan, Andrew Gay, Wendy Marxen, and my professor Larry Engel.


2 Responses to “Slaughter Across The Water”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Garrett O'Brien, Jon Salvia. Jon Salvia said: New blog post up on my Visions nominated short documentary Slaughter Across The Water […]

  2. […] UPDATE: From the photographer who shot the video, Jon Salvia, please read more about the filming here. […]

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