Not really—we just forgot to update the blog for two years because we’ve been a tad self conscious about making marketing documentaries. There’s really NOTHING wrong with marketing documentaries, we just prefer long term projects.

Just a quick catch up on what happened in the last two years: Eastern Rises, despite my forecast of total suckage, didn’t suck I guess. It’s been one of the best reviewed fly fishing films that we’re aware of—and it did surprisingly well on the film festival scene. I think winning “Best Mountain Sport Film” at the Banff Film Festival was kind of a big deal, considering that category had traditionally been dominated by healthy budgeted skiing, climbing and biking films. It was pretty dang exciting to break down that barrier for the sport of fly fishing.

Travis married this lovely chick Melissa, and I was his best man. I’m still surprised he picked me, but I was honored. We went back to Baja to chase roosters for Travis’s bachelor party. Frank proved that he is the best rental car rally racer of all time, and I caught my first rooster on the last day after Travis accused me of “not trying hard enough.” Instead of using my anger to beat him with an empty tequila bottle—I channeled it into my fly rod. I had actually given up that day, and was taking my clothes off to go swimming… and of course here comes my fish. I was half naked in the photos, but at least I got it done, and Frank [Smethurst] looked like a proud father when he helped me land it.

Despite our total lack of social media skills, we’ve still been fairly busy. Well, to be honest… Travis has been busy. I personally like to work in “spurts.” If that big-ass geyser in Yellowstone only went off once a day, and occasionally only once a month—that would be equivalent to my productivity in the last two years. We’ve worked on short films for The Rainforest Alliance, The Telluride Tourism Board, Nextel, Hawaii Airlines, Scott Fly Rod Company. I’ve also been filming for Suzan Beraza’s new flick “Uranium Drive In.” Suzan and her crew is best known for their film “Bag It” which has been creating massive change in people’s thinking about plastic bag use all over the world.

Currently we’re in northern British Columbia working on our new film, “Amend.” Travis hasn’t embraced the working title yet… but I figured I’d just put it out there to see what people thought.

Amend: [1] to change for the better; improve: to amend one’s ways [2] to remove or correct faults; rectify

The film is about what appears to be nation-wide movement behind the removal of dams and the push to restore spawning grounds for native sea run fish. Yup, fish again. More fish. That’s what we do. Some guy named Yvon who makes fancy clothes and his son-in-law Matt have asked us to make the film, and we’re going to do our best to tell another story that needs to be told. [bk]


Jim Bartschi and Ian Crabtree at the Scott Fly Rod Co. asked us to make them a little video so folks could get a feel for where their favorite fishing tools come from. We’re calling this a “marketing documentary.” If a commercial and a documentary had a sultry, drunken one night stand—and the documentary slapped the commercial around a little bit and said dirty things like: “You’ve never had it like this before have you?” this is what you’d get, nine months later. [bk]

Eastern Rises is done — well, sort of…

We’ve been getting a lot of e-mails like this one due to Ben being the slowest editor EVER:

Dear Felt Soul Media,
When the hell is Eastern Rises going to be available for purchase? 
Thanks for the time, 


Well Josh, Eastern Rises is finally done – almost.  It has taken us a bit longer than planned, but the final film is our best to date and hopefully will be judged to be worth the wait. ER will premier at the 2010 Telluride Mountainfilm Festival (mountainfilm.org) at the end of May. The DVD will be released soon after the premier.  We thank you for your patience and continued interest.

In the meantime we started a mini-site for ER at www.easternrises.com, there’s not much to see there at the moment besides some Russian mosquitos doing pull ups and the ER trailer, but as we get closer to dropping the DVD we will get it fully dialed and worth a visit.  Stay tuned.

Smethurst Successfully Spawns


It’s a proud day at Felt Soul headquarters as we welcome Mallory Dolores Smethurst [the little girl at the bottom left who isn’t crying] to the team. She’s 5 days old now and according to Frank “she’s already double hauling in her crib and scanning the horizon for fish.” It seems like yesterday when Frank was pale as a ghost and scared shitless when he found out what he’d done, but we all knew he’d make an incredible father. Frank, Carol, we love you and we’re so happy for you.

The gift that keeps on giving…

It was starting to feel like a never-ending awkward moment… 
A situation you walked into carelessly without consideration of how you’d escape. I wanted to design the Red Gold DVD myself, but if there’s anything I’m slower at than editing it’s design. I’m convinced Travis had dreamed of killing me in my sleep with an icicle with one hand while texting a professional designer with the other. “It’s done, you may begin the design” he would text. I made the mistake of telling Travis that I wasn’t positive the play button in the DVD menu would actually function… [Apple’s DVD Studio Pro was created by Satan under the label “unintuitive torture device”] I didn’t realize the impact my concern about the play button would make on Travis. I don’t think he slept well for a month, and I’m pretty sure his girlfriend didn’t get any foot rubs during this anxiety ridden time.
When the 5,000 DVD’s arrived by semi in Denver, we quietly off-loaded the boxes into Travis’s garage and didn’t speak until a the first DVD was loaded into the player. While the menu loaded, I gritted my teeth and rubbed my forehead almost anticipating a headache. Travis looked pale and prepared for disappointment as he glanced at the remote for the play button. Thank fuck, it played. It took a full two years for us to get to this point… a man-hug happened… Travis said I could be his friend again and we congratulated each other on a job well done. This is where you’d click to order a DVD if you like that sort of thing: www.feltsoulmedia.com/products

What’s up with Pebble? How can I help?


—The latest update from Lauren Oakes [Red Gold co-producer]

In addition to all the inquiries we get about where one can acquire the soundtrack, my inbox is flooded every day with emails that go like this: “I saw Red Gold… It made me cry [men, women, children all write this]…What’s going on with Pebble right now and can I help?”  Of course the answer is Yes! Yes! Yes!

