I’ve been watching a group of young film makers carve their niche in the fly fishing world. It’s been fun to see the sport portrayed by the snowboard generation and violin soundtracks replaced by hard rock and hip hop.
I was particularly impressed by Felt Soul Media’s “Running Down the Man,” a crazy, anarchistic, and wildly entertaining film about catching roosterfish in Baja, Mexico.
Now the crew at Felt Soul Media has focused its lenses on Bristol Bay, Alaska with its new film, “Red Gold,” which is due to be released in the spring.
I’ve only seen the trailer, but it’s stunning in both its subject and its approach. They’ve creatively blended fish porn with National Geographic-style cinematography and environmental advocacy to create a piece so gorgeous and thought provoking that I am anticipating the full-length version with more excitement than I have for any of Hollywood’s offerings.
Here’s the basic story. Bristol Bay has one of the greatest remaining wild salmon runs in the world. It’s a place where rivers run red with millions of spawning sockeye salmon, which support a myriad of commercial, sport and Native American fisheries. A multi-national mining company wants to develop a huge open pit mine in the heart of Bristol Bay’s wild salmon habitat.
The film looks at the controversy surrounding the proposed Pebble Mine. It shows what’s at stake for Bristol Bay from an environmental standpoint, and uses a show-don’t-tell approach.
There’s awesome footage of streams filled bank to bank with tomato-red sockeyes and massive brown bears feeding on them (they don’t call them grizzlies on the Alaskan coast), as well as the native and white Alaskans fishing with everything from gillnets to Spey rods. The trailer alone feels like a movie, and it only lasts a few minutes. I am dying to see the rest of it.
I hope “Red Gold” does for Bristol Bay what “An Inconvenient Truth” did for global warming. But I admit I’m not wholly neutral on this issue, either.
I made my first trip to Alaska in 1981 as a wild-eyed 15-year-old. I was working on a salmon processing boat in Bristol Bay, and it was an experience that shaped my life.
I made six more trips to Alaska as a commercial fisherman, which put me through college, which got me started as an outdoor writer. So I feel in some small way, I have roots in Bristol Bay, and I owe it a great debt. It’s a place that should be protected.
But enough of my nostalgia. Take a look and decide for yourself.