Next up on the 2021 F3T Behind the Lens… Tetiaroa. A film about one of the most beautiful fly fishing destinations you could imagine. This promised land of giant GT’s, big bonefish, and pristine flats is enough of a reason to add this place to your bucket list, or to inspire you to pick up your rod and hit your local stream. To get an inside look at this story we sat down with two of the people that made this project possible, cinematographer Kane Chenoweth, and the Aussie Fly Fisher himself, Josh Hutchins.
Flylords: What is uniquely special about Tetiaroa?
Josh: Before starting this project, I had heard stories about a place in French Polynesia. An island with amazing natural beauty, interesting history, and massive Giant Trevally (GT) and Bonefish. Among the long list of things that makes Tetiaroa unique is the fact that these fish have little to no fishing pressure. If I had to guess, I would say that these fish see very few anglers each year. With this being the case, anglers have an opportunity to catch some of the biggest GT’s and Bones you can imagine… and they aren’t afraid to eat.
Flylords: What was your favorite part about filming this piece?
Kane: I think my favorite part about filming this piece was the unknown… We just finished a monster project called “Downunder,” which actually just won a Gold in the Australian Cinematographers Society Awards. Coming off this project, I wasn’t really sure what to expect with “Tetiaroa” when planning the story/structure of the film (besides the fact I’d be filming monster Bonefish). The story came together fairly organically which is always nice! Lastly, I feel lucky that Josh gave me the opportunity to capture this vision on an island owned by the Brando family. This is an extremely special flats fishery and it’s a project I won’t forget for a long time!
Flylords: What was the most challenging part of filming this piece?
Josh: Anytime we bring a collection of camera gear into a saltwater destination, it’s challenging. We are trying to catch fish, get the shots, and protect the gear throughout the process. Additionally, when the weather doesn’t cooperate, it can make things especially difficult. For this trip we had less than a week to shoot on the island, and we only had one full day of sun. With the cards we were dealt, the pressure was on to catch fish and get the shots.
Flylords: What kind of camera setup were you using?
Drone: DJI Mavic 2
Flylords: What is your favorite species to target in Tetiaroa?
Josh: It’s hard to stray away from GT fishing. I say this often, but GT fishing is like a knife fight in a phone booth. Everything happens in close quarters, and each move has to be perfect if you want to land that fish. It’s the fight that keeps me coming back for more.
Flylords: What is your favorite species to shoot with on camera?
Kane: Any fish that’s sight fished is a great fish to capture (which was about 95% of the fish in the film). I can’t go past a thumper GT though. They’re the bad boys of the flats, and just look extremely tough on camera.
Flylords: What do you hope audiences take away from this film?
Josh: While Tetiaroa may be a far destination for most people to travel, I hope that this film acts as inspiration for people to get out fishing wherever they can. It doesn’t have to be fishing for GT’s in French Polynesia. It can be adventuring in your local stream, estuary, pond, or whatever is available for you.
Flylords: What is the biggest threat to the future of Tetiaroa?
Josh: The film highlights the incredible biodiversity of Tetiaroa and how much the local community cares about the conservation of this place. But, the looming concern for this island isn’t what’s happening on the island, it’s climate change. As Frank Murphy (Executive Director of the Tetiaroa Society) says in the film, Tetiaroa acts as a “canary in the coal mine” because the island is incredibly vulnerable. No matter how pristine this island may be, a future filled with rising sea levels, coral bleaching, increasing ocean temperatures, and intensifying hurricanes, presents a grim possible future for Tetiaroa and other similar islands.
Flylords: What can we expect next from Kane Chenoweth?
Kane: I recently finished up filming a project with Josh on the Wessel Islands off the coast of the Northern Territory, Australia. I’m currently in the middle of the edit at the moment, and I’m extremely excited to share it! We still have a few changes we are making to the extended public release of “Downunder,” so that might be coming out soon. Whilst writing this, I’m actually on a flight for the next project with Josh. This time in the Cocos Keeling Islands. This one should be fun, and hopefully a hero piece for my year. Heaps to be excited about, and can’t wait to see what else the year brings!
Flylords: Any hints about what viewers can expect from the Aussie Fly Fisher next?
Josh: We aren’t slowing down anytime soon! For the time being, we’ve got a bunch of places that we’ll be exploring and documenting around Australia. There is such a wide range of fishing opportunities in this area that remain relatively unknown to most of the world, and we’re excited to experience those places and document them. Stay tuned for some exciting Aussie Fly Fisher content to come!
For more information about Tetiaroa conservation check out the Tetiaroa Society.
For more information about the lodging seen in the film, check out The Brando.
Follow along with the film tour @flyfishingfilmtour on Instagram.