SITKA - Sitka might not be the first place you think of for videography and filmmaking. But it's exactly where Mary Goddard wants to be.
Mary Goddard - Sitka filmmaker 112013 AE 1 Capital City Weekly SITKA - Sitka might not be the first place you think of for videography and filmmaking. But it's exactly where Mary Goddard wants to be.

Mary Goddard stands beside a Coast Guard helicopter. She films for Coast Guard Alaska out of Sitka. She has to be ready to go at a moment's notice.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Story last updated at 11/20/2013 - 5:15 pm

Mary Goddard - Sitka filmmaker

SITKA - Sitka might not be the first place you think of for videography and filmmaking. But it's exactly where Mary Goddard wants to be.

Goddard is a videographer for Coast Guard Alaska, a show produced by Al Roker and aired on the Weather Channel. Goddard is one of three on the Sitka team, filming Coast Guard rescues. The show is also filmed out of Kodiak.

"You just never know what you're going to see... it's definitely an adrenaline rush," Goddard said. "Every single time it's a different experience."

The summer was so busy, she'd sometimes go out on two cases the same day.

Goddard's filmed the Medevac of a 15-month-old and of a man who survived a heart attack, something she describes as "kind of a miracle." She films searches for missing people. And she has to gain the trust not only of the men and women in the Coast Guard, whom she films every day, but of people undergoing traumatic experiences.

"This job is really unique in the fact that we have filmed people who didn't necessarily sign up," Goddard said. "You have to get them comfortable with cameras when they didn't necessarily audition for a part."

Born in Yakutat, Goddard moved to New York for a degree from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA).

At first, she had a hard time getting used to New York - both because of the quality of the air compared to Alaska, and because of the sudden change in culture.

"Everyone spoke a different language. That was frustrating, but it was fun, and a good challenge," she said.

After graduating, trained in acting, she moved to places as varied as Florida, Hawaii, Germany, Tennessee and Alabama.

In Florida, Goddard had friends working at Full Sail University, teaching classes in directing, film, sound, and lighting. It was through helping them with their projects that she first got interested in being on the other side of the camera.

Goddard's biggest advice to others is not to wait "until something's perfect, or you feel comfortable doing it." A large part of the learning process, she said, is simply doing.

"By doing it, you'll improve and get better, but if you wait for it to be perfect, it's never going to happen," she said.

She's worked on films like "Fireproof," "October Baby," and "Race Car." Goddard also worked on season four of "Lost," for which she was in Hawaii.

Several of the movies on which she's worked are Christian.

"I always wanted to do something with a purpose," Goddard said. "If you do something, it should maybe make the world a little better... I just wanted to make good quality (work) and something that had a good message."

Her "compassionate and giving" parents taught her and her siblings that "it's always about helping people," she said.

In addition to her work with film and television, Goddard designs jewelry involving materials like silver, spruce root, porcupine quills, and baleen. She is Tlingit, and her mother is Jennie Wheeler, a master artist and basket weaver from Yakutat.

Goddard is also a board member for the Fine Arts camp in Sitka, and she's a member of the Blue Canoe writers' group and Creative Collision, a group of artists that use a variety of mediums.

A self-described "project person," Goddard said she loves seeing a project from start to finish. She also enjoys the pre-production - planning - end of things, and would love to eventually have her own production company.

"I don't want to be a one-woman show," Goddard said. "I would like to do each aspect, but I would rather work with a crew and be a part of a team."

She's been writing down her goals and working toward achieving them for years, she said.

"You definitely grow from each one," Goddard said. "Each time you do something... whether it's a success or doesn't turn out the way you think, you always learn something. Each time, you're trying to do something a little smarter, a little better. That's what I think is important - always learning."

Find out more about Goddard, and see previews from the films and shows she's worked on, at

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