Mare Island Adventure | Skillshare Projects



Mare Island Adventure

Three Ideas


One hot summer day I took a bunch of dogs, my own and a neighbor’s out for a little walk on the waterfront on Mare Island, the old Naval base near Vallejo, Ca that had been shut down for years and was now usually deserted. Suddenly I saw an Animal control truck pull up at the far end of the waterfront near my pick-up and start looking around, I knew if they spotted us I was probably in for some heavy fines, so we ducked into a huge ship building warehouse and had to lay low while the officers searched the area, it was quite a harrowing adventure in a visually wonderful setting.


One Friday night when I was 12 or 13, I was staying over at my friend Jim’s house and his mother offered to take us to the movies, we had seen a triple bill at a theatre in Sunnyvale, CA of all the James Bond films that had been released up till then, Dr. No, Goldfinger, and From Russia with Love. She would drop us off and when we were ready to come home we would give her a call. We sat through the first two, but then got restless and started hanging around the streets outside the theatre, just goofing around.

In those days Sunnyvale was still a very agricultural economy, but was “in transition” as they say and one of the old canning plants, Del Monte, was shut down across the railroad tracks from downtown; we ended up there, throwing rocks at windows and trying to get into buildings, when we stumbled upon a group of about a dozen transients, “hobos” in the vernacular of the times, around a campfire passing a bottle and waiting for a train to Bakersfield for some fruit picking work. We spent one of the most memorable evenings of my childhood hanging out with these guys listening to stories until we called Jim’s mom and went home.


Back when the San Francisco Giants still played at Candlestick, in the middle of July they had a weekend series with the St. Louis Cardinals and my brother, Mike, and I had tickets to all three games. I decided that rather than go home every night I would rent a spot in an R.V. park that was across the way and put my pick-up truck in it, I could sleep in the bed and just walk to the game each day. Mike thought this was a great idea and he met me there on Friday night.

Without going into too much detail, we had quite an adventurous weekend that involved walking around a deserted Candlestick at 2 am and a run in with a bunch of local tough guys who claimed to be “Security”.

When I started this class, over a year ago, I was in the middle of an MBA program at Colorado State and thought, like an idiot, that I could knock this off in my spare time. During that time all I got done was to keep playing with the three story ideas in the back of my mind, but I could not come up with a satisfying paradigm arc for any one idea. I finally decided to combine two of the ideas into one adventure--a young boy out walking with some neighborhood dogs. The one element that I couldn’t let go of was the Mare Island Naval Yards as a back drop, even as a secondary character of the story. As I mentioned, I am very familiar with this location and did a good deal of research and investigation of the abandoned buildings on the waterfront.

My next problem was that the story kept growing out of control as I worked on it, requiring me to edit everything back down to a manageable form while keeping a clear, engaging storyline as Mr. Matsuda discussed. I did some character studies and thumbnails, the story as of now will require some dialog (I’ve toyed with the idea of allowing the dogs to talk, I’m not sure). The whole project remains pretty fluid, I change my mind about it every day, but here is the gist:

Danny, lives in the new homes developed on Mare Island, near the Naval Base closed down in 1986 (est. 1850).

One morning he leaves home with Buddy, his dog. His parents warn him about going to the Mare Island waterfront “if the animal control people catch you they will give us a ticket, they warned us before.”

As he walks he meets two other dogs, Leon and Rusty, neighborhood regulars.

They wander closer to the forbidden region, fascinated by war memorials and historic ships.

Danny sees animal control and hides in abandoned factory building.

They begin to explore again, among historic buildings and detritus.

Encounter homeless men, veterans who befriend them.

Animal control come looking, the men help them hide.

Animal control leaves, the men say goodbye to Danny and the dogs.

Danny and the dogs head home with a new perspective.

I’m new to the unique set up of Skillshare, but it seems that these classes have no final ending date, so I’m going to post my work, even at this ridiculously late date. I’m sure most folks have moved on to other things, I don’t even know if the instructor is still paying attention, but if anyone cares to offer advice or critique, I certainly welcome it.



Here is my first pass, rather than upload a bunch of frames, I combined them into a GIF.


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