Kodiak

I’m working on shooting two documentary shorts in Kodiak, Alaska this week for AMP Studios. The first is on what life is like in a small coastal Alaskan town and the second is on the fishing industry in Alaska. Kodiak is one of the the largest fishing ports in the world. One processing plant I took footage at employs over 300 employees and processes over a 500,000 pounds of fish each day. It’s a town where bald eagles circle like vultures, scruffy men say “Hello, gentlemen,” as they pass you in the harbor and people know as much about the history of a boat as they do the owner.

I’ve been trying for a couple months to line up a trip to get footage on one of the commercial fishing vessels. Boats are changing fisheries so fast that it’s difficult to pin someone down. I was told the best thing to do was to just show up and walk the docks. So that’s what I did- and I found someone willing to take me aboard. A storm front hit and virtually everyone is staying in. That’s unfortunate because to stick within the budget and timeline, I only have this week. Fishing trips are a minimum of three to five days at sea. On the other hand, I have enough footage to make the stories work well and I’ve been able to get some more challenging image sequences, such as the Aurora Borealis over Kodiak.

Selawik

7 degrees. Across the frozen tundra and lakes via snow go in search of Inupiaq fishing for shee fish. Inupiaq. “Real people”. Eskimos. One lone caribou. Selawik lake looks small on maps, but from the frozen surface seems vast. Black specs on the horizon turn into a heard of caribou racing south over the frozen lake. Land and sky are vague. We spot the real people. They have a pile of about 30 shee fish and pike, landing several while I’m there. A smack from a club crushes a pike’s head and drops of bloody juices land on the monitor of my camera, freezing within moments and falling off. The nearest roads, cars and trucks are more than a hundred miles away. I’m so grateful to Paul and Brian for the gig.

Now it’s time to leave. This is the hard part. Asking people to speak openly in an interview requires opening up yourself. Now I’m attached to my new friends. Will I see them again?