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RBIFF - The Detector

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Three short films made by Delmarva residents have been packaged together at the 15th Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival and will screen under one banner called Shorts From Around Here: Take 2. I spoke with Rob Waters who directed one of those films called The Detector, which he made mostly in the small towns of Milton and Lewes, Delaware. The synopsis for The Detector is a man buys a metal detector and uses it to find his missing wedding ring on a beach. It's not much, but when I pressed Waters for more details to get at what the movie was about, he wouldn't say because there's a turn that the 41-minute movie makes that Waters wants to surprise audiences. I understand not wanting to ruin a surprise, so instead of potentially spoiling the movie, I'll just spoil things about Waters' life.

Rob Waters is 36. He was born in my hometown of Philadelphia, but he grew up a few miles south in Wilmington. He attended the University of Delaware or Udel where he majored in Fine Arts and Visual Communications. Waters is now a freelance, graphic artist contributing to newspapers and magazines. His wife, Erin Tanner, is an English professor at Udel and Delaware Tech. Both moved downstate to the beach town of Lewes in 2002.

Waters said he's a self-taught filmmaker who started about three years ago. He began by doing commercials. In fact, he entered the Dogfish Head Short Film Competition around three years ago. The competition called for various kinds of short films, including commercials. Waters employed his wife as well as friends like fellow filmmaker, Jeb Lee, to be actors and to help him write, but when it came to the behind-the-scenes stuff, Waters was basically a one-man-band.

He's entered into the Dogfish Head Short Film Competition, which is now a part of the Off Centered Film Festival, every year since. He's made his works for that competition available online via Vimeo. You can check them out here. It will give an idea of Waters' ability, an ability he really stretched two years ago when he shot the pilot episode to a potential TV series called The Last Resort. It's not to be confused with the new ABC series Last Resort. Waters' series was about a hotel closing as opposed to ABC's series being about the crew of a rogue, nuclear submarine.

Waters' pilot may or may not have been ready for prime-time television. All of his other projects have been pieced together with him shooting on weekends whenever his actors were free and using a small, consumer camera. While The Last Resort played at the Rehoboth Beach festival two years ago, Waters said he sent the TV pilot there because it's a local festival so the local talent in the pilot could have an easy opportunity to see it on the big screen, which is as far as Waters wanted to take it. Waters admitted to me that he wasn't comfortable showing his work anywhere else, certainly not to any of the bigger festivals, mostly because he didn't feel his work was worthy.

However, he told me The Detector is the best thing he's done so far. He also said as he gets better, he'll start submitting his work to other places. His humility is appreciated, but his hesitation still is probably not required. Back in September, Waters won the Audience Award for his 5-minute movie at the Wilmington Extreme Filmmaking Contest. That short is also available here on Vimeo. It's interesting to see the rise or the evolution of a filmmaker, so any one reading this can check out Waters' work and decide if he's ready to spread his wings. I personally believe that he is ready.

The Detector
[Shorts From Around Here: Take 2]
November 9, 2012 at 2:05PM.
Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival.

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