On November 14, 2008, Ben and I stood before 500 people at the National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to show Red Gold [what an honor].  On the very same day, just a block away from the theater in the Bureau of Land Management building, President’s Bush’s staff put out a Record of Decision for the Bristol Bay Area Management Plan.  It opened nearly 2 million acres of federal land surrounding the Pebble Site to mining exploration.  2 million acres.  So while citizens continue to battle development of the Pebble mine on Alaskan State land, we now face the worst – Pebble amidst a mining district in the heart of the world’s largest remaining sockeye salmon fishery.  When the Obama administration comes into office, our leaders of change will have 30 days to reverse this decision.

State Land. Federal Land. To me, the land classifications are borders drawn for management purposes.  But in reality Bristol Bay and its pristine waters, the abundant wild salmon runs, the life this watershed sustains are global resources we cannot replace.  We need more people standing up saying “No – not here, not this place.  Wrong location. A risk not worth taking.”

Support for gaining permanent legislative protection for the Bristol Bay watershed continues to grow.  The Trout Unlimited Alaska program is currently engaged in a number of projects to stop development of the Pebble Mine.  We are placing emphasis on necessary science research so we can understand more of the critical water and habitat issues.  We are also working with state and federal policymakers to support legislative protection, and we are leading a nationwide campaign to educate and engage salmon consumers on the values of wild salmon conservation and cuisine (www.whywild.org).  We continue to raise state, national, and international support for protecting this world-renowned watershed, a mosaic of unconfined rivers supporting nearly a 1/3 of our wild salmon supply.

Yes! You can help.

**** Write members of congress today and express you support for protecting the watershed from mining development.  Ask the new administration to keep BLM lands in Bristol Bay closed to mining.

*** Donate.  I hate this part about asking for money but it’s true;  to do more good work to protect Bristol Bay we need more financial support and that’s the simple reality they taught me here in non-profit world.  http://www.savebristolbay.org

** Host a Red Gold screening.  Contact Emily Long:  emily@feltsoulmedia.com.

* When you’re at the grocery, or at your favorite restaurant… please request wild salmon. You’ll be supporting sustainable, well-managed fisheries and increasing the demand for what Bristol Bay is famous for. Avoid the farmed stuff unless you have a thing for artificially colored dinner.

And then lastly I’d like just like to thank the people who believed in this project, Ben and Travis for asking questions and listening, and then all those who understand there are still some places left on this planet we must protect.   Please go flood the email boxes of your congressman and tell them they have a chance to save one of our last great salmon runs.    – Lauren (loakes@tu.org)

It’s official, Red Gold doesn’t suck.

A Ben & Travis man-hug ensues as Red Gold recieves a standing ovation at it's premiere.

A Ben & Travis man-hug ensues as Red Gold receives a standing ovation at it's premiere. Photo courtesy of Mountainfilm

Approximately a billion people lined up [see photo below] outside Telluride Colorado’s Michael D. Palm Theater for the premiere of Red Gold, a venue that seats only 600. Needless to say, hundreds were turned away. With the quarter million dollar HD projector warming up in the booth, Mountainfilm’s festival security staff opened the doors and began confiscating weapons and real estate licenses. My eyes widened the moment the film filled the screen. Seeing it bigger than life amongst a standing room only crowd was the moment I had tossed and turned over for months. I gave Travis a squeeze on the leg that probably summed up about twenty emotions in one gesture. A solid year of our work had been compressed into 54 minutes. Short of a freak projector explosion, it was finally time for some hot Red Gold action.

The line of 78,000 wrapped from the theater around the soccer field and up Colorado Ave. across from the grocery store. Photo Courtesy of Mountainfilm

A line a billion strong wrapped from the theater around the soccer field and up Colorado Ave. across from the grocery store. Photo Courtesy of Mountainfilm

To see a crowd of that size sit still, for that long, without so much as a fidget and gaze upon what you’ve poured your heart into was a humbling experience. When the credits rolled the applause began. It felt like it lasted forever. Festival Director David Holbrooke invited Travis and I onto stage after the last credit had passed and something happened that I didn’t anticipate at all. My heart broke as I walked down the dimly lit aisle with Travis and realized every person in the theater was on their feet. A standing ovation with an energy that left me trembling. I held my hand against my eyes, trying to hold back the tears and peeked through my fingers at the crowd. My arms and hands were tingling. This was one of those moments that will probably define my life I think. No matter what happens next I’ll always have this memory. This was the best night of my life. Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, I remembered that my Dad was there.

The Audience Choice Award ballots didn't have to be counted because the Red Gold pile was kinda bigger than the others.

The Audience Choice Award ballots didn't have to be counted because the Red Gold pile was kinda bigger than the others. Photo by Nick Wolcott

Two days later, after another sold-out showing, Red Gold won the Mountainfilm Festival’s Audience Choice Award and the Festival Directors Award. I hadn’t been thinking about what I’d say if we actually won something, so my portion of the acceptance speech was a gaping hole of things not said. All I remember saying was that Red Gold was the most important thing I’ve ever done. I guess that sums it up well enough. The Telluride Mountainfilm Festival is the reason I picked up a video camera and started editing in the first place. The impassioned people who gather here and share the work they create is the single most inspirational thing I can imagine. I used to be a “slide projector bitch” for Mountainfilm so I could get a free pass and meet my hero still photographers. For 13 years Mountainfilm has drilled into my head how powerful photographs and documentaries can be. Winning those awards has blown my mind. I really can’t believe they’re sitting here in my room.