About Oregon ocean fisheries, the FILM
Commissioner Bill Hall, Lincoln County (Narrator of Oregon Fish Film) at KCUP Studio March 26, 2010
Crab catch aboard Nick Edwards Boat (F/V Carter Jon)—photo courtesy of Pacific Media Productions (PMP)
Recreational Fishermen Interviews on March 25, 2009 in Depoe Bay, Oregon
Central Coast Commercial Fishermen Interviews on April 17, 2009 in Toledo, Oregon
Dave Terry and Julia Bostwick, PMP Filming on Southern Oregon Coast
South Coast Fishermen Interviews (June 22, 2009)
Julia Bostwick, PMP Filming on Southern Oregon Coast (May 11, 2009)
Demonstration of modified trawl net by Terry Thompson at Foulweather Trawl, Newport, Oregon (September 9, 2008)
Rockfish excluder in Shrimp Trawl Net—photo courtesy of Pacific Media Productions (PMP)
Onno Husing, Producer of Oregon Fish Film
Pacific Media Productions (PMP) Logo
Sardine fish in net—photo courtesy of Pacific Media Productions (PMP) (August 4, 2008)
Video Trawl from Oregon Fish Film—photo courtesy of West Coast Groundfish Trust
Oregon’s Ocean Fisheries: A Conservation Story
(Onno Husing, Director, OCZMA)
The Inspiration for the Film
During the spring of 2007 a good friend of mine, Diane O’Leary—a truly gifted artist—called me up on the phone. Diane said, “Onno, I owe you an apology!” Diane continued, “You’ve been telling me about the changes to the fisheries and I didn’t listen. You were right! Why isn’t this story being told?”
Amen. Why wasn’t that story being told?
Diane O’Leary lives in Newport, Oregon. She was born in rural Texas, in a college town, the daughter of an Irishman and a Comanche woman. Diane worked as a commercial illustrator and has a background in nursing. During the 1960s, Diane moved to New Mexico and became a figure in the Native American art movement. Georgia O’Keefe became one of Diane’s mentors.
During 1989 Diane O’Leary moved to Garibaldi, Oregon. She began to paint the marine life of Tillamook Bay. The Watt Brothers Scholars Trust awarded Diane a grant to develop a series of collages about the marine environment, geared at children, entitled, “The Living Waters of Tillamook Bay.”
A few years ago, Diane moved to Newport. Diane became close friends with Terry Thompson (Lincoln County Commissioner and fisherman). Terry helped Diane understand the changes in the fisheries. Terry showed Diane maps of the Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA). She saw there are thousands of square miles of ocean space, the heart of the rockfish grounds, largely off limits to fishing these days—one of the largest marine protected areas in the world. Terry took Diane down to the docks and showed her how the fishing nets have been changed to be much more environmentally friendly and selective.
When Diane called me to apologize it was clear—working with Terry Thompson—Diane saw the changes in gear and saw the maps and the huge areas closed to fishing.
That’s when a light bulb went on over my head. Some of these things have to be seen to be understood. It would take a documentary (a visual medium)—produced by people who understood the story—to tell this story.
This Film is not a rebuttal to the film “Common Ground: Oregon’s Ocean”
In 2005, I attended the premier of the film Common Ground: Oregon’s Ocean in Newport (produced by Green Fire Productions). The next morning I wrote and distributed a “movie review” about Common Ground praising the film as a respectful contribution to the dialogue on marine issues.
I didn’t decide that we needed to provide a rebuttal to Common Ground. Again, our film came much later—two years later—after my conversation with Diane O’Leary.
Both films have important things to say. Oregonians should try to see both films.
The early stages of the filmmaking process
After a wave of enthusiasm I felt panic. I’d never done a film before. I would have to develop a budget and then raise money. I was concerned about having the time needed to do a film.
Here’s what kept me going. The story had to be told. People were counting on us. When the Douglas County Commissioners provided $25,000 early in the process there was no turning back.
The big surprise during the filmmaking
I planned on the film being 30 minutes long. We heard that was an optimal length. At 30 minutes you could show it at a Chamber of Commerce or Rotary lunch.
