“Ahoy!” - Shorts Challenge

“Ahoy!” - Shorts Challenge, by Julian Alvarez

Mary Grace Gallagher

As a kid, Julian Alvarez loved watching big-screen adventure movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Treasure Island, stories of rollicking action on open seas. Then he grew up and went to film school and found  himself making documentary films and “tamping down” those fictional worlds, holding back in an effort to produce something more “important.”

More recently, Alvarez, 28, has decided to merge the fairy tale aspects of his childhood adventures with a very real world concern about climate change and create a hybrid which he describes as a “post-apocalyptic fairytale.”

“Ultimately I want to make movies that I want to watch,” he said. “It seems like an obvious thing but it took a long time to arrive at.”

To pull it off, he is working with producers Emmi Shockley, 26, Jess Gabor, 27 and Rebecca Meija-Mendoza, 27, who have scouted out, among other things, a deep-sea fishing vessel in the Chesapeake Bay to serve as a naturalistic set.

Alvarez’s story presents a fantastical world in which a young boy is being raised out in the ocean by a group of salty fishermen who have survived global environmental collapse. The boy, who will be played by Alvarez’s 13-year-old nephew, tells the fisherman he is desperate to see dry land, which has taken on a mythical quality in the film’s version of the future.

When they finally find land, all that is left is a swampy ruin, which Alvarez plans to represent by filming actual locations in the Chesapeake Bay like Tangier Island, which are disappearing due to coastal erosion.

“Even though it’s a fantasy film, there’s a gut punch at the end and that’s that this is our reality,” said Alvarez, who lives and works in New York City.

Julian Alvarez - been freelance 5 years  grad NYU tish 2019; since then i’ve writing dir my own projects and working to fund so i can write direct more

He calls this his “most ambitious” project to date and says that he feels an urgency to make it now.

“I feel like it’s now or never,” he said. “Not only is my nephew getting older, but also, just looking at our world and how unstable things are becoming… We are pushing to make this.”