There are 6 days left in the campaign and we still have a ton of incredible rewards available. When we crunched the numbers, we chose the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM required to get us to Labrador, without considering extra or better expedition gear, emergency funds, food, improvements to our camera kit etc, and every dollar over our goal will go to exactly those things. We are also 4K in debt from building out our existing camera configuration for the project, and putting a dent in that will save us tremendously on the back end of production when funds are better spent on the important things like sound mastering, motion graphics, and eventual distribution. So, what does all that mean? It means KEEP SHARING and lets see how far we can push this thing!
Labrador: The “Big Land”
There are very few places left on earth that human beings haven’t affected; places truly worthy of the title “wilderness”. Even fewer still can be found in North America. The Labrador Peninsula is a rare exception. It is one of the wildest and most rugged continuous swaths of boreal forest left on our planet. Unbroken strings of rivers, lakes, tundra, and pine forest extend for thousands of square miles unimpeded by roads, towns, or power lines. Not surprisingly, it’s home to some of the last truly pristine runs of fish and herds of caribou. Although remote, it is not untouchable, and the last few decades have seen a serge in attempts to commercialize the land and bring trade and commerce to the area. Under its rocky glacier-carved exterior lies an area rich in natural resources, which is vulnerable to those who wish to exploit it. Places like Labrador are not only incredibly important for the health of our environment and ecosystem, but the human spirit as well. In traveling to these remote areas to explore, discover and document we hope to enrich and inspire a generation of naturalists and conservationists to protect the land from those who’d seek to harm it.
While many have never even heard of the Canadian province, let alone be able to point to it on a map, as anglers and naturalists it’s been occupying the deepest corners of our minds since our first encounter with Salvelinus fontinalis nearly two decades ago. Brook trout, native to the Eastern United States were Americas first game fish, and historic records of the settlers first encounters as well as native American lore indicates that in pre-colonial times “brookies” were incredibly abundant and widespread. With the onset of the industrial revolution, dams, farming, deforestation, mining, sediment deposits, commercial fishing and introduction of non-native species began decimating populations up and down the eastern seaboard. Considered an indicator species, as water quality suffered so did fish populations as brookies have now been extirpated from nearly half of their historic range. Remnant populations are stunted and unstable, and continue to face a myriad of man made issues affecting water quality, now compounded by climate change. Labrador is one of the few places on earth where these fish have remained unchanged since distinguishing themselves on the evolutionary ladder nearly 10,000 years ago. They grow large, healthy and support incredible numbers, offering us a brief glimpse into the USA’s long lost brook trout heritage. Countless programs and efforts have sprung up across the east to protect, conserve, and restore brook trout population in America, but the runs of fish observed in Labrador will likely never return to US soil. For those interested in seeing the species at its most brilliant, Labrador is the last stronghold on earth.
Though many famed watersheds, first made famous by legendary angler and bush pilot Lee Wulff have sprouted full service lodges that offer a catered and sporting experience, many fisheries in Labrador still remain unknown, and even unexplored. Our expedition takes us to one of those watersheds. The Kanairiktok river is a rarely visited fishery not known for it’s brook trout. The number of people to set foot in its headwaters in modern history can be counted on one hand. However an expedition in 2003 brought back wild tales of large and ferocious trout. No one has been back since, and the area has never been documented in photographs or film. This is a holy grail for outdoor filmmakers, and with the 2003 expedition falling short of their goal destination due to foul weather, there are areas yet to be explored that we believe no human being has ever set foot in. Opportunities to achieve this type of first assent are incredibly rare, and not to be taken lightly.
We aim to produce a short feature (1 hr) film exploring the history and current state of brook trout, the environment they inhabit, and their relationship with human beings as told through the lens of our 14 day expedition. With a conservation minded approach we hope to share the story of one of the most remote and incredible wilderness ecologies left anywhere on earth. This is more than just a film about a fish, it’s the story of the land, the creatures that inhabit it, and why some people are willing to go where no one else will in search of the untouched. Though this land is relatively unknown to the modern world, the First Nations people (Innu) have hunted, fished, and lived in harmony with the Labrador interior for thousands of years, and this film would not be complete without sharing their story as well. The film will be shot on state of the art professional equipment, and our years of experience creating outdoor films insures that this will be our greatest effort to date. Despite the difficulty of filming this expedition, fans of our work should expect bigger and better production value than anything we’ve made to date.
