Letters in the Sand

About the Film

Letters in the Sand was created as my final project in the Mediaworks program in 2009. In this project I wanted to practice all of the skills that I had learned throughout the program. In Mediaworks we had studied autobiographical documentary and avant-garde film techniques, as well as approaches to using film as a medium of social activism. While I was drawn to autobiographical video essay, I felt that it would be too "selfish" to make a film that was simply about myself. For this project, I wanted to frame my autobiographical experience in the context of greater transpersonal concerns about the modern relationship between the individual and society. As an autobiographical activist, I wanted to offer a challenge to the conventional notions of sociality, however I lacked the confidence (or the arrogance, as you might see it) to make such a challenge in my own voice. Instead, I chose to use a surrogate narrator, in order to both distance myself from message, but also to free the message from the limitations of my own identity. I was particularly inspired by Chris Marker's 1982 film Sans Soleil, a feature-lenght pseudo-autobiographical film essay built on techniques of surrogate narration, symbolic imagery, and stylized editing. I incorporated these techniques into my own video essay.

Letters in the Sand was shot on location in Los Angeles, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; Death Valley National Park, CA; and Olympia, WA; in a combination of HD & SD video. The narration was provided by Jhaleh Akhavan and recorded in Olympia, WA.

Letters in the Sand was created as part of director Jeremy Sarka's coursework in the Mediaworks in Context program at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.

About the Director

Jeremy Sarka always wanted to tell stories. He studied film in college and produced a well-regarded autobiographical short film. However, after college he opted for a safer career course in the technology industry. Now he has returned to film to recover his love of storytelling.


2009, HD & SD Video, Color, 9 min. Narrated by Jhaleh Akhavan.