March 22, 2014 | posted in Documentaries
Casey O’Brien isn’t an actor. He isn’t a producer, director or writer, either. He just happened to be in Antarctica when photographer Anthony Powell was looking for cast members for his documentary film “Antarctica: A Year on Ice.”
O’Brien graduated from college in May 2006 with no thoughts of what to do next. He took a gamble and flew out to Colorado for a job fair and unexpectedly secured a job with The Raytheon Company, “a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, security and civil markets throughout the world.”
“I was basically working in a warehouse,” says O’Brien. When asked about his daily schedule he laughs. “My day to day was cold and backbreaking”
In Antarctica, O’Brien worked on McMurdo Station, one of three American bases on the continent. The station is operated through a branch of the National Science Foundation called the United States Antarctic Program.
McMurdo is by far the largest station on the continent, housing approximately 1,200 people in summer months and around 125 people throughout the winter. O’Brien spent August 2007 through October 2008 on McMurdo, splitting his twenty month contract between six-months and fourteen-month stints.
The film sheds light on the people working on McMurdo station.
“The title does kind of say what it [the film] is about,” says O’Brien. “It starts in August and chronicles a set of people’s lives and wildlife through time lapse photography.”
O’Brien affectionately refers to Powell as ‘Ants’ whom he says, “put up a flier and it said ‘if you want to be part of a movie call me.’”
“I worked sixty hours a week, 7am to 6pm, six days a week,” O’Brien says. “The allure of Antarctica fades, especially if you’re there for fourteen months. I would love to go back, but by the end of it, I was ready to go.”
The film is not all about the station, like O’Brien says, “it is about the film work Ants [Powell] does. If you watch it, you’ll learn.”
O’Brien continues, “It’s pretty humbling to be on the ice. It gives you a sense of your place in the world when you go to a place like that.” he pauses and says, “You know, one person in the world is pretty insignificant when you compare them to something like Antarctica.”
— Molly Drake
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