Expedition Into The Unknown
The only way to reach the remote headwaters of the Kanairiktok is to travel far beyond the beaten path. Our journey begins in Massachusetts where we will depart on a 12 hour car ride to Sept Illes, QC. There the paved road will end and we’ll board the Tshieutin Railway train and continue our journey on a dawn to dusk ride to the remote mining outpost of Shefferville, QC. From there we’ll board a bush plane and travel another 130 miles by air to Time Lake where the expedition will begin in earnest. In our two Old Town Penboscot 174’s we’ll paddle, line, track, wade, and portage our way across the rugged landscape as we make our way through the headwater lakes of the Kanairiktok, filming and photographing every step of the way. There are no campsites, portage trails or roads on the river, and our only lifeline to the outside world will be a satellite phone. We’ll rely on each other and our gear to see us through to our extraction point 2 weeks and many miles later. Through every leg of the journey we will haul our canoes, food, camping gear, fishing gear, and camera equipment with us. We will undoubtedly run into obstacles and portages that will be incredibly difficult to overcome, but we will push onwards. Traveling by canoe is as much a part of the Canadian north as the brook trout themselves. The first nations peoples, or Innu, used canoes to navigate these watersheds, as did the fur trades and voyageurs. Labrador has a long history and tradition of exploration and adventure by canoe, an aside from being the most efficient way to travel across its rugged landscape, we feel that there is no better way to connect with the and engage with it’s rich cultural dialogue than by canoe and paddle. With its ease of passage in water, and its relatively compact size and weight it’s the perfect vehicle to cover ground otherwise inaccessible, and lots of it.
Shooting a film in the wilderness comes with its own unique set of challenges. The largest of which is the absence of power. We will have an arsenal of DSLR’s, action cameras, super 35mm cameras, monitors, drones, and gimbals, all of which require power to operate. We’ve developed a unique workflow that combines an excess of power (lots of spare batteries) with efficient and effective solar solutions to generate and store power on the go. Another consideration is weight; more batteries and more cameras means extra weight on our backs and in our canoes. We’ve spent the last 6 months painstakingly researching and testing gear to find the best combination of lightweight, rugged, and above all else, high performing. We refuse to sacrifice production quality for the sake of easier portages. Producing this film will not be easy, but we believe we are uniquely qualified to bring it to life.
Meet The Crew
Chase is a filmmaker, artist, angler, and conservationist who developed a love for fresh water salmonids when he caught his first fish on a fly rod 20 years ago; a brook trout. He’s spent nearly every waking second since pursuing, learning, and exploring all things fishy. He’s an accomplished fine artist who focuses on scientific illustration of trout, and received a BFA in film, video, and animation from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011. His work has helped inspire thousands of others to conserve and protect their wild spaces. After meeting the love of his life and creative counterpart, Aimee in 2014 the two formed Tight Loops as a way to coalesce their shared love of art and nature in one creative platform. They’ve been documenting their travels, adventures, and art ever since, and have produced countless short films and features which have received awards, profound critical acclaim, and been seen by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. They’ve quickly become staples of the fly fishing media world and have worked with countless notable brands on a myriad of projects and campaigns.
When Aimee was 13 she shot and developed her first photograph on a Minolta 35mm, and she never looked back. Almost two decades later she is living her dream as full time professional adventure photographer. In 2015 her and Chase bought a 1985 VW Westfalia van and began their work as creative nomads in earnest. She’s since amassed a portfolio of her travels throughout the countries most beautiful and wild spaces, and contributed to countless brands and publications. In 2014 Chase handed her a fly rod and she learned to cast like a veteran pro in under and hour, and it was only minutes later that she was landing her first fish. They’ve been documenting their fish filled travels ever since.
