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.


22 thoughts on “It’s official, Red Gold doesn’t suck.

  1. I got to watch red gold in a little office in Dillingham last month. It brought tears to my eyes… an incredible gift this film was to the people who have known the Bay over the years. Congratulations from this fisherman/photographer…

  2. Looking forward to the Bristol Bay Keep it Wild Rally and Red Gold’s opener in Anchorage, AK this Friday, August 8th.

    My buddies and I are getting as many people we can to show up and show our strength in opposition of Pebble. To all at Felt Soul, thank you for all of your hard work from this Alaskan Fly Fisher.

  3. Congratulations guys, from Holland, Europe!!!

    We have seen the trailer, but we cannot wait to see it all!

    When will it become available in Europe?


  4. Travis and Ben,

    I’ve watched the film countless times, and each time it gives me goosebumps. It’s been a pleasure to have played even a small role in the creation of this film. I’ll never forget the night in Denver when Travis approached me after I and my buddy Tim Bristol (who’ll now become a famous figure after his Red Gold appearance!) spoke about Bristol Bay at a gathering. All Travis said to me was “I want to make that movie.” I grabbed Tim and said we needed to make it happen.

    All I can say is hat’s off to you guys for making an incredibly beautiful and moving film. By allowing the players in this drama tell the story, you’ve given powerful voices to the commercial fishing, sport fishing, and local subsistence use interests. And the mining side got to have their say as well, which was totally necessary and valuable.

    It’s a tricky issue that’s for sure, but you’ve given us a great tool in our work to spread the word and raise awareness across the country and across the world about what an incredible place Bristol Bay is.

    To anyone else who reads this – make sure you see the film and get as many others to see it as possible!

    Back to the battle front…

  5. Congratulations …I can’t wait to see the final cut of Red Gold, I’m envious of your passion to make a change.

  6. I am from Pedro Bay on NE shores of Lake Iliamna. I am in Anchorage now, have to work someplace don’t I.
    How can I get a copy of “Red Gold”? I am going down to vote this afternoon, “YES” on 4.

  7. travis and ben

    I am a sophmore from denver and i have decided to right my research paper on the pebble mine project and other mining projects in the bristol bay region. i was wondering if know of some websites that could help me with this paper. i first heard about you guys from fly rod and reel and have seen part of red gold online and its a great film.

  8. Red Gold Showing tonight preceded by Eastern Rises trailer.
    Dylan, Sarah and Finn in attendance.
    Ben, you were the best Bitch, and I say that with much love and admiration.

  9. feel free to combine my two posts

    Your film played last night to 700+ who absolutely loved it. The place was balls to the wall, our largest crowd ever. Dylan, Sarah, and Finn are having a pretty well needed vacation, it seems. They did great at the podium after for a brief Q/A, the Dylan hit the Alys house for some post event discussion and revelry. Wish you guys could have been here. Hope Red Gold played well in Banff. Our folks here are already amped about Eastern Rises. I hope to see you before Memorial Day.

  10. I just saw the film last night at the Banff Mountain Film Fest and was so moved by the stunning cinematography, the passion of those involved in the film, and the beautiful soundtrack that only added to the moments of goosebumps and tears.
    If anything can impact the outcome of this project, it is getting not only the information out, but also showing us in vivid detail, what we risk losing.
    Thank you for your passion and insight- you are inspiring audiences everywhere to care about how cultures and communities can thrive while protecting diminishing wild space.


  11. Congrats on winning the Peoples Choice Award in Banff, I found your film to be most moving and fair and balanced that showed a maturity and sense of honesty in your work. We had to leave right after it showed because of the long drive home from there but not without stopping to make sure our ballots were filled out. Once again keep up the good work.

  12. Saw the film last night at National Geo in DC – incredible! I’m glad to see there is another screening in DC at AU on Tuesday as I’m sending my friends to see it there. I am also going to send a note to the organizers of the Aspen Environmental Forum (March 25-28, 2009). I think it would be a great addition.
    Keep up the good work and congratulations on a fantastic, beautiful and important film. And lastly, as the woman in the audience last night remarked – you should put a playlist together on iTunes, I’d buy the music.

  13. Congratulations for being some of the most amazing humans on the planet. My friend Jake, also living here in Arcata, Ca just had a showing for the film and a good turn out of people I would like to say, even though this is my first time seeing it quite a bit after its debut I will definitely be spreading the word to my friends on the east coast assuming they are still uninformed and get some more opposition from the other side of the world. Thanks for caring.

  14. I saw “Red Gold” at the Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria late February. A bunch of us commercial fisherman/poets/liars filled the theater to see it.

    I’m glad I’m not the only emotional wimp to respond with goosebumps and welling eyes. It was a rare transcendent experience. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a powerful reaction to a documentary before–hell, any film.

    I’ve been raving about it ever since to any one who will listen: This filmmaking is just unbelievable. You’ve got to see it. I’m serious.

    I’ll be showing it at the college I work at in Seattle in April.

    I’m a Bristol Bay fisherman myself. My boat’s parked about two hundred feet from the scenes of the boatyard rally. I know a few of the characters in the film. And this issue is very, very important to me. You might guess which side I come down on.

    Thanks, Ben and Travis, for creating a film of such astonishing beauty.

    Jeb Wyman
    FV Turbulence

  15. I saw Red Gold last month in Canmore, AB, Canada as part of the abbreviated touring version of the Banff Festival of Mountain Films.

    Congratulations on a tremendously informative and entertaining film. The whole theatre was very impressed.

    I feel very much more informed on the issue and was very impressed by the fine balance of the film.

    We must stop this mine from being developed!

    Good luck with your next project and tight lines!


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