Take a trip down the Yellowstone

Thursday February 7, 2013

MANCHESTER - Hunter Weeks tells stories about journeys -- journeys that move at their own pace.

His first documentary "10 MPH" follows Weeks and co-producer Josh Caldwell as they inched along the United States from Boston to Seattle on Segway scooters, never going faster than 10 miles an hour.

In that same vein, Weeks along with a small crew floated down the better part of Yellowstone River, 600 miles, the longest undammed river in the continental U.S. to make their newest documentary, "Where the Yellowstone Goes."

Weeks described a time when he first moved to Montana, after drifting throughout the Midwest for a while, and while fly-fishing with some friends met a man who said he had always wanted to travel down the Yellowstone River.

"I said: ‘Man that sounds amazing,' when he told me that it just clicked with me," Weeks said.

The film comes to the Village Picture Show in Manchester, on Sunday, Feb. 10, at noon.

"This is my fifth documentary film," Weeks said. "They're very focused on this slice of Americana, this side that's very special."

When asked why bring the film to Vermont, Weeks said, "We targeted several places that felt like the right kind of outdoor community. It's one of those places that I love, and it's one of the reasons that I gravitate towards the community."

Weeks added that he enjoys going to places that are tucked away from the major population centers of the country.

Fly fishing is a major theme in the documentary and the crew did a lot of it. But Weeks was hesitant to call it a fly fishing movie.

"It's about community, it's about the people," Weeks said. "It's about a moment of life."

But even though the movie isn't solely about fly fishing, Weeks believes that it will appeal to those interested in fly fishing especially, but also any audience interested in outdoors life and natural conservation.

"People that are avid fly fishers love the film, because we capture the essence," Weeks said. But it's definitely a human interest story with fishing he added. "It teaches you a lot about yourself, life, and death."

Being on the river, of which for legal reasons they were only allowed to travel down 550 miles, helped Weeks see his own humanity, and what his place is in the world.

"We're all here for a blip of time," he said.

Considering his own short time on this planet compared to the lifespan of this enormous river helped bring the idea conservationism into the film. Weeks was quick to point out that the film doesn't seek to be "preachy" or scare the audience. The film instead helps the audience understand their priorities and gives them a sense of what's important in this country.

Along their journey the crew met several individuals who lived along the river and did their part to help maintain the river and the ecosystem within it.

Beautiful weather usually

Filming began in August 2011 at the beginning of a hot spell in Montana which lead to beautiful fly fishing weather for the crew as they made their way down where the Yellowstone feeds into the Missouri River at Fort Buford, N.D.

But it wasn't all sunshine -- and sometimes it was too much sunshine. Near-constant exposure to high temperatures made it uncomfortable at times. And as with any hot summer, relief from the incessant sunlight came in the form of lightning storms.

"There were a couple of beautiful, spectacular storms," Weeks said.

Since the team camped on the beaches they found it difficult to find good shelter from the high winds and heavy rains occasionally, leaving them vulnerable to the elements.

"We had a couple that were pretty sketchy," Weeks added.

After battling the weather, reveling in the pure joy of being alive, and meeting new people for a month the team docked for the last time in September just as the leaves were beginning to change.


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