Tag: Confluence Films

Movie Review: “Connect” from Confluence Films

When a film combines exotic locales and hungry fish, you get fly fishing tourism. Weave in a carefully cultivated soundtrack, and it becomes entertainment. Examine not just angling culture, but that of the destinations, and you have documentary. Roll the story with superb cinematography and it borders on art.

Clearly these people hadn’t seen this type of activity going on before. You’ve got, you know, all this gear, you’ve traveled all this way to go over here, you’re going to fish. Of course the ultimate goal is to keep the fish. And when they release that fish the first time, these people were shocked. I think they were more blown away by that than the fact two Americans in funny looking outfits were actually in the water, fly-fishing.

– Jon Steihl, Drift, 2008

Combine all factors, while giving viewers a compelling reason to toss their smartphones in the can (after calling their friends to find out who’s pulling shuttle duty, of course) and you have the latest production from Confluence Films, “Connect.” It’s at once purposeful, beautiful, and an encore performance.

Jim Klug, Chris Patterson, and the rest of the Confluence Films crew have a job—provide a window into a world few of us will ever see, let alone fish. The end goal: leave you wanting to go on a fishing trip the moment their 90 minutes is up. The film does that, and then some.

Connect from Confluence Films

Greg Vincent adores Cuba, and visa versa

In classic Confluence fashion, “Connect” points the way to great fishing, while also giving the spectator reasons to be there that go far beyond rod and reel. One recurring theme, conservation, is sold not just as David v. Goliath, but as a necessity intertwined in the lifestyle of the guides, outfitters, and local population, all of whom view catch and release fly fishing as integral to their livelihoods. The narrative convinces you that the stars of the show depend on the sport, not just for tips they might earn as guides or even the fame they might garner from being on the silver screen, but to maintain now lifelong friendships developed specifically because of it.

Meanwhile, the fly fishing camera work is pushed to its limits—whether panning a pristine Japanese mountain stream from high above, chasing a just-released tarpon across a Cuban flat, or staring a tigerfish in the teeth, you are left asking “how did they do that?” while simultaneously wondering who was crazy enough to dive into a Tanzanian river. Yes, the underwater footage beats all, but there is plenty of topside action too—targeting permit as they bob and weave behind stingrays on white sand flats, the pike of the Yukon drainage pummeling poppers from every angle imaginable, and seemingly endless shots of the wildlife in the Yellowstone backcountry.

Connect from Confluence Films

“Aggressive” takes on new meaning with Jeff Currier’s beastly “warthog”

Spend too much time perfecting the writing, editing, and sound, and you could wind up with a bore. Thankfully, Confluence’s previous flicks pitch the idea that “we fly-fish because it’s fun,” and the concept is not lost with “Connect“ either. Rods double over, and reels scream. Anglers dance on the bows of boats, and guides mock their apparel choices. There are more than enough smiles, because there is plenty of catching, and quite a few laughs as well, thanks to a (very) lucky cast of characters.

I do just like to wander off by myself even in a guided situation because it’s nice just to have that time alone in a place. And once you get the hang of it, these guides are great, they’ll take you to the spot and point you in the right direction and show you the flies. Then you can just go and fish on your own a little bit. It’s pretty straightforward, pretty easy, and the fish are aggressive.

– Millie Paini, Rise, 2009

“Drift” and “Rise,” the first two films out of Bozeman, were released in autumn of 2008 and 2009, respectively. “Connect” took twice as long to assemble, and it shows in every aspect (including the massive quantities of beer and brats served up before the premier). Most of the show’s angler-cast joined the party, travelling from as far away as Tokyo to see the final product for the first time. They act like they are part of a family, which they are.

If it all seems to good to be true, then it probably is. The film is sort of like Confluence’s encore performance, at least in the genre of “adventure” video. The film-maker now has blueprints on productions outside the travel/multi-segment genre, so those that haven’t yet been there and done that (or already have plans to) might have a longer wait for the next show. But no matter—while you gaze at the screen, you’ll be forced to ask yourself if you are, right that moment, living the proverbial dream.

Fortunately, you’ve now got “Connect” to answer that question for you.

MG signing off (to dream about retrieving a fly from a tigerfish’s mouth with my bare hands)

Mom and Dad went to Bozeman, but all I got were these bags of ice

Silly me. I accepted this invitation to see the premier of Confluence Film’s latest, Connect. The folks from Yellow Dog Fly Fishing even offered to pick me up at the airport!

What gracious souls, I thought. Then they put me to work…

Confluence Films Connect

In return for their slight of hand hospitality, I drank all their beer. And watched their FFF (fly-fishing flick), which was, by the way, 100% over-the-top kick ass. I even scribed a review of said fishy blockbuster. Ha! They must have thought they could fool me, being from Colorado and all.

M.P. Harris: Hey Jim, this guy is a real piece of work. Can I drop him off at the airport early? Please!

Confluence Films Connect

Jim Klug: Did he unload the kegs yet? Not until he unloads the kegs!

