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THE DOC SHOT Q&A: Dan Stone, Director, 'At the Edge of the World'

By Tamara Krinsky

The DOC SHOT Q&A is an exclusive online feature by Documentary magazine associate editor Tamara Krinsky. Through this mix of questions (some serious, some sassy) each DOC SHOT provides a glimpse into the work and lives of those creating and supporting nonfiction film.

Dan Stone
Director-At the Edge of the World


Brief description of your film:
At the Edge of the World chronicles the controversial Sea Shepherd's Antarctic Campaign against a Japanese whaling fleet. The action and adventure that unfold in the film also bring into play the larger questions of ends and means, injustice and indifference, idealism and greed, laws and politics and life and death.

Your role/credit on the film.

How did you find your subject or become involved in the film?
Nearly three years ago, Paul Watson was recommended as "someone who's actually doing something." When I called, they told me that Watson was down near Antarctica, somewhere in the middle of the ocean, and I asked, "What the hell is he doing there?"

Was there a moment in this film that went a different way than you expected?
When the two crew members got lost at sea

If you had had an extra $10,000 to spend on your film, what would you have used it for?
More post (as would every independent filmmaker).

What excites you about playing your film at the Toronto International Film Festival?
It's the best possible venue to premiere At the Edge, so we're really lucky. TIFF has a great international reputation and the Real to Reel Program is taken so seriously by the industry; Thom Powers and his team are extraordinary; the two captains in the film, Watson and Cornelissen, were born in Canada and kicked out of Canada, respectively; and 80 percent of the crew members featured in the film were from countries outside the US.

If you've had time to check out the TIFF catalogue, is there a particular film (aside from yours) or event at the festival that you're looking forward to attending?
The documentaries in particular cover some really compelling topics, I hope to see six or seven of them. It would also be great to see Miracle at St. Anna and Rocknrolla.


What's the first film you remember seeing as a child?
My earliest theatrical memory was seeing The Fantasticks, when I was 5.

Tell us about a film that affected your profoundly or changed/inspired the way you do your own work.
The Verdict

What would surprise people the most about your job or the way you execute it?
I don't know. What surprises me the most, however, is how much attention one person on a film receives when there are so many passionate people involved.

When you are feeling creatively stumped or burnt out, what do you do to get the creativity flowing again?
Running seems to help. I live at the bottom of a steep hill and, since I have bad knees, my routine is to run up and then think about things on the walk down. It's like the scene in Cannery Row-the fellow covering the same ground over and over again (someone recently got the police to question me, thinking I was staking out the neighborhood)


Daily essential read (online or off)?
I read so little these days, it's embarrassing. But when I find a really well-written book like Pictures at a Revolution, it's something to look forward to at the end of the day.

What's on your TIVO or iPod right now?
Actually, I don't have TIVO or an iPod; I do use the Internets.

What do you want more of in your life? What do you want less of in your life?

It would be wonderful to believe that, 20 years from now, atrocities against animals will be the exception rather than the rule. There's a terrific passage, it might be just a sentence, in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, in which a character speaks in amazement about a time before all the animals were killed off and how people treated them.

f you could add an extra hour to every day, how would you spend it?
My brother, who's also a producer on this film, read this question and said, "Well, you'd spend it with your niece and nephew, wouldn't you?" and being selfish I said, "Would I?" But being selfish I realized I probably would.

What do you want for your birthday?
The curious case of Benjamin Button.