Dylan grew up fishing Maine’s most fabled brook trout waters, where he also fostered a love of whitewater paddling. He’s spent his life mastering both, and is now a professional white water guide, with thousands of hours on the water and several of multi-day/week long wilderness paddles under his belt. He’s guided all over the country, and is spending his summer leading up to Big Land guiding in Colorado. Dylan received his undergraduate degree from Colby college where he majored in ecology and evolution with a minor in chemistry. He's worked in a systems biology lab at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and is currently deferring a year at Brown University's Warren Alpert Medical School to pursue additional guiding, volunteering and wilderness medicine opportunities. For years he’s tried to plan a trip to Labrador and the pieces never came together, so he couldn’t believe his luck when he got the call about Big Land. An adrenaline junky with a love for brook trout, Dylan’s paddling expertise is a major asset on to the expedition as there will be plenty of rapids to navigate.
Christopher is a young and ambitious Labrador fishing guide who’s worked at a number of the provinces most esteemed lodges. A master of all things big brook trout, he’s dedicated his life to learning everything there is to know about Salvelinus fontinalis. A masterful angler and hard worker, Chris has quickly made a name for himself as not only one of Eastern Canada’s top guides, but also as a true steward of its rivers. Chris attends the University of New Brunswick where’s he’s finishing up a BSC in environmental and natural resources with a major in wildlife and conservation. A Nova Scotia native, Chris is also an aspiring filmmaker, documenting his adventures as a professional fishing guide making him the perfect addition to the team.
Where We’re At
We’ve spent the last year researching, planning, training, and amassing gear. Our generous sponsors have equipped us with critical equipment for the bush, most notably our two beautiful Old Town canoes. Shooting a film like this has required a complete overhaul of our filmmaking equipment due to considerations of size, weight, batter life etc, as we have never had to shoot without electricity and portage our gear for an extended period before. It has been a costly investment, but one that will ultimately serve to make an incredible film. Labrador has strict policies governing its fishing regulation, and as non-residents we must comply with a clause that requires us to engage with local outfitters. Anyone who has chartered a flight, and stayed at a lodge in a wilderness area knows how costly doing business can be. Our flights alone will cost $8,000 as well as another $6,000 in outfitting fees. We’ve saved our own money, maxed out our credit and emptied our savings to get where we are now, and we are still short of reaching those numbers. We have additional gear and travel expenses that will still cost several thousand more, but we are working hard every day to put additional money away. If we can raise our minimum goal of $15,000, we can handle the rest. Kickstarter takes a mandatory 5% of final funding, and there is a 5% processing fee on payments as well. We estimate close to 8% of our total funding will be placed back into reward fulfillment.
Exceeding Our Goal
The truth in producing films like Big Land is that our total production cost is likely to be double what our goal is once post-production and distribution is considered. We have to edit, color, sound mix, music license, submit to festivals, market, and distribute the film. Every penny that we raise above our goal will funnel directly back into this process, helping to make Big Land the very best film it can be.
Distributing The Film
As independent filmmakers there is always some degree of uncertainty when distributing our work, because in the world of film promotion and distribution money is king. Our budgets are small, but we believe our content speaks for itself. We have commitments from our partners to aid in an aggressive and wide spreading online and social media campaign to help promote and distribute Big Land. We will also be submitting to a number of outdoor film festivals such as Mountain Film, Wild and Scenic, Banff, Adventure Film in Boulder, Maine Outdoor and the World Tour Paddling Film Festival to name a few, as well as some shorter fishing cuts for the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4) and Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T). The film will also be available for digital download on On Demand services such as Itunes, Amazon, and Vimeo OD. Our eventual goal would be to land the film on a major streaming platform like Amazon or Netflix.
Risks and challenges
This is a high risk expedition and the challenges are abundant. From weather, to dangerous whitewater, to wildlife encounters the Labrador bush is fraught with unpredictable potential setbacks. We have, however, done everything in our power to overcome them. We've assembled a team with wilderness medicine, whitewater, back country, and bush-crafting/survival skills, and we are bringing state of the art satellite communication devices as well as a bounty of first aid and other useful tools. We've already logged over 100 miles in the wilderness of Maine over a 10 day paddle to help ensure our gear is working properly, and we are confident we can tackle anything in our path. We also have redundancy in our travel arrangements in the event that there are delays due to foul weather or other unforeseen circumstances. We will be in direct contact via sat phone with our outfitter in Labrador who will be helping us with safety and logistics in the event of an emergency.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter