Not Waving But Drowning, a film about a teenager from Bartow who longs to flee Florida, was ironically written and directed by a Florida native who was happy to return back home. “It’s strange and odd. I really want to come home and spend time with my family,” says filmmaker Devyn Waitt.
Waitt now lives in New York but was happy to do this movie in Florida, working with a number of cohorts from the Florida State University film program and getting a largely Floridian crew.As for the protagonist of her film’s feelings on the Sunshine State? “She just doesn’t know,” Waitt says.
Of course, like many who grew up in Florida, there was a time when Waitt thought a brighter world existed north of the Panhandle. But she concluded long ago that the Gulf Coast has it over most anywhere else. The Oldsmar girl still recalls her first trip to Greece, where people directed her toward a world-famous place to watch to sunset. It just made her homesick. “I thought Tampa Road and U.S. 19 has this beat,” she said. “But people who grew up here have a hard time realizing what type of paradise this really is.”
Waitt was in town for the world premiere Monday and will be at a second screening today at 5pm. Producer Nicole Emanuele, who went to FSU with Waitt, is also in town and says Florida proved a remarkable place to film. “Coming from New York, there was a real feeling of welcoming to us while we were filming here,” says Emanuele.
The next stop for Not Waving will be a film festival in Paris. Waitt already has a hatbox suitcase picked out for the trip.And if you want, the filmmakers are asking people to like the film on Facebook.