Salmon Netting on the Taw and Torridge is the second short film to be released in the North Devon Boat Stories series.
Once upon a time catching salmon was a way of life for almost everyone living by the Taw or Torridge rivers in North Devon. The salmon population declined in the rivers over the years and the number of netting licences were restricted. As numbers of salmon in the rivers dwindled further, in 2002, the rods men offered to buy out the remaining nets men. Three boat owners refused the offer and these are the only licensed netters remaining on the estuary today.
This short film is an insight into a disappearing traditional way of life and introduces us to 84 year old Stephen Taylor and his wife Sheila as they cast their seine net for salmon on the River Taw.
Amanda McCormack, Creative Director of North Devon Moving Image, hosts of the Boat Stories project, says "This film is a real gem. It oozes charm both from the charismatic couple and the tranquil scenes on the estuary. It's so important to capture lives like this on film, traditional skills which may well disappear in the future - even in our own lifetimes."
Film producer Jo Stewart-Smith has dug up so much gold when it comes to stories for her films that (rather than file them away) she is sharing them via the Boat Stories website with blogs on the film making, snippets of stories from her subjects and out take video clips.
Jo says "Simon Vacher (the cameraman) and I were inspired by filming this lovely couple working hard together outdoors and having a good laugh. We were also lucky to be in a fantastic location – the Taw & Torridge estuary – with beautiful mellow, evening light."
"I’m not sure I can row a boat against the tide or haul in a heavy salmon net now – let alone at 84! They were so natural when we filmed them – they just got on with the job and let us follow them around."
You can watch the film online at the Boat Stories website www.boatstories.co.uk and it will soon be available for viewing on DVD at Braunton Museum. In September there will be a public screening as part of the Salar the Salmon exhibition at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon where you will also have a chance to meet Steven and Sheila Taylor and hear their stories in person.
Thanks to the positive response to the first two Boat Stories films NDMI has received further funding from Northern Devon FLAG to produce four more films in the Boat Stories series, bringing the total up to ten films. Production will be complete by the end of Summer 2015 and the films will be available free to watch online and at libraries and information centres in North Devon.
The Boat Stories series of short films launches with its first release Lobster Potting and Berried Hens. This five minute documentary produced by local film maker Jo Stewart-Smith focuses on the traditional working life of lobster fisherman Geoff Huelin from Ilfracombe. The film also raises important issues about conservation of marine life in North Devon.
This new short film by North Devon film maker Jo Stewart-Smith takes a close up look at the work of Ilfracombe lobster fisherman Geoff Huelin. The first short film in the Boat Stories series, Lobster Potting and Berried Hens, looks at life as a lobster potter and explores the positive effects that the Lundy no-take zone has had on the lobster population off the shores of North Devon.
Sarah Clark from Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) explains in the film "This has been the only no take zone for many, many years which allowed that opportunity to start looking at the benefits of closing an area to fishing. The research has shown the abundance within the no-take zone, the increased population of lobsters and the potential for spillover" (increase in the population of lobsters outside of the zone available for catching).
Lobster Potting and Berried Hens is a delightful glance at a traditional family business and emphasises the importance of working with nature in this special part of the world.
Amanda McCormack, Creative Director of North Devon Moving Image (NDMI) who are hosting the Boat Stories project loves the film "We are really pleased with what Jo and her crew have done with the Boat Stories brief. As well as sharing stories of contemporary life in North Devon an important part of our remit is to give work to local film makers. We want to fly the flag for the documentary film industry in North Devon and this project shows that we definitely have local talent worth celebrating."
The major funder of the Boat Stories project is Northern Devon FLAG (Fisheries Local Action Group). FLAG Programme Manager Jenny Carey-Wood says “Using film to entertain, inform and engage is vital in reaching a wide audience of children, local people and visitors, to meet the FLAG priority of increasing awareness and understanding of both fishing and the marine environment in North Devon. "
Jenny adds "This excellent first film about an Ilfracombe potter has already been enthusiastically received by local, national and European audiences.”
All of NDMI's films are to be shared freely and will not only build a moving image archive for the future but serve to highlight the way we live our lives in North Devon today. In this film Geoff Huelin sums up "I can't see why we can't continue fishing as we are, as we've always done. Providing the berried lobsters are released and the undersized lobsters are put back and it's managed sensibly ... there's a living for everybody."
The film is available to watch online via the Boat Stories website www.boatstories.co.uk where you can also read about the making of the film, find out more about commercial and leisure boats in northern Devon and keep up to date with future productions.
Visit the NDMI Films page to watch the film.
Keep up to date with all the latest news from NDMI Creative Director Amanda McCormack.
North Devon Moving Image CIC
Gareth Alvarez, Director
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