Salt Sisters

Project type: Nonfiction Feature
Project status: Complete
Director: Heidi Burkey
Producer: Julie Hook
Underwater Photography: Jenny Adler

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Off the coast of Maine, America’s addiction and environmental crises meet at a crossroads. Female lobsterman Colleen Francke leads a team of women in recovery from alcohol and drug use disorder as they work to create a burgeoning seaweed farm that doubles as Maine’s first all-female sober work program. The Salt Sisters will discover what it takes to lead Maine into a new coastal economy – rehabilitating both the water and themselves along the way.


Salt Sisters is an intimate and revealing portrait of Colleen and her trio of sea farmers as they work over the course of the next two years to seed, grow, maintain, and harvest kelp to sell to a burgeoning market. In addition to witnessing the laborious yet beautiful task of hauling behemoth lines of seaweed out of the unpredictable ocean, we spend time with the women off the boat – at home, in recovery houses, and in meetings where they create an intentional community of accountability and support. With full access granted by all four women, we will witness their coinciding journeys to turn the farm into a successful venture and to establish a safe space to continue their recovery with powerful friends at their side

Meet the Filmmakers

Heidi Burkey — Director
Based in Los Angeles, Heidi Burkey is a documentary director committed to elevating stories that explore social, political and environmental issues through the lens of the human experience. With over 13 years of experience working as a documentary director and producer, she has distributed her work on Netflix, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Fusion TV, and DirectTV. Heidi’s debut feature documentary, Jedi Junior High, was distributed on SVOD by Mar Vista Entertainment in 2015. In 2018, she directed a six-part TV documentary series called, The Pitch, which aired on AT&T’s The Audience Network. As a Producer for Fusion’s Digital Documentary team, she produced a 30 minute primetime special that aired on Fusion TV and 5 documentary short films that collectively garnered over 400K views on Fusion’s YouTube channel. Heidi is a member of Film Fatales, Women in Moving Pictures, The Video Consortium, and the IDA.

Julie Hook — Producer
After graduating from Emerson College with a BFA in Film Production, Julie Hook began her career producing short films and commercials for numerous A-list production companies, including Anonymous Content, Prettybird and Epoch Films. Julie worked alongside veteran producer Sarah Green on notable feature films such as Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special and Loving and Terrence Malick’s IMAX documentary Voyage of Time. Julie was an Associate Producer on HBO Films’ Emmy-nominated & Golden Globe winning adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, written and directed by Ramin Bahrani. In 2017, Julie was selected for the competitive Film Independent Producing Lab program, along with six other producers. Julie was the Production Manager on the Amazon documentary series, Lorena which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. In addition to Salt Sisters, Julie is currently producing a Netflix documentary series on love & companionship.

Jenny Adler — Underwater Photography
Jenny Adler is a conservation photographer and National Geographic Explorer. Her work as a photojournalist is informed by her scientific background, and she uses her imagery to communicate science and conservation. She holds a degree in marine biology from Brown University and a PhD in interdisciplinary ecology from the University of Florida. She specializes in underwater photography and science communication. Her grant-funded and assignment work has taken her all over the world to document science and conservation, including two recent assignments for The Nature Conservancy. An ongoing theme in her work is the connection between people and water in a changing climate, which began with her photography and research focused on Florida’s freshwater springs and aquifer. Jenny is a freelance photojournalist based in Florida, USA, and is represented by National Geographic Image Collection.


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