Lights. Camera. Action. Yachties often cater to actors around the world aboard the super and mega yachts they crew. But for one night, these yachties become stars. For seven years they have been creating short films for the Fort Yachtie Da International Film Festival produced by Crew Unlimited in Fort Lauderdale. Crews compete for cash prizes and the coveted “Oscar Fish” along with bragging rights for the remainder of the year. After last year’s hits such as Wrecked my Career and Sunday Funday, fans can’t wait to view and vote on this year’s films.
Crew Unlimited is the oldest yacht crew placement agency in the world. Their clients are super and mega yacht owners, yacht charter customers and the crew members supporting these larger than life vessels. President/Owner, Ami G. Ira has been with Crew Unlimited since 1993. She is passionate about the service the agency provides its customers. The very clear mission is to improve the level of service offered by treating people with care and empathy. The “Golden Rule” mentality has been key to the company’s growth and success under her leadership.
Searching for a venue in which to host a client appreciation event, Ira visited the Cinema Paradiso, an Art Deco style cinema, home for many years of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. “Walking through the theater, we were brainstorming about what we could do there,” Ira said. “But once inside, in front of the huge cinema screen, the idea came to us immediately – do something the industry has never done before, host our own yachting industry film festival!”
In 2008, the Fort Yachtie Da International Film Festival was born. Ira continues, “We decided to make it into a contest, so that the crew would have a creative outlet, and have an incentive to work hard and collaborate together. The crew that plays together, stays together!”
Crews write, produce and star in a five-minute film, competing for cash prizes and an authentic hand-beaten stainless steel “Oscar Fish” designed by Ira. Categories include: Comedy, Action, Yachtie Lifestyle, Best Male Actor, Best Female Actor, Best Production Quality, and Best Original Screenplay. Since 2008, 172 videos have been received with over 2600 views and votes. “We love seeing the creative talents of the crew, and look forward to hosting it for years to come,” says Ira.
Last year, competition was stiff in all categories. Wrecked my Career, produced by Andy Lauer, featured crew member Whitney singing about the reality show Below Deck aboard M/Y Honor. Movie goers recognized the tune immediately as Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball. Best Picture went to Pegasus V for their Last of the Mojitos, the action packed thriller that received 1300 votes.
Entries should be uploaded to the event website by October 1, 2014. Online voting takes place October 2 through November 3, 2014 with winners announced at an “Oscar-style” party at the Cinema Paradiso November 15. Nominees walk the red carpet and are interviewed by “Joan Rivers,” before sitting back to watch all of the films before winners are announced. The evening doesn’t end after the acceptance speeches. A silent auction raises money for one for the many charities dear to Crew Unlimited. This year that charity is Marine Industry Cares, helping children in distress.
If you see one of these film stars at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, ask for an autograph and tell the star you saw what he or she did last year at Fort Yachtie Da. www.fortyachtieda.com.