About the Film
In 1965 Will Forman designed Deep Voyager, a ground-breaking submarine that was never built. His idea could change multiple industries at sea today. Now, at 91 years old, he is building a test model to prove his concept, promote his book, and perhaps see his sub come to life.
Through Air & Water is the untold story of Will Forman, a legend among deep sea pilots and engineers. He built the first American deep sea sub, Deep Jeep, for the Navy in the 1950s. As the age of sea exploration blossomed with Jacques Cousteau center stage, Will was tapped to design various submersibles for the government, tourism, and treasure hunters. “What these guys were doing in the deep seas was all new and unknown; they were like the Wright brothers,” says Naval Sub Commander Charles MacVean, “What Will was doing back then is why subs work the way they do today.” At 91 years old, Will still stands to change the entire sub industry again as he tests a new sub design he invented 50 years ago. This film puts a face to the pioneering of deep sea exploration. Behind the innovations is a man who has quietly lived out many adventures and continues to challenge himself to the very end.
Will sitting at home beneath a painting from a crew member on Jacques Couteau's crew.
In addition to the possibility of getting into an actual submarine, what drew me this story is the idea of legacy. Our culture has consistently done a poor job at celebrating and mining the wisdom of those who are nearing the end of their long journey. We laud the tragedy of lives too short and truncating of possibilities but ignore the wealth of insight of those who have lived long and done much. That mirror is too heavy for us to hold.
Through Air & Water does just that. It explores the depths of Will Forman’s life experiences and draws a thread between the metaphors of his stories and the practice of his life. And it is this that I find fascinating and worth telling. My hope is to marry the verve of his youth as an aspiring Naval fighter pilot, through his years as a pilot of both fighter planes and submarines, on to how he approaches the end of his life as he lives to stay active and looks back over his 90 years to give us a perspective that by the time we reach it it will be too late to enact the wisdom that he can provide us.
Another exciting thing about documentary filmmaking, is that as well as the story may be planned out in advance there are variables that cannot be accounted for. The insight the subject has not thought of, the happenstances of attempting to capture a life during the moments of living it, and inspiration that has yet to strike. This film is no different. The more I work with Will the more I am able to see the threads that run through his life and weave them through the eyelets of his story to knit together the tapestry that Through Air & Water is becoming.