We are excited to announce a new 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: So tell us a little bit about yourself!
RA: I was born and raised in Aspen, Colorado and started fishing at a pretty young age. I started working at fishing shops when I was a little kid, then moved on as a guide apprentice and started guiding as soon as I could legally do it. Guided all the way through high school and through college. I came from a family in TV and entertainment and started to merge passion through the outdoors and fishing with video and other mediums.
We grew up in the ski and snowboard scene particularly through the evolution of watching film and all the media influence of those sports. We wanted to take that to fly fishing as well, so throughout high school and throughout college, we did just that, we were always filming. Then the fly fishing film industry, if you want to call it that, started very early on with this thing called the Drake Provenance of Fly Fishing Video Awards. We had a film in there with another small handful of people that were doing similar stuff. Then over the last, I don’t know, 12 or 13 years that’s developed into what is now the Fly Fishing Film Tour and fly fishing media as a genre.
Flylords: That’s incredible! Did you see fly fishing media getting this big?
RA: It’s been interesting to watch that whole thing unfold and develop. It used to be 20 people in a room sitting there and watching a movie and everyone thought it was cool but if you told people in 10 years there’d be people running around everywhere with cameras making media and making movies, there’d be sold out venues I think we all would have thought you were crazy. The scene is definitely developing and it’s been kind of a cool ride.
Flylords: How many films have you had in the F3T?
RA: I’ve probably done 15 over the years. We’re probably the only company that’s been in every single film tour since the beginning and then we’ve been in multiple movies in a lot of the years. We’re probably the oldest most longstanding company in regards to having media in the film tour every year.
Flylords: What gave you the idea to make the film in Dubai?
RA: We get a lot of offers to make different movies and make different media. People are constantly sending in ideas. We have a contact in South Africa who wanted us to chat about doing a movie in Dubai. It’s been about two years working with partners over there to develop the concept and get everything put together. I don’t know exactly why we picked Dubai other than people really haven’t done any media about the Middle East yet. We thought it would be a cool springboard to launch into the Middle East. For folks here in the US, the Middle East can be a scary place. We figured that starting off in a place like Dubai would open the doors to fishing in that region.
Flylords: Tell me a little bit about the team that you used to make this film.
RA: I’ve got a pretty good sized team. We worked with another production company called Drift Media. Behind the camera was Paul Bourcq and myself, underwater and still photography was covered by Bryan Gregson, and it was written by Sarah Grigg. Then we worked with a group called Ocean Active. They pioneered fly fishing in Dubai and Oman and a lot of different places in the Middle East.
Flylords: A lot of the other films in the F3T this year are in very remote areas. What was it like fishing in such an urban environment?
RA: That’s a good question. Certainly, there’s a lot of challenges that are inherent in a big city. Logistically the stuff that people don’t think about and probably don’t care about that much is just the logistics of obtaining permits and working in a pretty high profile city. Also when you’re filming you have to contend with a lot of urban noise which was a pain. There’s definitely a lot more challenges in a big city than you would encounter in a super remote place.
We’ve filmed in super remote places where we didn’t have power for a month. When you’re working in a big city you have access to a tremendous amount of technology. You have access to audio teams and film specialists and cameras. There’s a lot of luxuries that come along with filming in a very high profile urban environment. It’s just a different animal.
A lot of the same things apply. You’re trying to get the same shots. You’re trying to capture the same moments. From a production standpoint once you’re on the water it’s pretty darn similar to anywhere else that you’d work or you’d film.
Flylords: Tell me a little bit about the fishery and what makes it so unique.
RA: I think what’s really unique about that fishery is for anyone who’s ever spent any time fishing saltwater unless you’re fishing the flats, there’s a lot of elements to contend with. I think what’s pretty unique about Dubai is that given the nature of the islands and everything there, it’s very calm. There’s not a lot of wind. It’s a very visual fishery because of that as well. When it’s super calm you can see all the bay, you can see the fish. It’s a lot more visual for us than a lot of the inshore stuff that I’ve done.
Flylords: What flies and rods were you using?
RA: They use a variety of clousers, different combinations based on the time of the day. We fished with a bunch of the new Thomas & Thomas saltwater rods in the 8 to 10 range. The cool thing is early in the morning a lot of the bay is up super high. The fish are feeding from below and they’re kind of looking for a profile. A lot of the flies you’re fishing the color is not as important as the profile. You do have to deliver the fly pretty quickly when the fish are up and busting. It is very visual. You kind of have to be on your game and you have to make your casts.
Flylords: What gear did you use to film?
RA: We use a variety of cameras based on the different types of shots. The principal camera that we were working with was a Red camera system. Those are great cameras for a lot of different reasons when shooting fly fishing content. We also utilize a lot of Sony gear. We have some custom rigs that we set up to get specific detail shots we like to get. Then all the way down to the Canons we use in the underwater housings. Really we use a variety of cameras tailored to the specific shots that we’re trying to get.
Flylords: Do you get a sense that many people in Dubai know about the fishery that’s right in their backyard?
RA: The interesting thing is the more and more you dig into the culture in Dubai you realize that these people are very tied to the sea. Their diet is very attached to the local fishery. They eat a lot of fish. Their fishing styles are very different. Obviously, they’ve been fishing over for hundreds of years. Fly fishing is very new but they’re very interested in it.
Flylords: How do you see the sport of fly fishing growing in Dubai?
RA: I think what’s going to happen is it’s a tremendous launching off point for coming to different places in the world. If you look at the world and all these different places you could travel throughout Asia and Europe and Africa divided into a central hub. Really if you are going to be accessing any of that stuff in Seychelles or in Eastern Africa, any of that, you basically have a choice. You can fly to Paris and then access the African continent or you could fly thru Dubai. Why not if you’re traveling a very long distance have a day or two in Dubai to rest up and shake some of the dust off your rods. Get your skill set back on track before you get down to the Seychelles.
Flylords: I have one more question for you. What was your most memorable moment of making the film?
RA: There’s a couple of moments that stick out for sure. We got to spend some time out in the desert and we were working with camels and we worked with these incredible falcons. They brought out these just really, really beautiful, really well-trained falcons and we got to spend some time working with them. Also, getting to spend some time with the people. Whenever you go to a big city, you have to have your guard up. You have to pay attention and just be smart about what you’re doing.
We would be working in Dubai and I could leave a Red camera, sitting 5-10 feet away from us with no concern that it was going to walk off or get stolen. We never felt in danger, never felt threatened. People are super easy, polite and helpful. Just the culture I think was super refreshing. That’s super nice. You never know what you’re going to get traveling to a new country and it was just pretty refreshing to see how awesome the people were.
RA Beattie has had films featured in all the Fly Fishing Film Tours since the tour began. Be sure to check him out on Instagram @beattie_outdoor_productions!
Questions by Team Flylords member Conner Grimes @southeastflyfishing on Instagram!
Be sure to read our posts highlighting the other F3T films: