In the beginning
ST. THOMAS US VIRGIN ISLANDS.
With my film, SAND on the FLOOR, ready to enter the 2018 film festival circuit and with the launch of this website, it feels like a good time to look back. To explain the journey, the many interconnected journeys, that got us to here today, to this significant moment in time. This time of change.
The film was conceived on a steamy night in July 2015, with the moon playing hide and seek with the clouds overhead. It was Thursday. One of the many Thursday nights we shared dinner with Rabbi Ron Herstik. Leslie and I always looked forward to these dinners, where we discussed (along with some lighter subjects) God, Life, Death and the Nature of Spiritually.
Ron served for one-year as Interim Rabbi here at the Hebrew Congregation of Saint Thomas. His mission was to reunite the Congregation and the Board following the sudden departure of his much-beloved predecessor. It was a lonely job.
Ron is a deeply spiritual man. And from day one we connected on that level. He has an infectious laugh. And coming off a year-long ordeal following spinal surgery that left my right arm paralyzed, I needed his laughter badly. Ron needed someone he could confide in. Someone he could trust. And someone who could cook. We were made for each other.
Ron was obviously having a rough week… butting heads with the Board… and feeling quite lonely with his wife and daughters living in Atlanta. He needed a break. I decided I was going to get Ron drunk. You have to understand that Ron’s idea of ‘drinking’ is sipping about a half bottle of light beer. I had four bottles of wine for the three of us.
Plates of roasted salmon, garden fresh greens and brown rice graced the table. I poured the wine. Holding his hand over his glass, Ron resisted. But I insisted. The food was blessed and consumed. The wine flowed as did the conversation. With two bottles down and two to go, Leslie excused herself for the evening. I opened another bottle, filled our glasses and toasted.
“L’chaim! To life!”
This was no idle gesture and I flashed on the year of physical therapy that made lifting my glass possible.
“Ron…you know what I really want to do? I want to make a movie…”
After 40-years as a still-photographer, I had begun to dabble with video, cutting my teeth on weddings and Bar Mitzvahs and producing a few ‘art’ film along the way.
Now that I could actually lift a camera again, I was anxious to create something significant. Something that could resonate in people’s souls… not just another art film.
“All I need is good story… I have the rest…”
After another glass of wine and some conversation I can’t recall, it hit me. Boom. Just like that.
“Ron! I got it! We’re the story Ron… we’re the story!”
“Yeah…we! You! Me! The Congregation! The Synagogue! Its history! The sand! It’s all there… just waiting for me to notice!”
“That’s a pretty ambitious project, Steve… you’ll need a good title… what would you call it?”
“How about…Sand on the Floor.”