Confluence Films principals Chris Patterson and Jim Klug (read more about them here) recently sat down with the team at Hatch for an interview. We’ll run the interview in two pieces — look for the second to come soon!
1. This is your 5th film together and you’re still talking to each other. What’s the secret?
CP: Ha, it’s a bit like a marriage, so you know there are a few tough moments. Jim and I actually make great partners on these films. We each have our defined roles and we respect, without question, each persons strengths and opinions. I feel that this is such a rewarding way to work. To be honest, I have it easy, I just get to do what I love and make movies. Jim keeps researching and suggesting the ideas and then he finds a way to get them paid for!
JK: I would say the secret is that we both bring very different things to the table. We definitely compliment each other and let each other focus on the things that we do best. If Chris was not my partner in this, I have no doubt that I never would have entered the realm of filmmaking. I am fortunate to work with the best shooter and cinematographer in the business.
2. This is the first film that focuses on a single location versus segments? What was the thinking behind this decision?
CP: When we shot Waypoints, we spent two weeks with the FlyCastaway crew on St Brandon’s Atoll and they have a lot of great stories. Big adventure stuff that only guys from Africa can tell. Gerhard told us the story of Providence Atoll that detailed the amazing fishing and the remote nature of the Atoll. Then he continued with the chapter about the live-aboard ship that they had previously operated being taken by pirates, which lead to the outer atolls then being completely closed off for the last six years. The story of a possible return to the area was amazing, and both Jim and I felt that it could easily make a movie in itself. It is too good a story to jam into a 15-minute segment like those in our traditional multi-location movies. We knew it would be expensive to pull off, but we have great, longtime partners (Hatch, Simms, Yeti, Costa, Yellow Dog) who trust us and were willing to support this project.
JK: So many times with previous film segments we would shoot a ton of amazing footage and capture so many interesting things only to then cut everything down to 15 minutes. Chris and I had talked numerous times about shooting a project where we could really dive into a story in detail, creating a full-length film about a single area, group of people and fishery. Providence Atoll and the story of piracy throughout the area was perfect for our first full-length, single-story project.
3. Can you give us a brief rundown of the location of the film. Where is Providence?
JK: Providence is the largest, most remote and least-visited island in the Seychelles. Few people have ever fished there, and the eco-system exists in a state that has been 100% untouched by the hand of man. The fishery is truly amazing – exactly what you would expect from a destination that sees virtually zero pressure.
4. Can you explain the brief history of the location and why it was important to go there?
JK: Overall, the Seychelles are still a relative newcomer to the international saltwater scene when it comes to destination angling. And while destinations like Alphonse and Farquhar are becoming fairly well known, the distant out-islands like Cosmoledo, Astove and Providence are still considered the “new frontier” in the region. Providence and some of the other out-islands had been fished by a handful of people and a couple of South African operators during the early and mid-2000s, but all of these areas and islands were then closed by the Seychellois government in 2009 after a number of ships were hijacked by Somali pirates. For six long years these atolls and islands sat untouched – completely unvisited and unfished. You can imagine how good the fishing was when we went back in!
5. What were some of the target species?
JK: Fishing Providence is like fishing in one of the world’s most exotic saltwater aquariums. There are literally HUNDREDS of species found on the flats and all throughout the shallow waters of the atoll, including giant trevally, huge bonefish, permit, bumphead parrotfish, Napoleon wrasse, bluefish trevally, milkfish, barracuda, countless kinds of snapper and grouper …. the list is definitely kind of overwhelming. And the great thing is that every one of these fish seems to eat like they’ve never before seen a fly or an angler!
6. Who were the characters involved in the film?
JK: The film primarily profiles Gerhard Laubscher and Tim Babich from South Africa and Camille Egdorf from Montana. There are also great interviews with Ryan Hammond of South Africa as well as Francis Roucou, the former captain of the MV Indian Ocean Explorer who was captured and held hostage by Somali pirates for several months in 2009.
7. What type of equipment was used for fishing?
JK: We fished a lot of big rods, great reels and heavy leaders for GTs. When you’re fishing for these trevally, you usually fish a 12 wt. rod, a large Hatch 12+ reel, and Hatch backing and lines. When you’re fishing for species that are completely violent and destructive, you better bring the best gear possible. These fish specialize in wrecking tackle, breaking rods, taking entire fly lines, and generally destroying everything they can. When you are in such a remote location with nothing available but the gear you brought along, its important to have the very best.
8. Logistically how did this shoot compare to the other films?
JK: It was certainly more remote and “out there” than just about any place we’ve even visited. We sailed from Mahe to Farquhar, which took about three days on the open ocean. From there another eight hours or so to cross over to Providence Atoll. Since the atoll is totally uninhabited with no infrastructure at all, the mothership was the perfect platform for fishing and exploring the atoll. We lived on the boat for three weeks while filming. Overall, there were a lot of moving pieces, a lot of crew, a full-time team of security guards, and tons of equipment. The end result will be impressive, however, so I have no doubt that it will have all been worth it.
9. Any drones used in the filming? Any military drones around?
CP: We did use a drone to get the birds-eye view of the atoll and the fishery. It was amazing. Once we were there and shooting with the drone from 1800 feet above the water, I realized that if we had tried making this movie five years ago or even two years ago, we could have never shown the incredible scale of the place without a drone. The drone was a fantastic tool and Colin Witherill – an old friend that I’ve worked with all over the world in my job with Warren Miller – did all of the flying and shooting. We even built what we referred to as our “mini aircraft carrier” out of a regular skiff to take off/land the drone on while on the water. The aerial shots are amazing. When you see things like a huge school of Bumpies coming right at a casting angler or GTs feeding from above, it is definitely a very cool perspective.
10. Any “adventurous” moments you want to share?
CP: We had our share of super-sharky moments while filming the underwater footage, including some large and very curious bull sharks. We also had a “real world” pirate scare, but you’ll have to see the movie to see how that one turned out.