Maidentrip, the documentary about Laura Dekker, is now showing in select theaters. Unlike the over dramatized Lost with Robert Redford, Maidentrip is based on the real deal, the voyage that made Dekker famous. Directed by Jillian Schlesinger, a budding filmmaker, it was a production that had to make due with limited resources while following Dekker, who did all the on-board shooting herself while sailing her 38-foot ketch Guppy around the planet.
At one point, Dekker grumbled about some scenes she considered not entirely accurate. While transiting the Panama Canal, the scene is cut to suggest that Laura is sitting on the spreaders while inside the lock. "I was sitting on the spreaders on the lake, but not in the locks, (which) is totally wrong," Laura said.
The camera was also rolling at the stopover in Darwin, Australia, during a tense exchange with a reporter, which she didn’t approve of.
In spite of these details, she has since made peace with this film about her big adventure. I talked with her about how and why she picked the producer, what she contributed, and what she’s getting out of it.
How much did the camera work during the voyage distract from sailing?
Not too much really, I just had a handy cam and shot when I wanted to. Now that I look back, I wish I did that more often and with better waterproof equipment. Of course, sailing singlehanded and documenting at the same time is difficult, as it is impossible to shoot the crucial and difficult moments people want to see. I had much worse weather than shown in the film, but at that stage I did not think about grabbing my camera.
It was the producer's first film. What made you and your father agree to the deal?
Jillian (Schlesinger) came across as a spontaneous person, someone who wanted to make this documentary, simply because she loved the adventure of it. That’s different from big studios that are just looking at dollar signs. I felt great sympathy for her and trusted she would do anything to make the best possible film under the circumstances. Of course I wanted it to be of a certain quality, but I also felt strongly about giving her the challenge she really wanted, rather than working with someone who just does it for money.
Are you sharing in the proceeds?
Did your disagreement with some scenes affect your relationship with the director?
Jillian worked hard, spent a lot of time and money in it and did do a great job. I have known her for a long time and we traveled to many places; we started this project and even edited many scenes together. Let’s say that there were some things where she and I agreed to disagree. But I wish her all the best, that the film may run well and hopefully inspire other people to live their dreams.
Could filmmaking be part of your future plans?
I don’t know. I love documenting things in pictures, but I’m not too good at doing something with it.
Read Laura Dekker, Teen Sailor: “My friends thought I was insane”
Watch the Maidentrip Trailer
“It didn’t seem like Laura’s voice was represented anywhere.” Read an interview with filmmaker Jillian Schlesinger