Thursday, September 28, 2023

Coronado Junior Beach Lifeguards Get Academy Award Winning Direction on the Beach

By Phil G. Garn

Academy Award Nominated and BAFTA winning Film Producer Lisa Bruce helping one of six groups of Coronado Junior Guards storyboard an idea for a beach safety video on August 3, 2021. This was Ms. Bruce’s second session with the Coronado Junior Guard’s program this season.

“Traveling shot, cut to the closeup, keep it dynamic, the audience has to understand, we can edit that later…” An advanced cinematography master class at USC or UCLA? No, BAFTA Award winner and two time Academy Award nominee producer (“Darkest Hour” and “The Theory of Everything”) and Coronado High School graduate Lisa Bruce, helping the C’s (9-11 year old Junior Beach Lifeguards) make films about beach safety on Coronado’s Center Beach: rip currents, stingrays and sunburns.

As part of innovations introduced by new Coronado Junior Lifeguard Director James Murphy, Beach Lifeguard Garison Covel, and Beach Lifeguard Captain Sean Carey, Lisa Bruce volunteered to help junior guards make mini videos about beach safety. On a sunny Tuesday morning, she began with the basics of on-screen storytelling and explained storyboarding (basically blocking out a film, shot by shot in an almost cartoon style) with the C’s. She talked about different types of shots and how the Junior Guards could dynamically convey their messages in a very short time.

After the basics, the C’s were split into six groups and told to come up with a story about beach safety. The groups were rotated individually through more individual storyboarding and instruction with Ms. Bruce and Lifeguard Cadet “Good Jack”; beach runs and exercise activities with Lifeguard Cadets Abigale and Shelia who were masterful getting the groups into activities along with Beach Lifeguard Lauren (the author first ran into Lauren in a rip current at North a few weeks ago, where she calmly and expertly took over the rescue of a Chula Vista boy who was not doing well), a mature leader competent in and out of the water.

During the storyboarding sessions, it was evident the  C’s were very familiar with lifeguard terminology such as “climbing the ladder,” a victim tiring and appearing to go up instead of moving forward in the water and on the verge of panic, as well as “going over the falls,” having a victim snapped in with a rescue tube and getting tumbled by a big wave or two going into shore (got to do that with Lauren on the rescue at North), and beach patrons wearing street clothes in the water and not putting on sunscreen. The C’s story ideas were also very inventive:

A group of girls goes to the beach. One asks, “Should we ask the lifeguards where to swim?” The other girls say, “No” and two of them promptly get caught in a rip current. One lifeguard goes to the rescue and then signals for backup by raising an arm and waving for her fellow guard to assist the other victim.
Lifeguards tell a group of kids about a lost treasure under the water, the kids go out to investigate and get caught in a rip current, lifeguards to the rescue, again.
Highlighting beach types including the “know it all,” “the have it alls” (every beach toy and accoutrement known to man), sandcastle builders, the oblivious Instagramer “doing it for the gram” walking right into the sandcastle. Surfers versus boogie boards and why the two do not mix in the water (hard boards with different trajectories), etc.
The seasoned lifeguard (Ava) coaching the wayward and clumsy lifeguard (Matthew) improving his skills and ocean knowledge.

Ms. Bruce gave suggestions to move the action and heighten the tension, while “Good Jack” would often help with the sketching and labeling on the story boards as well as keeping the C’s on task. The C’s were willing to enlist beach patrons as extras, particularly getting them into the rip current part for added realism. Lifeguard Cadet Abigale wisely said they would probably need a release for that and would use Beach Lifeguards for the heavy-duty stunt work, e.g. victims caught in rip currents. When Ms. Bruce asked about props, the C’s assured her that they could use all the lifeguard equipment and do pretty much everything including riding in the “hot seat” (front passenger seat of the lifeguard vehicle and guard likely to go into the water first on a rescue, while the lifeguard driver reports to the tower by radio), but admitted they were too young to drive and would need the Beach Lifeguard’s help with driving, the lights and sirens.

Ms. Bruce helping the C’s was an outstanding example of Coronado professionals giving back to their community, not only helping the C’s reinforce their beach knowledge – what they have learned about beach safety during their summer session – but helping others enjoy the beach and ocean more fully and safely.

Parents, mark your calendars for next summer’s Junior Lifeguard program. There will be a one week Ocean Awareness program and two Junior Guard sessions that include programs tailored for different age groups A’s (14-17 years old), B’s (12-13 years old) and C’s (9-11 years old) as well as an Introductory session (8-10 years). The Beach Lifeguards are also looking for young people (14-17 years old) with junior lifeguard experience as well as a high level of responsibility and motivation for Junior Lifeguard Cadets to assist with next year’s programs.


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