Thursday, April 25, 2013

Q&A - John Arnold of Scumliner Media

There are a lot of people that I respect and keep an eye on in the fly fishing industry and John Arnold, a.k.a. "scumliner", is near the top of the list.  Besides being one part of the equation in the success of Headhunters Fly Shop in Craig, Montana, John dabbles heavily in film and still photography and if you follow the content flow on the fly shop blog and social media pages it leaves you scratching your head on how he finds time for it all.  I also like that John describes himself as a "hack" which is a good indication that he doesn't take himself to seriously...even at times when he should.

With the debut of "Tailout" at the Orvis Down The Hatch Film Festival I figured that it would be a good time to send John a short Q&A on his longest project to date, where his interest in film began, and what's next. 

What got you interested in doing fly fishing film work and where has the process taken you? 

Several years ago, we identified the future importance of video as web content. We decided that we needed to produce some video content for use on our blog. My partner Mark Raisler was already a competent and involved still photographer, so I decided to tackle the video. Coming from a point and shoot background, it has been quite a learning experience. The jump from "press and record" camcorder shooting to using fully manual with DSLR gear was a crash course that forced me to go back and learn as much as possible about still photography as well as video techniques, codecs, audio, etc. 

When I started shooting, it was simply for web content and I had no dreams of ever shooting anything longer than a couple of minutes. Like fly fishing, you grow with experience and soon have higher ambitions. While I've improved, I still consider my self a hack and have never referred to myself as a videographer. 

As part owner of Headhunters Fly Shop in Craig, Montana, how do you balance and plan film projects while keeping an eye on everything going on at a very busy shop and maintaining good husband status with your wife?  

It's tough, but we have a great staff that can handle everything without Mark and I. I trust them and am not really worried when I'm not around. "Tailout" involved a lot of short trips and kept me away from work and my family for much of the summer. My wife Julie has worked in the fly fishing industry almost as long as I have, and has spent years chasing Steelhead around western North America with me. She really understands why I would want to turn that into a video project. She also believed me when I told her "Tailout" would certainly make us wealthy. 

What camera equipment are you using and then what programs are you using for editing and post production of your films?

For the past couple of years I have been shooting on a Panasonic GH2, though I just switched to the new GH3. I really like the quality of video these cameras produce, though I think the lens is just as important as the camera. I edit in Final Cut, though I am experimenting with some other software right now.

Where did the idea come from for "Tailout" and where did this film take you as far as locations, people that you fished with, and how did it become part of the Orvis "Down The Hatch" Fly Fishing & Film Festival last weekend?

Simon Perkins called me last year, asked if I would like to be involved in the Orvis Video Initiative, and if so, what would the subject matter be. I've done a lot of fly fishing in a lot of places, but I've spent much of my adult life chasing summer Steelhead all over WA, ID, OR, and BC, and in some very unusual places (winter Steelheading is an entirely different pursuit in my opinion). I really wanted to try and put a few of these places on film, but more importantly, I wanted to feature a variety of anglers. Most fly fishing cinema features guides - which makes sense - but I really feel that the culture of Steelhead fly fishing is built around a more average person. I wanted to get a wide variety of anglers, experience and backgrounds. They all have one thing in common. They love to fly fishing for summer Steelhead. 

As far as locations, I have to give credit to Simon and the team at Orvis. They didn't want me to say where I was filming, and I didn't want to. Some of the locations are obvious, and some see a handful of angers per year.

What's the next up to be burnt into a scumliner film?  More steelhead?  A salt feature?  Maybe a "Squeeky Oar Lock Does The Mo" bloopers video?

Time for me to get back to the Missouri River and Montana. You'll definitely see a lot of Squeeky and the rest of our staff this year. I may be shooting some other locations around the state. A Squeeky Bloopers short has been discussed, but it's pretty difficult to differentiate between the bloopers and the real thing. Kinda like Bill Dance, but with hair.

Thanks again to John for taking some time to knock out this interview and sending along the images in this post as well.

To see more of John's video work please check out the scumliner media Vimeo page.

Follow along on the Headhutners Fly Shop Blog for your daily Missouri River fix as well.

No comments: