We are excited to release our next feature in the “Behind the Lens” blog series presented by The Fly Fishing Film Tour. We will be conducting behind the scenes interviews with all of the filmmakers in this years film tour. Make sure to check out the F3T website, to see when they will be in your town! Get your tickets before they sell out!
Flylords: Tell me about the film Landsick
Matt: There wouldn’t be a movie without the subject, Chuck Ragan. A lifelong touring musician and licensed captain from California crflyfishing.com. The premise of the film was to follow him around and to just see what happens… The story emerged from that; his decision between touring full-time, guiding, or both. Anyone that has been “around’ realizes life isn’t black or white, it kind of exists somewhere in-between. He is at a crossroads with these roles in his life.
Flylords: Where did the name Landsick originate?
Matt: The name came from Chuck… As far as I know, it’s not technically a real English word. What it means to him is the yearning to be on the water when he is on land. It is also a title for one of his songs on his latest album, The Flame In the Flood.
Flylords: What was it like filming alongside a musician?
Matt: It was chaos… It translates into the film that nothing was set-up, I was just along for the ride. This was challenging as a filmmaker because we fished between Chuck’s gigs and he would plan tours around times appropriate for whatever species we targeted. We were on the timeline of a professional musician, so we had to be at certain places for loading and sound check. The second musician, Todd Beene, who was with us always tried to keep everyone on task when things got wild. In all, everything was really free form and at the end of everything, there was just a massive amount of footage.
Flylords: What were the major influences in starting this project?
Matt: The project began over beers, cold fried chicken (protip: greatest trout-snack), and a drift boat. Myself, Peter Vandergrift, and Chuck all ended up in a drift boat in Montana around April of 2016 during a skwalla hatch. This was when I first met Chuck, he literally drove all night from Alberta, BC after doing a show. He then slept at the take-out for an hour until we picked him up to go back up to the put-in. During the trip, we kind of just had a conversation where Chuck brought about the idea. He was thinking about it for a while, but it never took off. I think we had this instant bond, the kind typically reserved for childhood friends, not to mention I am a guide and fisherman as well as a filmmaker so I think he knew I could hold my own on the road.
Flylords: Can you highlight a special moment when shooting this film?
Matt: There is a “Golden Curtain” scene, as it was later dubbed, about halfway through the film… We were doing a sound check in Brooklyn, New York for his song “On the Bow.” It was a routine moment for everyone on stage, so I barely remember it due to the whirlwind of events. It wasn’t until I got back to Missoula, Montana and I looked at the footage, that I realized the raw talent Chuck has that is showcased in that scene. It was crazy how we were up until 4 AM and here he is, up there just ripping it. That was truly a raw and special moment for me in the film and one that is difficult to ignore.
Flylords: Can you tell us about the locations you filmed at?
Matt: We started in Michigan outside of Detroit fishing for smallmouth bass with a guide named Mike Schultz. Next, we fish up and down Long Island for stripers with John Paduano because of his tours in New York and New Jersey. Then finished in the California Delta and surrounding area, fishing for both trout and striped bass near his home in Grass Valley, CA. We basically just followed him around on the road and fished where and whenever possible. He has this internal “motor” that was hard to keep up with, but it enables him to fit fishing and music all in the same timeframe.
Flylords: What species was easiest and most difficult to shoot?
Matt: Striped bass were difficult because they don’t really jump. For these reasons, we fished a lot of top-water so we could get the surface eats on film. Once you hook a large striped bass it’s kind of a tank, but not acrobatic. They were also more challenging to hook because it wasn’t prime time for the bass. Chuck wanted to do it anyway, more risk more reward. We stuck with it and it kind of paid off. Smallies eating frogs was a joy.
Flylords: Is there a specific message being conveyed?
Matt: It is very unscripted… What you see is what you get. We didn’t set out to convey a message but more of a story. Throughout the course of filming, storytelling, and editing I think the message emerged. We will leave that up to the viewer to decide what he/she takes from this.
Flylords: What gear did you use?
Matt: We shot it on gear that was “good enough” but didn’t use Red Epic Cameras or anything. We shot the film entirely with the gear I own, a Sony FS 700, Panasonic GH4, and Mavic Drone. For rods, we mostly used 9ft 8wt rods with floating lines. For stripers, we used big poppers, pole dancers, and Clouser Minnows. In Michigan, we used special frog flies that Mike Schultz ties made from deer hair.
Flylords: Favorite location?
Matt: Hard to say, but the California Delta is just a really interesting place. A lot of people don’t know it’s there, it’s just a huge freshwater flood basin that gets stripers, salmon, and bass from surrounding rivers as they come from the San Francisco Bay. It was also Chuck’s home water so that was a bonus.
Matt Devlin runs PMD Productions and the Montana Fishing Film Festival. Be sure to follow his projects and check out his other works @pmdcreate and @mtfishingfilmfest on Instagram. Be sure to also check out the films sponsor @costaflyfishing and of course, the films leading man @chuckragan!
Be sure to grab your tickets for The Fly Fishing Film Tour
Check out our other “Behind the Lens” interviews: