Two fathers and three boys were celebrating high school graduation by sailing from San Francisco to Portland in their boat, Fat Chance. Thirty-five miles off the coast of Point Reyes, they were hit by a rogue wave. Two members of the crew washed overboard and one of the boys was killed. The remaining crew sailed without power for eleven hours back to the Bay Area and grounded Fat Chance on Rodeo Beach.
By chance, Finley came upon the boat and filmed it while a salvage boat appeared and two members of its team swam to shore, tethered Fat Chance and towed it back out to sea. Five years later, after researching the events surrounding Fat Chance's mysterious appearance on the beach, she conducted an interview with the crew.
The story of Fat Chance is interwoven in essay film format with facts about rogue waves and the father’s testimony of the power of the documentary footage to move the experience and memory of the tragedy from blame, to the acceptance of chance and forces beyond one's control.
Directed, filmed, written and edited by Jeanne C. Finley
In collaboration with Mel Day
Sound design and narration: Pamela Z
Fat Chance was originally conceived as a collaborative two-channel installation by Mel Day and Jeanne C. Finley. A work-in-progress was installed at the Headlands Center for the Arts in 2012 with the support of an Alumni New Works Award from the Headlands Center for the Arts.