Behind the scenes of PaceDocs’ ‘Tide to Table: The Remarkable Journey of Oysters’


Screen Grab from documentary, “Tide to Table: The Remarkable Journey of Oysters”

Giselle Berents, Contributor

On Sept. 18, PaceDocs brought home a win from the Williamsburg International Film & Music Competition for their student documentary “Tide to Table: The Remarkable Journey of Oysters.” The short film is about the making of oysters, and how they’re sold and shelved in restaurants. The team went off to New York, Connecticut and Cape Cod, Massachusetts to inquire about different oyster companies and those involved in the oyster industry. The documentary serves as a connection between the oyster world and others who don’t necessarily understand what goes on behind the scenes of one of their favorite delicacies.

PaceDocs is made up of a group of students who are enrolled in the documentary film course, led by Professors Maria Luskay and Professor Lou Guarneri. These professors and students had a specific job to do in order to bring this film to life.

Adam Ng, a senior at the University’s Pleasantville campus majoring in Digital Cinema and Filmmaking. He shared what it was like working on set and playing a major role in editing, filming and more. 

This documentary came about via the idea of a professor Ng had who is based in Cape Cod. “She’s friends with an oyster farmer. He invited her out to the flats–so she went and that’s what inspired her.” Ng said. “It’s about the lives of the farmers, we just don’t see that; we only see the end product of the oysters.”

The documentary premiered at different movie theaters in Cape Cod and went on to win prestigious awards as well, including Best Student Documentary Short Film. With the beautiful execution of the film, it makes sense that people would be captivated by something that isn’t usually talked about. 

Screening this documentary was extremely important to this class and all of the filmmaking majors as it highlighted their work and puts the time and effort that went into producing out there. Upon winning awards at the Williamsburg competition, Ng describes the experience as an online film festival that he and the other students entered. Once their professors, Luskay and Guarneri, told them the news, the entire crew was able to celebrate this major accomplishment toward all their efforts. 

With “Tide to Table” in particular, the team split up in different places on the East Coast to get plenty of shots with the time that they had. “To edit a whole documentary in a month and a half is kind of insane,” Ng said, expressing how this contributed to the challenge of producing and making the film. 

What goes on behind the scenes of a film can make or break the entire work. Sometimes when shooting, it was difficult to work out all the details, like finding the right time to interview people and getting the lighting right. “In production, they say it doesn’t always go the way we want it to go,” Ng noted on the process. 

The documentary itself is particularly intriguing as its eye-opening nature adds to the rigor of the film. When asked about what Ng was most proud of, he said it was getting to see himself tangibly recognized in the end credits.

“Tide to Table” having this kind of success and uncovering so many accomplishments has been a surreal experience for the entire crew who worked on it, and it will be remembered throughout the University’s history. “Tide to Table: The Remarkable Journey of Oysters” is more than a documentary about oysters, but is about the people in and behind this project to create something unique. 

For students looking to support the film, “Tide to Table” is available to watch on YouTube, or you can catch it at one of the screenings for Mystic Seaport Museum’s Riverfest from Oct. 8 to 10. For more information on the process and where to watch it, please see the University’s press release.