If I'm being honest, the degree to which I tend to complement all things Felt Soul Media is becoming a little bit embarrassing. But the Colorado-based duo of Ben Knight and Travis Rummel have managed to do it again with a somewhat unexpected short film, titled 120 Days: Tarpon Season. Along with the latest from Conservation Hawks, Convergence, which we wrote about the other day, the two films serve to highlight another strong selection of films that F3T is showcasing on this year's tour.
Filmed in beautiful black and white, some of which has a near-infrared feel, 120 Days marks a sort of a return to its roots for Felt Soul Media, whose more recent work has trended somewhat more serious, including feature-length documentaries DamNation and Red Gold. Like early FSM films Running Down the Man and Eastern Rises, 120 Days is decidedly fishing focused and filled with all the slow-motion fish fighting shots you'd expect to find in any film that seeks to illustrate the thrill of the chase.
But, unlike many modern fishing shorts, which often feel more like Jason Bourne movies than films about stumbling after underwater creatures with a fly rod, 120 Days does what FSM always seems to do best: offer up the juice without devolving the work into a cheap, soulless, porn reel. In fact, by the time it's all said and done, despite the bevy of high-speed-capture tarpon hookup and jump footage that gets poured all over the screen, 120 Days unsurprisingly ends up being more about the people in the film than the fish or the fishing. The film focuses on tarpon-obsessed guide David Mangum who once went as far as buying (and crashing) a powered paraglider in order to search more effectively for tarpon. And while Magnum's intensity breathes through in the film—listening to Mangum coach an angler through casting to and (ultimately) failing to coax one of an incoming school of tarpon to take the fly is a moment of near perfection—some of the film's finer bits come the film's other two personalities, The Drake's Tom Bie and tarpon guide Brett Martina who, on more that one occasion, is likely to cause beer to go flying from the noses of raucously laughing viewers.
Convergence, is the best work yet from Conservation Hawks and Conservation Media, whose combined efforts previously produced the films Cold Waters and Chrome. Its beautiful cinematography and crisp editing showcase three different groups of anglers, including "world renowned fly fishing guide Hank Patterson" (out of character), illustrating why they seek out wild places with a fly rod in their hands and why they care so deeply about preserving them. Chances are, if you're not dead in the heart or in the head, Convergence will tug at your sense of wonder and rekindle your duty to wild places.
The films join a lineup that includes other fine shorts like At the End of a Rainbow which highlights the importance of salmon to Kamchatka's mind-blowing rainbow trout fisheries, Corazon which tells the story of another obsessed fisherman, Sandflea, a guide on the small Mexican island of Holbox, who is in need of a new heart thanks to a childhood bout of Scarlet fever, and many other films which make 2017's F3T lineup worth much more than the price of admission.
Check out the 2017 Fly Fishing Film tour "stoke reel" below and head to flyfilmtour.com to watch all the trailers.
Disclosure: Hatch Magazine helped sponsor the production of Convergence.