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:

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 (  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.

** Host a Red Gold screening.  Contact Emily Long:

* 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 (

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.

Sage, Redington, & Rio’s “A Day for Bristol Bay”


Sage, Redington and Rio step up big for Bristol Bay.

Sage, Redington and Rio have committed a day of production from their Bainbridge factory to help support our film Red Gold (which is nearing completion by the way) and TU AK’s continued grassroot efforts to combat the proposed Pebble Mine. The triumvirate is not messing around either. We are talking a donation in upwards of $100,000 and you can be a part of it too.

Here is the deal. By designating “A day for Bristol Bay” Sage in setting aside one day of production of its 9 foot 8 weight Z-Axis paired with a Redington CD 7/8 Reel and Rio’s new Gold Fly line. It is the complete package and one that both Ben and I fished with all summer while shooting Red Gold. The crazy thing is that they are donating all the proceeds from the day of production to help in the fight against Pebble Mine, but supplies are limited and the response has already been amazing. Folks are also going beyond merely purchasing the rods and donating on top of the sales price.

Help support Trout Unlimited’s work to save Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed from proposed development of one of the largest open pit and underground mines in the world– purchase a limited edition Save Bristol Bay rod and reel set –there are less then 100 outfits left. Plus $200 of your purchase price will be donated by Sage, Redington & Rio to Trout Unlimited ‘s work in Alaska.

Felt Soul’s quest for a big-ass hole


Quest fulfilled-the Bingham Canyon mine as seen from 10,500 feet. Note: there used to be mountains there. Photo by Ben Knight

As a child growing up in a trailer park, I was fond of big holes and
ditches. You know, things to hide in so I could ambush Isaac the
unsuspecting kid from next door. It was all fun and games until he got
hit between the eyes with a roofing nail. Still makes me laugh,
thinking back, but at the moment it was terrifying. We had progressed
from bending tree limbs back and letting them go when Isaac was within
beheading range to bloodshed. Anyways, holes have many practical uses
besides booby traps and ambushes. They are especially useful for the
extraction of minerals such as copper, gold and molybdenum.

Travis and I traveled to a remote native Mormon village called Salt
Lake City on Tuesday to get some aerial footage of the only man-made
excavation claimed to be visible from space. This thing is deeper than
an episode of LOST. I know that seems impossible, but it’s true. The
Mormons are apparently trying to find China. Our theory is that
showing an existing open pit mine similar to the proposed size of Pebble would be an important thing for Alaska to consider when they vote on whether or not to kill half the World’s salmon. Oops, there I
go giving my opinion again. Sorry, forget that you just read that.

Huge thanks to Sama at Lighthawk ( for all the help
with arranging our flight over the mine site and “props” [get it?] to
Larry the pilot for being awesome and keeping the oily side down.

Bingham Canyon Mine Stats:

*Number of Mormons it would take to fill the open pit: almost all of them

*Amount of copper excavated so far: 17 million tons

*Depth: 3,960 feet

*Width: 2.5 miles

*The mine has nothing to do with Mormons, just to clarify.

Mountain Home Exit


God damn that’s one big hole – Travis shoots the Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah – Photo by Ben Knight

If you ever need to get in touch with Ben and need an immediate or timely response – start texting. Here is a dated exchange of ours from September as we tried to catch up somewhere in Idaho. Ben had just put the finishing touches on the final version of the trailer and I was headed back to CO after floating the Rogue River…

Ben Knight (9/9 6:51pm): Call me
Me (9/10 11:07am): Headed into boise now. About 1 hour out. you?
Ben Knight (9/10 11:07am): Haven’t left town yet
Ben Knight (9/10 11:50 am): Let’s meet at green river i-70 maybe
Me (9/11 11:50am): Headed to highway 84 now from riv
Message Failed
Status Information:
(256) Unknown Cause Code
Original Sent at
9/11/07 10:47am

Ben Knight (9/11 9:17am): What up?
Ben Knight (9/11 9:32am): Left a dvd for you inside newspaper box @ jack in the box@mountainhome exit.
Ben Knight (9/11 9:34am):Undernearth-not inside actually…
Me (9/11 12:15pm): No u turn for us. Super bummed we missed each other. Can you overnight some dvds on the fsm amex?
Me (9/12 10:06am): Holy shit dude you have me all teared up. You killed it.
Ben Knight (9/11 10:10am): Glad you liked it buddy

The original DVD trailer still lies dormant underneath the newspaper box next to the Jack in Box at the Mountain Home, ID exit off of I-84. She is all yours for the taking.

Raw Lobe…

Felt Soul Post Production Studios, AKA Ben’s bedroom. Telluride, Colorado.

The Red Gold trailer is here folks, check this bitch out:
[may take a minute or 12 to load]

I know, I know, it’s like we abandoned the blog as if it were that cute baby rabbit you begged for as child and then left it in the cage in the backyard when you realized it smelled like mold and had a taste for blood.

What you’ve missed: [in the last month and a half… sorry.]

Our final task before leaving Alaska was to interview Bruce Jenkins, the COO of Northern Dynasty. He is the 5 time undisputed Canadian freestyle condescending champion. He spoke down to us through the entire interview as if we were reporters for the high school newspaper. His favorite hobby is to question your question, which I’m guessing is a well honed corporate skill. In the end, Bruce served his purpose, and after 2 months Travis and I were on our way home.

On the flight home I got a rubber ear bud from my headphones lodged in my right ear. All I wanted was to go home in peace, but no, I was digging in my ear canal at 30,000 feet with the male end of my headphones while Travis slept like a baby. I’m pretty sure the Mother across the aisle told her two children to stay away from the obsessed ear probing freak when the plane landed. After 3 hours of fucking with my now raw lobe, the plane landed in Denver. I put Travis on my left side [so I could hear what he was saying] and asked if the tweezers were still in the med kit.

To bring you up to date, we waded through all 43 hours of footage, labeled and logged every clip using Final Cut Pro and edited the trailer for Red Gold in two weeks, just in time for Drake Magazine’s five minutes of flyfishing film festival. We didn’t even expect to be entered into the competition due to the fact that it was a trailer, but to our absolute disbelief, we were honored with the “Best Overall Film” title for the second year in a row. [Last year was for Running Down the Man] Needless to say, Red Gold is for real, and we’re both proud as hell to be a part of this thing. Many thanks to Drake editor Tom Bie for hosting another rad event. If you’re looking for us this winter, we’ll be pretty easy to find: Either in Ben’s room to the left of his bed editing or walking to the store to get more Red Bull and those new Boulder brand balsamic rosemary potato chips. Our longest film to date was 17 minutes I think, so wish us luck. We’re thinking 45 minutes maybe? Who knows.

Dear Steve Jobs, may your expensive Mac and Final Cut Pro bless us with blazing fast ram and dependable hard drives. Amen.