Running the Coast with Jamie Howard

World renowned videographer, Jamie Howard recently released his latest film Running The Coast – documenting the Striped Bass Migration up the east coast of the United States. After 5 years of filming Jamie recently released this masterpiece and is offering the movie in a 3 part series on Vimeo. The movie was also selected into this years F3T (Fly Fishing Film Tour). We wanted to go behind the scenes with Jamie and ask him some questions about the movie. 

1. You have been producing fly fishing films for a long time now, when did you first pick up a fly rod? When did you first pick up a camera? What was the first film you ever produced?

I first picked up a flyrod when I was probably about nine and caught my first Brookie on a Virginia stream that year. I had directed commercials in New York and had to learn how to tell a story in 30 seconds, but after studying film principles I decided to take a leap. I went to film bonefish in the Bahamas after 911 – and that movie was In Search of a Rising Tide. One would never believe how difficult that was to make. I started off by getting stuck in an ice storm and the other cameraman was delayed by another day or so. It was Christmas in the Bahamas so not prime time to ask for guide favors and interviews. But we tracked em all down. It took almost a year to edit, even though it was only 20 minutes long. Mercifully, word-of-mouth help it find an audience, and ultimately it made it to television after a ridiculous number of calls asking executives to just at least look at it.

2. You just finished your latest film Running the Coast, which took you 5 years to finish! Why did this particular piece take so long? Do you think this is your best work yet, and why?
Running the coast was supposed to take a season or two. Then, as I got deeper into the project I realized that this fish was fighting a population decline, so there were no automatics for where you would find fish. Also, everywhere I went people asked me if I was covering their particular discipline: the beach, the boat, fly, conventional, onshore, offshore, the south, the north, etc.… I knew I had bitten off more than I could chew at that point and I asked the crew to return with me again the next year and then the next year… Some happier about it than others 🙂 my personality dictated that I just couldn’t quit until I thought it was the best. Kind of a curse for me and perhaps a good thing in the long run for its value with the audience.

Is it my best movie? I was thinking about this question the other day when I was asked. Despite having the good fortune of Chasing Silver working out as I hoped, and even finding a place in the IGFA Hall of Fame theater, there’s a depth of characters and history and subplot thats new here. I think I learned much in my older other films, and this one, I am proud to say, is the best filmmaking. They’re all special in their own way though.

3. What was the hardest part about filming Running the Coast?
The hardest part was the sheer scope. It’s something you could only do once in a lifetime. Sort of like doing your residency as a medical student, or giving birth to triplets, it’s something you’re proud of doing but probably don’t plan on doing again. They’ve written books about The migration and even attempted to make films about it, but there’s a reason why we may have been the first to complete it. It’s insane and difficult. It’s ridiculous. You don’t know where the fish are exactly from season to season and there are so many ways to catch them. You are trying to cover over 1000 miles and theoretically there should be other things in your life besides fish… Ha.

4.  What was your favorite part about filming this movie?
The best part about it was meeting so many great people. My goal is to go back and fish all the places now that I have completed it. I have sort of a rule when I film – don’t fish off when you can film. I only fished a couple of times in four years. Then it was when I absolutely had all the footage I could ever use from that location. Now I want to go back without a camera and look at the water from and anglers point of view only…These guys are also committed, and their fisheries are also unique and special. I’d like to just go fishing! Fingers crossed I can find the time and they can find the time.

5. Favorite species to target on the fly rod?
That’s an impossible question. But, I can say that a rising big brown trout on an uncrowded rocky mountain river is nirvana. Of course, watching a saltwater game fish take off with your fly is pretty nuts as well.

6. What is the hardest part about being a fly fishing videographer?
When you make a fishing film, the stars don’t have any contractual obligation to do their part or do what you want them to do. Nor does the weather. You have to apply film principles to the uncontrollable. And, there are so many things that can, and do go wrong, that affect the cinema, that one is just working to buff them out. Pretty pictures and music are a great, but many channels of audio and candid characters are the foundation of these longer form films. The goal is to make an entire storyline that keeps falling forward. Kind of tough, but the fish deserve it. So it’s worth a shot.

7. Do you have any role models in the fly fishing industry?
My father taught me a ton. He walked way too far when I was just learning but I guess it stuck. He doesn’t come out to Montana anymore but when the weather is nice I’m sure to get a phone call. He will have tied up something to try.

8. What does your camera setup look like? Do you have any advice for the younger kids trying to get into fly fishing videography?
Any camera will do it. The Red camera is popular now as well as many SLRs. Depth of field generally adds a nice cinematic feel to a scene when it’s possible. Know your f stop 😉 But I’m convinced that it’s really not the camera, it’s the intuition of what to do with it, even if it’s just an iPhone. More time on the water helps with that.

9. Favorite Drink?
White Russian
(shout out to The Dude)

10. Favorite Movie?
The truth is no one can turn away from the Bourne identity movies, but another shout out to the Cohen brothers. Raising Arizona was a special movie in it’s time.

11. Favorite Book?
Faulkner’s Light in August

12. What is next?
I am working on small film projects right now not all related to fishing. If I do another one it will be for someone who underwrites a very special project. Running the coast is one-of-a-kind and I’m really blessed to be able to share it after all this time.

You can find the full film here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/runningthecoast

Visit Jamies website here: http://www.howardfilms.com/runningthecoast/

Follow Jamie on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/howard_films/?hl=en