During the muggy, boiling summer, there's no more enticing thought than cooling off under a flowing waterfall. On July 24, 2010, a day in which a heat advisory engulfed Port Washington, local resident Alan Teitel took his 10-year-old daughter, Clara, to a park near their house and made that fantasy a reality.
Of course, a waterfall didn't magically materialize. It was really a bucket of water. And nothing separates this seemingly mundane occurrence from every other time a father has cooled down his daughter, except for this: Long Island audiences will get to see it in a documentary that opens locally tomorrow.
The founder of the UltraSlo production company, which specializes in capturing pristine images in slow motion, Teitel, 55, filmed his daughter that hot Saturday and sent his footage to the "Life in a Day" project.
The brainchild of YouTube and Scott Free UK (filmmaker Ridley Scott's production company), "Life in a Day" producers solicited the submission of short films shot by everyday users from across the planet on July 24, 2010, to be edited into a single user-generated documentary. There were no rules for the films shot except that they be centered on questions such as "What do you fear?" and "What makes you happy?" The project was meant to provide a daylong snapshot of life on Earth.
Although Teitel is a two-time Emmy winner and a top cameraman with an active YouTube channel, there was no guarantee his work would be selected.
"I submitted the thing and, much to my surprise, I got an email back that said that I was a contender," Teitel says. "And that day was pretty exciting. And then I heard how many people there were." The odds of making the final cut were overwhelming. The filmmakers received 80,000 submissions, totaling more than 4,500 hours. The finished film runs 90 minutes.
Yet Teitel and his daughter are there, water pouring on her in luminous slow-motion, comprising an image that the film's editor, Joe Walker, says "looks like a million shards of glass [that] scatter in the sunlight."
"When I got to know that yes, indeed, it was happening and yes, indeed, there was distribution . . . every part of it was, 'Wow,' " Teitel says. "Wow, this is powerful. Wow, this is strong. I've been very proud and pleased to be involved in it. It's hard to express how it is to sort of puff up your chest once and [say], 'You know, my stuff is good and people think so.' "