Next up on the Behind the Lens feature of F3T we had the pleasure to sit down with our good friend Colin Scott to discuss his new film, MOVEMENTS. MOVEMENTS is the symphonic saga – in four parts (RAINBOW, STEELHEAD, MUSKY, STRIPER) – of three Alaska fishing guides who road trip their way home in a 2003 Dodge Caravan (best known as ‘Van-a White’ and for its lack of a reverse gear) from AK to NYC. From an Alaskan paradise to a literal Gomorrah in four short weeks – arriving in Time Square on Halloween night – MOVEMENTS is a stunning 14-minute showcase of what North America has to offer in terms of its diverse beauty and angling opportunities, and an invitation to rediscover where and why we fell in love with fly fishing in the first place.
Flylords: Tell us about “Movements.” Where’d you guys come up with that name and what does that name mean to you?
Colin: Well, the original idea came from F3T. They introduced me to Sanford, Rex, and Paul. We all guide the Bristol Bay area. Different lodges, but we intersect on some similar rivers. They introduced me to this idea of following them closeout the Alaska guide season to their homes in New York.
In all honesty, it was kind of a daunting proposition because it was so straightforward, but what really excited me was that I really liked the structure. There were four sections across North America. There were rainbows in Alaska, steelhead in BC, musky in Wisconsin, and then striper back home. That four-part structure is super conducive.
Right off the bat, I thought of something, a symphony structured in four movements. Then I was working on this other film with Nathan Corbin, our cinematographer, and he’s got a really symphonic shooting style. Yeah, so “Movements.” Four movements to a symphony and four movements to our film were the original premise.
We got away from it throughout the shoot and then getting back with our editors, they brought it up again. They brought up the old kids’ cartoon, “Symphony Peter and the Wolf.” The fact that they came to the same conclusion on their own made me really reconsider that structure and that idea of the film. We all settled on the title “Movements” in the post-production process.
Flylords: Tell us a little bit about who you are?
Colin: I’m a filmmaker eight months a year and then an Alaskan fly fishing guide four months a year for kings. Fly fishing has always been a part of my life, either recreationally or professionally. I guided in Glacier through college at University of Montana and then I went to grad school for screenwriting in the University of Texas and I guided down there. I just learned the creative life. Writing, filmmaking, whatever kind of artist. Fly fishing and guiding really sustained that in the best way possible.
I’ve been a firefighter, paramedic, and all these different jobs that allowed me to get outside. Compared to all of those, they’re all great jobs, but guiding really gives me a really flexible and open schedule to write and make films… You put in your work, make your money, get outside, refill the emotional tank, and then you have this huge chunk of time to make films. I know a lot of filmmakers who aren’t fisherman and they don’t have that kind of time.
Flylords: Out of the four regions that you guys were focusing on, was there one region that you think you enjoyed shooting in the most? What was the biggest difficultly from a filmmaking perspective?
Colin: Each of the four regions had some huge highlights and some massive difficulties.
I’d say my favorite region would have to be Alaska. Just because I work in it every year and I know how cinematic it can be and how unknown it is for the vast majority of people. The bears, moose, and stuff you see on a daily basis is totally remarkable. Riding in bush planes and jet boats in the fall when the tundra turns fall colors is breathtaking.
To be able to get that on a really nice Alexa rather than on an iPhone, like most of us, was really special. And guide life, especially the end of the season when people are burned out, drinking too much, and just ready to be home is kind of a really unique sub-culture. That was probably my favorite section.
And then musky was the total low point… You’ve come from beautiful BC and Alaska. Wisconsin was pretty in its own way, but it was eerie. It reminded me of Sleepy Hollow, just these big canopy of naked trees and black water. It was super hard on our cinematographer. I rowed the raft and then he’d be in the front of the boat, like a turret, with the camera.
We were trying to make this film a little more cinematic than a lot of hunting/fishing shows. Then when someone would hook up, you’d just hit record. It makes for a really awkward cut because you’re just kind of fishing and then you cut to someone halfway through a fight with a fish. I just have always thought that as not very cinematic and a little sloppy.
