Welcome to this year’s F3T Behind the Lens where we interview the filmmakers of the F3T finalists and get a behind-the-scenes look and understanding of their films. For the first installation of the series we had the privilege of interviewing the Braker Brothers about their new short film, “Phoenix”. Phoenix isn’t about some far-off destination or some exotic species. It’s a story that hits a little closer to home. It’s about Katie Fielder Anderson and her love for her daughter Phoenix, a passion for fly fishing, and her willingness to take a leap of faith in order to pursue her passion and inspire her daughter to one day do the same. A mom named Katie Fiedler, a mom of a daughter named Phoenix, a mom whose passion is fly fishing, a mom whose story tells a leap of faith in order to inspire her 4-year-old with a shared passion: Fly Fishing.
Andrew and Eric are the Braker Brothers. After last year’s success with “A Journey Upstream“, the brothers decided that they wanted to have a film focus on the human experience and fly fishing. Through Katie’s story, the Braker Brothers found their vision with Phoenix. A heartwarming short documentary that highlights the story of a full-time mom and fly-fishing guide.
Flylords: What or who pushed you to create a film about Phoenix and Katie?
Eric: It really started back in 2016 when we took a family vacation to Vail, Colorado. We went out on a guided fly fishing trip and our guide happened to be Katie Fiedler Anderson. We fell in love with her and her guiding style. It was like nothing we had experienced before. She just catered the day towards what Andrew and I wanted to do, it was so unique. At the time neither of us had caught a brook trout and we told her that’s what we wanted to do. It was the most perfect day, we’ve never stopped talking about it. When “A Journey Upstream” was wrapping up we were already looking for our next thing. We wanted to think of a film focused on a female angler and Katie immediately came to mind. We gave her a call and the rest was history.
Flylords: Where was this filmed? Was this all filmed in and around Vail, Colorado?
Flylords: If you have a message that you are trying to convey through this short movie. What would that message be?
Eric: The heart of the film is a quote that Katie wrote in a paper about her frustrations and time in the industry. Katie states “No matter what leap you are about to take, if it’s worth it, the pain, angst, and general ridiculousness will be worth the sweet trout tugging at the end of your line.” We were hoping to capture the emotion she shares with this quote in the film. It’s about Katie overcoming adversity while also acknowledging that Phoenix is learning and watching her every move.
Flylords: Is there a particular shot or scene in the film that is your absolute favorite compared to the rest?
Andrew: So the ending scene is the Anderson family fishing on this small creek with a 3 WT. What’s so special is that that’s the exact stretch that Katie took Eric and me on that guided trip so many years ago. He had this really cool realization of how things have flipped. This time instead of being guided we were the ones in the background with the cameras getting to watch them enjoy and fish with Phoenix. There was just so much value to that entire scene, visit, just in general to be back there with Katie was something that was so surreal to us.
Flylords: What gear did you guys end up using? Camera, main lens, follow-cam? And Eric did you really use a sticky mount to mount your DSLR on the front of the car?
Eric: So this film was all shot on digital of course. The main camera was a Sony A7Siii shooting in 4k. And the second camera was a Sony A7iii which they also suction mounted to the hood of Katies’ car. “ was so nervous, we did one test run and was fully freakin’ out, we were on a gravel road and with every single bump, I had this vision of the camera flying off. But the Amazon suction mount did the trick and we got the shot.
Flylords: What was the filming timeline like? Did you guys have an idea of what you wanted or a vision? Or did the film kind of just naturally unfold?
Andrew: After being guided by Katie we had always stayed in touch. So the last we had heard is that she had a daughter and that she was guiding under a new outfitter. But we didn’t know how good of a story we had until we caught up with Katie and she gave us her story that she had drafted. It was at that point that you could feel the story and development of this film.
Eric: I think we kind of just knew in general that we wanted to make a film with her and her story. The next step was embracing her story and making that come to life. Once Andrew and I sat down to discuss the film and Katies’ story we knew we had something special. We actually only used 2 weekends to get the shots we needed. It was super short but we were able to work together and get all the shots.
Flylords: Is there anyone you want to thank for helping you with this film and bringing this story to life?
Eric: The first thing that comes to mind is Katie, Cooper, and Phoenix even though she was along for the ride anyway haha. But just the fact that they trusted us enough to share their story is something that we are very grateful for. And also right off the bat our sponsors for the film especially Costa for being our presenting sponsor, Douglas, Simms, & Wise River.
Andrew: I would also like to thank a number of people involved in the post-production qualities of the film. Original Score – Marcus Meston, Robin McCormack – Thunderbird Design, Colorist – Guy Giamio-McClung, and sound mixer – Jason McDaniel.
Flylords: I think I’m asking for the people here but what were some things that Phoenix did during filming that made you guys lose it or were just super memorable?
Eric: Oh gosh, what didn’t she do haha. But I think for me it has to be the iconic movie poster shot. It was a short scene where Katie is holding Phoenix. We had been out filming for most of the day and Phoenix was just exhausted. She sat down on the bank and fell asleep. So, Katie picked her up dead asleep and put her on her shoulder. Another thing that I took home with me after hanging around Katie and Cooper was their sayings to Phoenix. The one that really stuck with me happened when Phoenix asked Katie if she could walk on a log or balance on a rock and Katie would say “Yeah, just don’t be sketchy.”
Andrew: I’d have to agree that is probably one of the most memorable Phoenix antics but there’s a close second for me. In general, it’s hard to create a film with young kids because they’re either “up” so high or “down” so low, so quickly. Katie did an unreal job with having Pheonix prepped for filming. A pre-film nap, snacks, and candy went a long way. And when all of those lined up little miss extravert was the star of the show haha. It was such a blast to film her and the whole family.
Flylords: Alright guys now this is a tough question but, what do you like more, photography or fly fishing?
Eric: Believe it or not. I think I’m going to have to say fly fishing as well because the sole reason we fly fish is for ourselves. You get to really just enjoy your moment on the water for me I see videography and photography getting in the way of that moment sometimes.
Andrew: Gosh that’s hard. I’m going to have to say fly fishing because it makes you look at the world in a unique way which is why I think photography goes hand in hand with fly fishing. It gives us that same appreciation for where we are at, what we are looking for, etc…
Flylords: What’s next for the Braker Brothers?
Andy: There’s definitely going to be a future, First of all. I think we are going to really try to scale up. Improve production quality and Project size and just bring it up to the next level. Potentially even do 2 films. “With A Journey Upstream” that was an outdoor film meets an environmental film where Phoenix is more focused on the human experience. I think with where our passion and academic background we want to dive back into an environmental outdoor film.
Eric: And then a fly fishing-focused film too. That’s really our biggest goal. So far we’ve really only averaged about 1 film a year and we’d love to do 2 even if it takes a little longer than a year. I think that would be really cool.
If you aren’t already, make sure to follow the @brakerbrothers to keep up on their upcoming films and adventures. And of course, don’t forget to buy tickets for the @flyfishingfilmtour so you can see this film and the 9 others that made the cut!