Before he was the master director he would become in a few short years, Stanley Kubrick embodied the essence of indie filmmaking, and at a time when indie filmmaking wasn't even really a thing. The same year he shot his first feature, Fear and Desire, he filmed the last of the few short documentaries he produced in his early 20s, and now its available to watch on IndieFlix, an independent film viewing and distribution platform. Hit the jump to learn about the master director's early years and where you can watch The Seafarers.
As a child in the Bronx in the 1930s, Stanley Kubrick was fascinated by photography, building a darkroom at home and learning through trips to the library and trial and error. He got pretty good, and soon found himself selling photos to local papers.
When he was 17, a photo he took of a sad newspaper vendor on the day of President Roosevelt's death was published nationally, and at 18 he earned a job at Look magazine, at the time a national magazine with high distribution, where it was almost unheard of for teenagers to land staff positions (some of his early photos can be viewed here.) Needless to say, he didn't attend much high school. Kubrick later told an interviewer:
I’d had my job with Look since I was seventeen, and I’d always been interested in films, but it never actually occurred to me to make a film on my own until I had a talk with a friend from high school, Alex Singer, who wanted to be a director himself.
Singer worked for The March of Time, a newsreel company, and Kubrick thought he could produce a short for much less than the company was paying other directors. Keep in mind that this was the early 1950s, when there were limited resources for independent filmmakers -- only a few academic film programs, that, with his grades, he did not qualify for. Most filmmakers still cut their teeth through apprenticeship, but Kubrick was already a professional.
He started calling rental houses, film labs and suppliers, and raising the money himself, he produced his first documentary, Day of the Fight, a sixteen-minute documentary about a boxer getting ready for a match that was inspired by a photo piece for he'd done for Look two years earlier (it is commercially unavailable today.)
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOot3_c87j0
Of his documentary experience, Kubrick would later say,
I was cameraman, director, editor, assistant editor, sound effects man–you name it, I did it. It was invaluable experience, because being forced to do everything myself I gained a sound and comprehensive grasp of all the technical aspects of filmmaking.
After selling the documentary to March of Time, Kubrick made two more documentaries, The Flying Padres and The Seafarers, a 28-minute film made for the Seafarer's International Union, now available to watch on IndieFlix, a website featuring indie films of all lengths available for streaming.
In addition to new indie films, IndieFlix also features old and hard to find movies, such as The Seafarers, which was unavailable for decades. This new version is remastered and notable for several reasons: it was Kubrick's first color film, it features an extended sideways dolly shot (one of his later trademarks, just as Day of the Fight features a reverse dolly,) and the proceeds allowed him to shoot Fear and Desire, his first feature, later that year.
You can watch the trailer for The Searfarers here, and the full film by signing up for an IndieFlix account for $6.99 a month, or $69 a year. IndieFlix offers many great titles, and this short is required viewing for fans of Kubrick.
What do you think of The Seafarers? Can you detect hints of Kubrick's later style in the film? Let us know!