“Sand in My Soul” Documents the Real Emerald Coast

Filmmaker Shane Reynolds

By Chris Manson


Local filmmaker Shane Reynolds, writer, producer, director and narrator of the new documentary Sand in My Soul, took time out of his insanely busy schedule to talk to The Beachcomber about his film, which premieres locally in April.


How long has the film been in the making?

This is the most personal project I have ever embarked on. (I) have been meticulously working on (it) for the better part of a decade. This is the first—and the most definitive—full-length historical documentary on the Emerald Coast and Okaloosa County. It’s a 100 percent local production, from the interviews to the production crew to the music.


What prompted you to make this film?

I wanted to tell the whole story, not just the stuff that promotes tourism. So that means it isn’t all puppies and rainbows, but it is quite an engaging story that covers everything from the early days, the military, fishing, Billy Bowlegs, Crab Island, surfing, hurricanes, etc. etc. etc.


How many crew members were involved? Were there any issues with permits, that sort of thing?

Aside from the archival footage, most of the shots in the documentary were footage that I’ve shot over the last decade or so. But the local interviews required a crew that consisted of a sound mixer (usually Steve Baker), a production assistant, and a second camera operator (Alex Lau, Jon Deckert and Jake Dillard, among others). Lee Glaser was usually on set, as this project was her brainchild and she set up most of the interviews.


I was strict about only using locals for crew. As far as logistics go, the beauty of this area is that it is very accommodating, so permits are never a big deal. Typically, it’s just a matter of letting the local film commission know.


The film industry on the Emerald Coast has seen considerable growth in recent years. I’m thinking about Carrie Hunter’s recent Hurricane Michael documentary Blue Tarps for starters.

It’s definitely seen growth. There’s a ton of local talent for such a small production market, and a lot of quality work coming out of this neck of the woods. I think a big reason is that people here are good storytellers, and when you give storytellers creative technology to illustrate those stories, then you get engaging content.


How many locations were involved in the shoot?

Too many to count. Even if it’s just an establishing shot, I feel like I’ve scoured the entire Panhandle.


I love that all the music in the film is homegrown. Who are some of the musicians featured, and did anyone turn you down for whatever reason?

Most of the local musicians used were friends of mine, and they knew what this project was about, so that part was easy. I wanted to use an Edwin McCain song since he is featured in the doc, but that proved to be far too complicated.


In the trailer, I spotted Charles Morgan among the notable locals. Who are some of the other “names” we can expect to see in the Sand in My Soul?

Again, too many to count, but Dewey Destin, Kelly Windes, Tommy Browning (along with a fleet of other legendary fishermen from the area), a past Captain Billy Bowlegs (Phil Blumer), Gail Meyer from the Indian Temple Mound, Tom Rice from Magnolia Grill, historians/photographers Tony Menillo and David Shea, and even Bull Rigdon and Jean Melvin, who have both since passed away are featured.


There appears to be quite a bit of historical footage in the film. How hard was that to get your hands on?

One of the reasons I agreed to do this almost a decade ago was because I had collected quite a bit historic 8mm footage from the area, and I wanted to do something with it. Over the years, I found so much more that was so much better. A lot of this footage has never even been seen before.


Ultimately, this was my first feature length documentary, and it was quite a learning experience. Knowing what I know now, I think it would be a very different looking doc if I started this a year ago. But I love how it incorporates a hodgepodge of evolving style, because so does this area. We’re an eclectic community, and we ended up that way organically, so I think this documentary represents the Emerald Coast that I know really well.


Okay, so where can we see it?

A project this special deserves a proper debut, and there was no other place more appropriate for the premiere showing than the newly-renovated and historical Suds & Cinema in Downtown Fort Walton Beach. It will be from 2 to 4 PM Saturday, April 4, and Sunday, April 5. You can get tickets at sandinmysoul.ticketleap.com/emeraldcoast/.


We want this to be a community event with a keynote speaker, live music, door prizes, Q&A, etc. We’re looking for a good cause to donate a portion of the proceeds to, which will be announced at the event. Preferably a cause that has some sort of local preservation goal.


Also, links to rent or buy—stream or download—online, along with full interviews, extended scenes and more, will be available after the premiere.


Mr. Reynolds later informs me that both screenings are sold out for now, but he’s considering another weekend of showings. Either way, Sand in My Soul will be released online Monday, April 6, at vimeo.com/ondemand/sandinmysoul.


See more of Mr. Reynolds’ work at www.colorearth.tv.

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