How did you get into filming?
Beattie: My grandfather [Bob Beattie] worked in television most of his career. He had a show on ESPN and before that had a part in ABC’s Wide World of Sports. He also commentated for the Olympics. So, I guess I kind of grew up around it. I looked up to him and was able to play with all kinds of cameras as a kid. When I got into college, that’s when all the digital stuff started coming out, and then Mac hit with editing software. I remember my grandfather shot film and, in order to produce these shows, he’d have to fly to New York and go into these expensive studios for editing. So all of a sudden, the unreachable became feasible.
Did you start off filming fly-fishing?
Beattie: Growing up in Woody Creek, Colorado, I basically shot anything outdoors. In college, I started editing and trying to put together little films. When I started guiding, I began carrying cameras around. It’s funny because there were a lot of younger filmmakers shooting at the time, and interestingly enough, we all had a similar style. I think we all just wanted to document the sport in a different way and mimic what the ski and surf films were coming out with.
What is your fly-fishing background?
Beattie: I started when I was about 3 years old and began working in a fly shop at 14. Four years later, I became a guide and did that for 10 years. For fun, I fished Florida fairly regularly for tarpon with guides like Harry Spear.
**Is it fair to say that you’ve done a good bit of filming in salt water? **
Beattie: I’d say so. I’ve done a lot of exploratory stuff in the South Pacific, and now I’ve actually tallied about a month being behind the lens aboard some of the best blue-water boats in the world. Other than that, I’ve spent a ton of time in the Yucatán filming and even lived in Florida for a while. So yeah, I’ve seen a lot of salt water for a mountain boy.
Are there any particular saltwater projects that you are especially proud of?
Beattie: I think the project that I just did in Mexico. We went to the Scorpion Atoll, and I feel that it was the most successful project that I’ve been a part of.
Tell me more about the Scorpion trip.
Beattie: My friend Mike Dawes invited me along on this expedition to help put it together and film it. We spent about a year and a half on logistics. And then we rallied a crew that was two Mexican guys and three gringos. We had to pull the permitting and all that good stuff. The goal was to go out and explore this huge atoll with basically no intel, try and figure it out and make a documentary with only four days to film because that’s all the permits would allow.
Did you have any prior knowledge as to what species you might find?
Beattie: You know, you can Google it and find a little bit of information about it, but it doesn’t talk about fishing at all. I had a friend who went there for less than a day. He didn’t have access to a small boat so he strictly wade-fished. He managed to get some bonefish, but outside of that we had no idea. In fact, the only map we had to go off of was from around the 1840s or ’50s, so we really had no idea what kind of water we were working with.
Where exactly is the Scorpion Atoll?
Beattie: It’s about 130 miles north of the Yucatán out in the middle of the gulf.
How was the fishing?**
** Beattie:** We got off the boat and hit the first island before we set up camp or anything. Everyone grabbed a rod and set out on their own. Personally, I walked about 50 feet down the beach and saw a huge tail. It was actually a pretty nice bonefish.
I even saw a few permit. When I turned the corner, the whole crew ended up in the same spot and everyone was doubled up. It was really cool because we had no idea what we were getting into, so it was nice to hook up right off the bat.
Also, the bonefish ranged from 8 to 10 pounds, which is pretty big, especially for the Yucatán.
What did the documentary end up being about?
Beattie: There are two versions. The one that’s complete now is under 20 minutes because it’s for the Fly Fishing Film Festival. Basically it’s a comprehensive look at the overall trip; we try to dive into the film with a few story lines with interesting happenings. . It starts off with a pretty funny wrestling scene, and then it takes you on a whirlwind tour of the journey from the planning stages through the whole expedition with the high points of the fishing content, and then it comes full circle back to the wrestling scene.
Can you sum up what the most challenging part was of getting to a location like that?
Beattie: Being a gringo on a Mexican schedule. We want to know on this day we are going to get here, we are going to get the bags, we’ll get on the boats this time, etc. With our Mexican buddies, it’s like everyone is going to get here on this day [but] this guy might get here on Tuesday, this guy might get here on Wednesday, [and] we are going to try to get all this stuff on the ferry but we aren’t sure it’s all going to make it.
It took us about seven days to get all the gear ready and get everything staged to start the expedition. The logistics were definitely the hardest part.
What did the crew get out of the trip?
Beattie: I think everybody was blown away by the entire experience, because when you invest that much time and it actually comes together, it’s almost a surprise. Also, when fishing isn’t the only focus, you get a much better experience. We were out there on these vacant flats where next to nobody has ever fished catching 10-pound bonefish, and then we’d grab a panga and haul a surfboard behind it. Those were some of the best times we had.
I also learned from the trip that, when you are exploring or doing something new, you always think it’s going to be a challenge, a ton of work and a ton of effort. To a certain extent it is, but it’s amazing how much can actually go right.
In a few words, why are you so proud of this project?
Beattie: I think this project has the strongest storytelling, the best crew and some of the best footage I’ve ever shot.
Any other projects in the hopper?
Beattie: Yeah, we are looking into phase two of the trip we just did. There are some other atolls we are looking at, so we’ll rally the crew and get back at it and hopefully have a part two.