16mm on video – 22 minutes – 2004

Towlines is an experimental documentary that explores the visual characteristics of the maritime industry and pays homage to these great workhorses.

Borrowing the tone of a children’s book, Towlines combines historical information with creative cinematography and sound design to plead the case that the tugboat is a heroic yet tragic figure deserving of careful recognition.

Tugboats are essentially the workhorses of a harbor; versatile floating engines that do difficult and dangerous work in a very subservient fashion. With their stubby design, and humble demeanor they are always ready and always working tremendously hard, but throughout history they have never been in the spotlight.

Towlines was filmed in the Pacific Northwest, San Francisco, Louisiana, and New York, and features archival footage that dates back as far as 1898. Towlines also features an original soundtrack composed by James Mercer (singer/song-writer for the acclaimed band The Shins), and was narrated by visual artist Melody Owen.

Writer/Director/Camera/Edit: Matt McCormick
Narrator: Melody Owen
Music: James Mercer
Graphics: Rob Tyler


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