Filmmaker Thyrone Tommy tells the story of Nate Russell, a marine navigation student who suffers from severe anxiety.
Nate wakes up from a nightmare — a flashback when he nearly drowned as a child. Books surrounding him. It’s finals week and he’s studied through the night.
He reads a text from Hannah, who wishes him luck, and he showers, jumps on his motorcycle and heads to the academy.
Before his advanced navigation exam begins, his anxiety grows. He looks around and classmates give him a nod of reassurance. He unrolls his maps and starts.
Next is the simulator. He quickly takes some medication to calm down. The stress is high as instructors watch his every move.
He sets the ship’s course and begins to take her out to sea. But then, another boat suddenly drifts in the path. Nate quickly orders the thrusters to change course, making a daring pivot to avoid a collision.
Afterwards, the instructor criticizes Nate’s dangerous maneuver. He reminds Nate that the clearance is 500-feet, not 380. But Nate is defiant. When Nate asks if that was his only mistake, the instructor tells him the mistake was the only one he needed. He’s failed.
Nate meets his classmates by the pool and they ask if he aced the exams. He doesn’t give a straight answer and they assume so, asking where he’ll be posted. Nate says he doesn’t know yet.
Nate steps aside to take a call. It’s Kathleen, the head of student placement. She heard Nate failed the simulation and wants to give him a second chance. Passing him, she explains, gives their ranks more diversity, allowing them to forge a stronger relationship with Pacific Towing.
He’ll retake the simulator the next day.
Nate rejoins his classmates for sea survival class. They suit up and jump into the pool. As he hits the water, he flashes back to his near-death experience. The anxiety begins to cripple him, but manages to swim to the surface for his classmates to pull him into the safety raft.
They get out of the pool for CPR training. But Nate doesn’t pay attention. He’s still shaken.
Back at the dorm, Nate studies to retake the exam. But his classmates burst in and pull him aside. They shave his head, then dance and celebrate the end of their exams. Nate escapes to his room to study, but Hannah walks in.
As she smokes, she asks Nate where he’s posted. After some pushing, he finally admits it’s Pacific Towing. She’s impressed.
The tension builds and they get intimate. But a sudden spike in blood pressure causes him to bleed from the nose and pass out. The next morning, he gets ready for his exam, he reflects on his anxiety.
Nate starts the simulation without taking medication. He hurriedly charts the ship’s path and sets her course. As pressure mounts, he begins to lose control. Frustrated, he starts shouting in front of his instructor.
He calms down. But he’s failed again.
Then, the instructor asks Nate if he’s ready to take the exam again.
“The film is based on my own time as a marine navigation cadet in college,” Tommy said. “I attended school in 2010, and it was one of the most vigorous and tense experiences of my life.”
“I really wanted people to feel the anxiousness and anxieties, I felt during that period of time,” he added. “The pressures of success, race and expectations can be heavy on you. Hopefully people feel that as well here.”
He faces his fears at 8:39… but cracks at 16:39…