Rich Schineller Hopes ‘Big Pass Piano’ Saves Siesta Sands

Can a piano performance of a Beatles song change the politics of beach renourishment in Sarasota County? A new music video produced by Sarasota filmmaker Rich Schineller seeks to find out.

A new video featuring singer Maria Lane performing “Let It Be” on an organ at the beach seeks to reshape the debate about dredging Big Pass. Working entirely with a crew and talent who donated their time, the video cuts between shots of Lane performing the song, overhead sights of the pass and facts about the history of the region and plans to dredge the sand.

“We’re just looking to raise awareness throughout the community for the potential risks and damage that could come,” Schineller said. “We are basically risking one beach to aid another.”

Schineller has been active with Save Our Siesta Sands 2, the group lobbying government officials about the dredging plans. They are concerned about a negotiation between the City of Sarasota and the Army Corps of Engineers that would allow sands at Big Pass to be dredged over the next 50 years to renourish beaches on Lido Key. The SOSS2 organization fears the dredging could create permanent damage to the region’s top tourist attraction.

“Big Pass has never been dredged, which is the reason it functions well,” reads the SOSS2 website. “Look at New Pass to the north of Lido Key, and the fact that it must be dredged every few years.  Look at similar projects that the ACE has completed that is similar to this project.  The fact that New Pass continues to need dredging is due to the mining process that was started many years ago.”

Schineller, previously a videographer for MTV, recruited family and friends to help with the video. Lane, his niece, is a professional recording artist now living in New York and studied music at Columbia University and The Julliard School. Jimmy Scott, Jr. served as cinematographer and editor, with aerial shots done with a camera drone loaned and operated by Ryan Perrone with post production supervision by Becca Dahmen. Other crew included Sarah Fulton, John Lichtenstein, Mike Hagan, Gary McDermott and Diane Schineller Sulimirski.

The entire production was done in a single day (the music was previously recorded in a New York studio by Lane). Schineller intentionally scheduled the shoot during a new moon so the tide would be low, and Lane is filmed playing an old Hammond organ floating out to the sandbar on paddleboards provided by SUP Sarasota.

Besides the hard facts interspersed in the video, the film most notably furthers the cause by showing the significance of the sand by the shallow waters. While much of the footage of Siesta publicized around the world focuses on the sandy beach above the water level, this films over the clear waters above a notable sandbar.

“The idea was to show the alluvial flow, and the sand that the tidal water flows out and back in to the Bay and down the coast,” Schineller says. “The shoal also protects the north end of Siesta from erosion.”

SOSS2 says the inlet is one of the last natural inlet along the coast of Florida, and the video shows charts dating back to the 1800s which map out the pass.

Schineller said he understands Lido needs renourishment, but other already dredged passes would provide a better source of sand. He notes New Pass is so shallow it often creates problems for boat traffic, and while that issue may be attributable to dredging done there before, it would likely help that pass to be dredged while Big Pass could introduce a significant risk to all of Siesta Key.

The song choice, Schineller said is simple. “We wanted the right song to communicate this vital message about Big Pass, and that is to please just ‘let it be.’ ”



3 thoughts on “Rich Schineller Hopes ‘Big Pass Piano’ Saves Siesta Sands”

  1. Big Pass has been continually dredged and adjusted by man since the 1950’s

    Historical data show that the channel at Big Sarasota Pass has migrated to the south throughout its known history (figure 8). As a consequence, various types of stabilization were constructed on the south side of the inlet beginning in the 1950s. These structures have been successful in maintaining the channel position.



    1. Hi Jack,
      The Big Pass inlet hasn’t been dredged, but Sarasota Bay and what is now the ICW has been by developers(Ringling) and the Army Corp Engineers .
      The inlet moves but has always been open. The shoreline hardening occurred before we had our wits in place. we now have governance here that prevents repetition of any like that in new locations . If only the mangrove that ringed our Siesta Key on the Pass had been retained. We must s allow the remaining natural ephemeral pass be as it is; wandering, growing seagrass, supporting birds and Manatee. If we allow a deep yacht ready channel to be dredged, we will never see the Manatee crossing over to the shallow Siesta shorelines to mate, the birds feeding as the tide changes in the pass, the rustic shoreline of south Lido Park .Plenty of navigation channels for big boats to enjoy fast trips to the Gulf.
      Let’s keep our big blue Pass, singing its own song.

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