But, after a while, reality set in. On the Oregon Coast, there are at least seven different fisheries—salmon, Dungeness Crab, shrimp, Pacific Whiting, sardines, Albacore tuna, and the groundfish fisheries. Each segment covering a different fishery sector had to be several minutes long. Do the arithmetic. The tour of the different fishery sectors became over twenty minutes long. And, we needed more time to feature discussions with scientists and the testimony of the fishermen. That’s when I realized the documentary had to be 60 minutes long to achieve its full potential.
That’s a big reason the film took so long to make. We had to re-group. That’s not unusual when you produce documentaries. Contingencies arise. Many films are never completed because they are so hard to do. That’s scary to think about.
Why we selected Pacific Media Productions (PMP)
I wanted to hire a local production company. I had to be the producer because I knew the story and I had the contacts with the fishing industry and the scientific community. Having a Newport-based production company made sense because I’d spend days in the studio.
I also selected Pacific Media Productions because they had a good reputation and 25 years of experience. When I viewed PMP’s documentary on the Siletz Tribe—Skookum Tillicum: The Strong People of Siletz (2002)—I knew they could do the job.
PMP’s contribution to the production
It was huge. Dave Terry from PMP went out to sea with the fishermen to generate the at-sea footage of the fisheries. There’s a story within a story. You have someone like Dave Terry entering a really foreign world, the ocean environment, the environment of a fishing boat, and bringing back the footage.
Julia Bostwick kept track of all the footage. That was a monumental job. Julia is very talented at piecing together different images to tell the story. When you do a documentary you have thousands of segments of footage to draw upon.
I want to acknowledge what Pacific Media Productions put into the production. PMP calculated they absorbed 40% in additional labor costs to make the hour-long documentary possible. That’s the difference between doing a half hour film and an hour-long documentary. Without Pacific Media Production’s commitment to telling the whole story, we would not have the documentary we have today.
The most challenging part of the filmmaking process
The biggest challenge was transitioning from a half hour film to an hour-long documentary.
And, pulling together the film with the huge amount of information and footage, was daunting. Julia transcribed key statements from the many interviews and typed them onto 3 x 5 cards. She generated stacks of 3 x 5 cards with passages of typed dialogue. The preparation of those 3 x 5 cards made the task of sorting through the footage manageable.
My favorite part of the filmmaking process
Filming the interviews. And, later, I loved holding the focus groups. Getting feedback on the film as it was coming together was stimulating and rewarding.
The least favorite parts of the filmmaking process
Fundraising. And, the mountain of details to deal with. I was not prepared for that. There was an endless succession of exceedingly difficult decisions. The editing process is heartbreaking. It takes discipline to let compelling material go. It’s not what you put into a documentary that haunts you. It’s what you leave out.
How I knew the film was finished
At the conclusion of the last focus group, I saw the emotional impact it had. When I saw those individuals with different life experiences bond over the film I knew it was time to call the narrator into the studio, lay down the narration, and enter final production stages.
If I had more funding, here’s what I’d do
I would have provided additional resources to Pacific Media Productions. PMP went above and beyond the call of duty.
I’d also purchase more underwater footage and hire a helicopter and a pilot to take aerial shots of fishing boats at sea.
If I had a huge budget, here’s what I’d do. I’d launch an expedition with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to film the Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA). We’d film schools of groundfish and key marine habitats in the RCA and ask fishermen and marine scientists to comment, together, on what they are seeing.
What I hope to accomplish with the documentary
I hope it brings people together who care about the ocean. We hope it promotes mutual understanding across regional and ideological lines in Oregon. We are celebrating conservation and we will enhance ocean literacy with the film.
How I define success
If Oregonians—after they see the film—feel they learned a lot about Oregon’s ocean and the fisheries.
How I define failure
If the film is ignored or dismissed as propaganda that will be disappointing. We stuck to the facts and we were as objective as possible. But, there’s cynicism to overcome.
What’s Next? Another Film?
No. We need to maximize exposure of this documentary.
I’ve talked about the film with marine educators. They told me, just reading the script, they believe the documentary has enormous educational potential. They recommend the film be broken down into smaller sections which we are doing with the posting on YouTube. Then, lesson plans could be developed around those individual segments.
We would need to conform with the State of Oregon’s curriculum guidelines. Professional educators would be involved to make the film work for classrooms.