Lights! Camera! Action! It’s the world premier of “Summer on the Farmington”

Thursday night was the world premier of director Matthew Vinick’s film, Summer on the Farmington. The venue was Brewery Legitimus in New Hartford. Good choice! They had a large private room reserved for the event, with a dedicated bar, plenty of seating, room to socialize, and a food truck outside for people like me who get cranky if they don’t eat. (I had two delicious chicken tacos for 12 bucks.) The beer was likewise yummy; I thoroughly enjoyed my Dr. Strangehaze NE Style IPA.

We (I was accompanied by my beautiful wife) arrived early so we could socialize. How wonderful to see so many old friends, and to be able to enjoy being out for an evening of entertainment. Thanks again to everyone who took the time to say hello — I often forget names, but I recognize the faces and it’s a pleasure to get reacquainted.

Almost showtime. There was a palpable sense of anticipation in the audience before the film. Those are dry fly legends Drew and Don Butler in the third row, third from right and far right, respectively. Between them, Don and Drew have somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 consecutive months of catching a trout on a dry fly on the Farmington. You could learn a lot from those two, which is why I pick their brains every chance I get.

To the film. There’s a certain challenge to being unbiased when you’re judging a creative product that you were a part of. But, viewing a work of art is an inherently emotional experience, so I suppose I’m allowed to think and feel what I think and feel. And I thought and felt that Matthew’s film met — and exceeded — my expectations.

The film remains true to its title as it follows several Farmington River guides and anglers from the first day of summer through the last as they fish the river with dry flies. The footage is outstanding, from sweeping aerials to mayflies dancing on the surface to subsurface shots of trout feeding (worth the price of admission alone — props to Director of Photography John Kozmaczewski). But it’s not all just dry fly fishing. You get segments on the genesis of the tailwater, the creation of Trout Management Areas, the Survivor Strain Program, and more. Vinick has clearly done this homework, drawing on a rich assortment of knowledgeable sources, from DEEP staff to fly fishing store owners/managers. I heard more than one appreciative comment on the crisp pace and excellence of the editing.

Lo and behold, there I was, leading off the film. Our shooting day was a challenge; I learned later from cast and crew that my day was, by far, the worst in terms of actively feeding fish. In hindsight, I like that. If life isn’t fair, fly fishing certainly isn’t, particularly on this river. You get what you get and you don’t get upset. Matthew tended to use my interview bits as lead-ins to new subjects, and I liked that, too. Any time you see yourself on camera or hear yourself speaking, I think the tendency is to be overly self-critical, but I was very pleased with how the director used me in his story.

While the juiciest bits of the film are the action sequences, Vinick does an exceptional job of showing the fishing experience in its entirety, warts-and-all. You see the refusals. You see the swings and misses. You see the LDRs. Best of all, you get to see the tragicomic reactions when things don’t go according to plan, which tends to happen a lot in fishing. (Overhead, whispered by a nearby audience member during the film: “See, those are professional guides, and they miss fish too!”) Yup. We all put our waders on one leg at a time. And of course, you get to see the triumphs. There are some beautiful fish in the Farmington. Thanks to them for playing.

Farmington River guides in triplicate. That’s Mark Swenson surrounded by Steves (Hogan on the left); all of us appear in the film. Vinick uses the frenemy banter between Swenson and fellow guide Antoine Bissieux throughout the film, whether they’re gearing up, fishing, or hanging out at UpCountry Sportfishing. If you’ve ever spent any time around them, you know they’re not acting. Hilarity ensues!

Many of you will be wondering about future plans for Summer on the Farmington. Here’s what I can tell you. It will probably have another showing , time and place TBD. It may go to DVD or be streamed, but I have no further details. I wish I had better information to share, but when I find out more I’ll let you know.

All good things must come to an end, and so it was with the premier screening of Summer on the Farmington. The film was shown in two segments with a brief intermission, and when it was over we all rose and applauded. This is your humble scribe with director Matthew Vinick. Many thanks to Matthew and his crew, DP John Kozmaczewski, and applause to those who appeared on-screen to tell the story: Steve Hogan, Mark Swenson, Antoine Bissieux, Torrey Collins, Don and Drew Butler, Brian Eltz, Dave Goulet…and to anyone else I missed mentioning. And of course, here’s to the river. We are blessed to have such a wonderful resource. Well done, all!

2 comments on “Lights! Camera! Action! It’s the world premier of “Summer on the Farmington”

  1. Richard Redman says:

    How do I get a copy of the movie to show at our TU meetings? RIch Redman Lake Champlain Chapter TU President

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