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By Kristina Pritchett

The Ocean Institute’s vessels have been boarded by thousands of people over the years, but recently, the ships were taken over by a cast of pirates.

Arnon Shorr, an independent film maker, used the Dana Point landmark as background for his short-film The Pirate Captain Toledano.

The short film is about a Jewish stowaway who wants to become a pirate and to attack Spanish ships, Shorr said.

“I’ve been looking high and low and I haven’t found any examples [of this kind of film],” he said.

Shorr said he got his inspiration years ago when he was reading about Jewish pirates in the Caribbean and various illegal activities involved in the inquisition.

“I found it fascinating,” Shorr said. “And it sat in the back of my mind. … I tried to get back to work and it just nagged at me, and I ended up writing a five-page script.”

In order to get the movie rolling, Shorr said he and his production team created a crowd-sourcing page to receive donations.

“We met our goal a day before the campaign ended,” Shorr said. “We (had) enough to make the movie.”

Filming for the movie took place at the Ocean Institute aboard the Tall Ships, although Shorr said he’s not from the area and didn’t know about the ships until he researched them.

“I grew up on the East Coast,” Shorr said. “I didn’t know about the ships originally, but I knew about Dana Point. I Google searched for tall ships and there weren’t that many, and the Institute came up.”

Not only will the vessels look familiar to Dana Point residents, but Shorr said the Institute offered the crew the use of some of their costumes for the film.

Shorr said not everyone has been supportive of the film however.

“When we posted it publically, beyond my immediate circle, that’s when the responses started to be less supportive, less friendly, more anti-Semitic,” Shorr said. “Some of the stuff was anti-Israel. People can have a range of opinions; in this particular case, they saw our Facebook page and posted a meme that had nothing to do with Jews or pirates. It was an anti-Israel meme that did not make a policy argument.”

He said it was specifically targeted and did not make him feel comfortable.

“There’s another reason to tell this story, if the anti-Semitics are using it to inspire the hatred, the good guys need to start telling this story and reclaiming it,” Shorr said. “It gave me the extra energy to tell the story the best I can.”

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