MG signing off (because up until now, I always got the last laugh)

A moment of silence for redfish (UPDATED)

We interrupt this regularly scheduled broadcast to send our thoughts (to the guides) and prayers (for the redfish). And both, to every other creature living on the Gulf Coast, presently in the path of a very nasty oil slick.

The movie Rise, the second production from Confluence Films, highlighted the outstanding fishery that is Louisiana. A band of good folk were portrayed, happy that Hurricane Katrina had actually improved the fishery instead of destroying it.

I’ll remain optimistic about the most recent threat, based on comments from that film about the resiliency of the area. But it is difficult. Reason? We’re now being reminded of the Valdez spill, which happened in Alaska back in 1989. And it just so happens I know that spill quite well, having worked on a damage claim project related to it early in my career. There I crunched numbers provided by Alaska’s Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission – fish tickets, net statistics, boat sizes…you name it. Add pictures, and it gave me an intimate, if morbid, view to what went on.

A moment of silence is in order.

UPDATE: Here is NOAA’s forecast of oil slick movement (pdf) as of 4/28. And for those who aren’t familiar with the loop current mentioned in the comments, here’s an explanation from the University of Miami’s RSMAS.

Movie Review: Drift

movie-reelThis review was brought to you in no small part by the gentleman and scholar Pete McDonald (aka Fishing Jones), who gave his cherished passes to me so I could scalp them in front of the Denver Fly Fishing Retailers Convention and spend the money on a shot of 18 year-old Scotch and a few streamers attend.

It’s awfully hard to trounce a movie about fly fishing on this blog, primarily because just about anything related to the subject gets me worked up. If you show me big fish being caught on fly, in exotic locales using fine cinematographic skills, and don’t obviously and repeatedly plug your main sponsor, I’m going to give you a thumbs up. So I’ll come right out and say it – Drift (produced by Confluence Films) does it all right, and gets a thumbs up, five stars, or a 10 out of 10 (whichever you prefer). Quite simply, the movie rocked! If you are about to travel/fish and need a primer while sitting on the plane that will assuredly have you bouncing off cabin walls, this movie is it. But I’ll warn you, practice casting in a mid-flight Boeing is against FAA regulations.

I’m making this quick, because the DVD is a must have and I don’t want to be the spoiler…

The movie starts off at the Deschutes with spey casting to steelhead. “Fish beautiful water well” is the takeaway for steelie success. It moves on to Turneffe Flats and Punta Gorda, with exposes on permit and the Garbutt brothers. Winter follows, with a tour of one of my favorites, the Green River A-section, and then on to the Frying Pan and the Bighorn. Weather then subsides with a trip to Andros Island – you’ll hear some of Charlie Smith’s banjo playing, and a few reels singing to the sounds of bonefish. And for the finale, the crew travels to Kashmir, finding fat rainbows, professional ‘netters’ and a whole lotta paperwork.

drift-the-movieIt should come as no surprise to sports/action film buffs that Drift is a high quality production – the team that created it is top notch. Writer Tom Bie is the publisher and editor of The Drake magazine, one of the finest grassroots publications anywhere for the fly fishing enthusiast. Producer Jim Klug is another veteran of the fly fishing world – and ‘world’ indeed…he’s the founder of Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures, which puts fish in the freezer by organizing fly fishing trips from Costa Rica to Kamchatka and beyond. And last but certainly not least, there’s director Chris Patterson – if you find yourself feeling like you are watching the aquatic version of a Warren Miller snow flick, that’s because Chris spent 16 years working as a director/cinematographer for the famed ski movie magnate.

drift-stageI only have one beef with Drift, and it’s a doosie. The film spends a lot of time in Belize, with much of that showing off awfully beautiful permit struggling to shake loose the flies that the crew tossed at them. That Brian O’Keefe takes great photos, but he sure did irk me – I’ve been fly fishing for a heck of a long time and still don’t have a permit-on-fly to show for it – meanwhile this cat made it look oh so easy. Of course, Thomas McGuane spent a good portion of his life fly fishing (and writing about that journey), and only bagged a permit in the last chapter. I just can’t wait that long.

Nevertheless, I think someone in the crew knew I was there and that I was going to get upset when I saw the permit on screen, so before the film even got started they kept tossing me free stuff. Of course, us fly fishing folks are not so easily satisfied, so I am going to give the gear away and wait around for that invitation to Belize, compliments of the boys at Confluence, that I now feel I so justly deserve for all the pain and suffering I endured last night. Up for grabs are two ball caps, as pictured below:

drift-hat sharkskin-hat

We’ll do this fair and square – all you have to do is answer a few simple questions in the comment section, and it will be first come first serve (i.e. the first correct answers get a cap, and you can only answer one of the two questions). For the “Drift” cap, tell me what recently went down in the Belize legislature that is good for fly fishing; for the “Sharkskin” cap, tell me what’s going on in Kashmir that might make fly fishing tough there. If you are correct, I’ll email you for your mailing address (which also means you need to provide a valid email with your comment/answer).

Good luck, and get Drift.