Jennifer Brindley Ubl
“When I first started chasing in 1999, I was going into this environment with violent storms and mountain-sized objects to film — it was just such an adventure. I fell head over heels for these forces of nature and mind-blowing imagery. It was like two months of Christmas,” he gushes. “But when I had kids, it was torture. I was doing something I loved to do but missing them so much.”

Most spouses might consider chasing storms an unsettling occupation, but Jennifer says she respects Casey’s creative spirit and lifelong passion for filmmaking, as well as his commitment to their family.

“When Sean is home, he’s able to be a very active parent — driving the girls to school, playing with them, going on their field trips, etc.,” she says. “When he’s gone, the girls and I talk about what he’s doing and why, and the girls are now old enough to know that this is his job, it’s how we make a living and what an amazing job it is to have.”

So, what’s next for the self-admitted thrill-seeker? Recent Hurricane Sandy started a new IMAX-film idea percolating.

“Hurricanes don’t hit the U.S. that often, and what most people do is drive to where they think the storm will make landfall, then film until things get too intense and they have to retreat from the storm surge and find cover,” Casey explains.

Because it would be impossible to be on the open water during a hurricane, he says he is focused on the actual storm surge. He has sketched out plans for an aquatic version of his TIV, an amphibious Storm Surge Vehicle with wheels he estimates will weigh 12,000 to 14,000 pounds and that can travel at 40 to 50 knots. His plan is to take it via trailer to the Florida Keys or somewhere along the U.S. Gulf Coast, then launch it and motor into a hurricane’s path to operate in its storm surge.

“If you build the right boat that’s maneuverable, you could be in the surge right when the storm comes onshore. That’s when you’re going to get the best footage, and you may even be able to get a second intercept somewhere else,” Casey says.

He’s close to finding a partner to construct the vehicle. Because it takes about two and a half years to make an IMAX film, he says he’d like to be out filming during the 2013 hurricane season. When asked if the endeavor is more about making a good film or being the first to do something, Casey says it’s a little of both, then clarifies: “But for me, it really goes back to that hunter-gatherer thing. How do you kill the mammoth? It’s a lot bigger than us and it’s kind of scary, but it’s also got a lot of meat that will feed the tribe. It’s problem-solving, just on a larger scale.”

With that, he picks up a few fallen branches from the yard and piles them near the tent for a bonfire with his girls.



IN MEMORIAM
American Way dedicates this story to Tim Samaras, Carl Young (both of whom appeared on Storm Chasers) and Paul Samaras (Tim’s son), all of whom passed away on May 31, 2013, while doing what they loved: chasing storms.