We rolled the whole day, 12-hour days. The cinematographer on every cast, he’d pan, zoom, focus, and then he’d pan back. He’s essentially casting with every cast. It really wore him out. The last day, he was like, “I don’t think I can go out for another 12-hour day.” We got blanked three days in a row. I can run a camera, but not like Nathan. He’s a very unique talent.
Luckily, Nathan’s just a workhorse and standup guy. Middle of the night, he came to me. He’s like, “I’ll just do it. I’ve gotta see it through.” Thank god he did because we got six or seven musky that day and some really incredible footage.
Flylords: Tell us briefly about the crew you guys were running for the project?
Colin: With the overhead of gas, gear, camping, and food, road tripping from Alaska to New York is an expensive trip. I wanted it to be cinematic, I just had to figure out how to cut cost. We went with a really small crew.
I knew Nathan, our cinematographer was the type of guy that will forego, even though he deserves higher pay. I knew I could say, “I have X amount,” which was not a lot whatsoever, “But we’re going to be afforded this incredible opportunity to see the continent in a really unique way.” He was game. No questions asked. And then introduced me to our producer, Luke, who was also just another guy who was looking for an adventure.
And then I reached out to my old guide friend, Sam. He was kind of our AD, and a really great boatman. I brought 100 pounds of salmon from Alaska. We ate fresh Alaska salmon every night and had a great camp and tarp and Dutch ovens. No one got paid a lot, but we made up for it in other ways. Between us, everyone had to do two or three jobs the entire way across
Flylords: Tell us about the camera you were using. What makes the Alexa so unique?
Colin: We used an Alexa Mini, which honestly, I think looks just like a RED. I think most people somewhat involved in film know a RED. The picture quality’s amazing, but the Alexa Mini body, we built it up in a way that was super minimal. It was half the size of a RED and still this big, clunky, heavy thing. We were able to crawl in and out of float plains and rafts.
We had an easy rig every once in a while, but mostly, it’s Nathan’s handheld. Then we had sticks if we wanted something more static.
Flylords: What was it like working with Rex, Paul, and Sanford and being on the road with those guys for such a long time?
Colin: Those guys are road warriors for sure. You can tell they’ve done the tour and can just put in the hard miles. We went across the whole continent from the most extreme western point to pretty much the most extreme eastern point in less than 30 days with a lot of fishing in between and camping.
They’re pros, but being guides you get burned out regardless. You talk to guides in Bozeman or you talk to guides on Henry’s Fork or whatever, but Alaska, it’s 120 days and you work every single day and you’re with clients every single waking minute away from civilization. The burnout is just extreme.
We were already burnt out from the go … My lodge shut down a couple of days before theirs. I closed up, boarded up our lodge, and then I flew to Anchorage and I had like four hours until the camera crew arrived. The next morning, Nathan and I flew to Newhalen. Rex, Paul, and Sanford had a couple more days of guiding and then boarded up. We flew to Anchorage and we were on our way.
Flylords: Do you have a favorite shot from the film that comes to mind?
Colin: I think the opening shot behind the plane when the prop fires up was one of my favorites.
There’s another shot too. It was in BC and early morning. They’re pulling the raft onto the van and there’s just this beautiful sunrise and they all have headlamps so you’re getting cool flares off their headlamps. Every time the headlamps hit the raft, it’s just covered in this hoarfrost. It’s sparkling. There’s so many colors and flares. It’s a beautiful shot. That’s probably my favorite.
Flylords: Was there anything that you wish you had gotten a shot of?
Colin: The steelhead just would not go airborne. We shot and cranked over a lot of water on super slow-mo and I wanted a slow-mo steelhead going airborne. It was cold. They weren’t super jumpy and the opportunity didn’t present itself.
Flylords: Any other films that you’re excited to in the film tour this year?
Colin: I’m really excited to see “Next Gen.” I like anything where they take a traditional storyline that could be somewhat straightforward and you had a unique element, like the fact that the kid’s the narrator, I think, is genius. Gives a really cool, new perspective to something we know and a story we’ve seen. I think that was really smart and it’s going to make this really fresh film. So yeah, probably “Next Gen.”
Special thanks to Colin Scott for photos. Follow the adventure on Instagram!
Also, follow along with the film tour @flyfishingfilmtour to see where they will be next!
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