Directors Kahlil Hudson and Tyler Hughen found an unexpected autobiographical element to their fly fishing documentary “Low & Clear.” The film offered the directors an opportunity to work together after several years apart, much like the protagonists of the film, who reunite for a fishing trip. The directors cite Kelly Reichardt’s “Old Joy” as an inspiration for their film.
What It’s About: The documentary follows two old friends J.T. Van Zandt and Alex “Xenie” Hall on a winter fly fishing trip to Canada. As they attempt to reconnect, they struggle with how time has changed them and their friendship.
Says director Kahlil Hudson: “Fly fishing is a meditative, internal and often lonely activity punctuated with brief, intense bouts of triumph and dispair–as J.T. puts it: a microcosm of life itself. We began filming without knowing where the story would lead, but with the confidence that whatever we discovered would reveal a truth about old friendships–why they last or why they are abandoned. We also wanted to explore other ideas such as coming to terms with the road not taken, the faded glory of the American West explorer, and what happens when our idols fall.
“As filmmakers our story somewhat parallels the documentary we filmed. Tyler and I are old friends that had gone our separate ways some 15 years ago, having kept in touch with the occasional phone call every few years. We began shooting the film almost as an exercise and excuse to break away from our day jobs. Tyler is a photographer, writer and mechanical engineer and I work as a DP on documentaries and commercials.
“One of the biggest challenges was providing just enough technical information to give non-fisherman enough context to understand the conflicts that arise over fishing ideologies without dumbing down the language. The production itself was physically challenging as well, with days spent wading waist deep in the sub-freezing waters of British Columbia’s steelhead rivers.
“We hope our film will inspire people to pick up the phone and call a long forgotten friend.”
Indiewire invited SXSW Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.
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