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Message in a Bottle Documentary – The Tides That Bind

Back in July, a dream of mine came true: A short documentary about my odd little hobby was born! Director Nicholas Natalicchio, a professor at Drexel College in Philadelphia, heard about my work when I was searching for Ray from Philly a few years back. He wanted to help, and not just with finding Ray. Nick’s vision was to create a documentary film that shared my mission of delivering long lost letters from the sea and making friends out of strangers in this improbable and lovely way. When he called me to discuss making this film, it sparked an adventure that took us on some wild rides over the next two years! I am so grateful for the experience, and humbled to be the subject of Nick’s film, The Tides That Bind.

I have to say, it is strange being the subject of a film – especially now that it is showing at festivals around the country. I’m just some guy!

At the same time, I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story with everyone who sees the film – but only because it allows me to tell the stories of the friends I’ve made through messages in bottles. I have found that they are are wonderful, interesting, curious, thoughtful, kind people. Watching cable news, you’d never believe it – but finding messages in bottles and meeting people on the other end has taught me that most people are good and kind and friendly. Meeting total strangers from all walks of life this way gives me hope, and reminds me that we all have more in common than not. We are not each other’s enemies; if anything, the forces that plot to divide us are the bad guys. If my story conveys anything, I hope it is this: The strangers all around you could be your friends if you just had a chance to connect. You don’t have to find a message in a bottle to test this.

The other thing about this film that is hugely important to me is that it gives me the chance to share with everyone what I mostly find when I go looking for messages in bottles: trash. Almost entirely plastic. I don’t know exactly what my place is in the movement to stop plastic pollution and clean up what can’t be stopped, but it is a movement I believe in deeply. Aside from cleaning up plastic trash from beaches where I beach comb, The Tides That Bind has given me my best chance to date to tell people about–and show–the shocking, depressing amount of plastic pollution I encounter on beaches everywhere I go.

That’s the thing about the tides that bind us – the tides tell stories and connect us all, but they also reflect back to us our relationship with the ocean and with each other.

Lastly, I am deeply grateful to Nick for agreeing to donate 10% of net proceeds from the film to the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. Alagalita–and Captain Charles Moore in particular–were the first people I ever saw on television showing the world the exact bits and pieces of plastic trash that I had found blanketing shores everywhere I went. I saw Charles Moore on David Letterman’s show in 2010 showing viewers a poster board covered in everything I saw when I went looking for bottled messages: plastic lighters, toothbrushes, bottle caps, and more. Now, our little film may never actually turn a cent of profit (documentary shorts are not exactly huge money-makers!) but if it does, we will contribute at least something to fostering Algalita’s vision of a plastic-free ocean.

So that’s what The Tides That Bind is all about: a little magic, a lot of friendship, and a dream of a cleaner ocean.

I hope you’ll like and follow The Tides That Bind on Facebook, where you can keep up with screenings in case it comes to your area.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me all these years and for believing messages in bottles deserved a documentary! I hope you get to attend a screening – and who knows? I may just come too.

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