Image courtesy & copyright Rolle Canal Society
OUR POTTING FILM
We were filming the first string of pots being hauled aboard, soon after dawn, just outside Ilfracombe harbour, when suddenly the whole boat juddered as the rope stuck fast on the winch. The string of pots had got caught on an old anchor. Eventually skipper, Geoff Huelin, produced a serious knife and cut the boat free. It took about forty minutes for the crew to release the boat and prepare a new string of lobster pots and for Geoff it meant lost gear before we’d started. “Nothing ever goes to plan on these trips,” he told us “there’s often some horror story.” To make each trip pay, Geoff has to shoot the pots and bring them back in twelve times so before we’d even left harbour he was worrying that we wouldn’t fit everything in before dark.
With my filmmaker's hat on I was still smiling. We wanted to show life on a potting boat and Geoff who followed his father into potting generously agreed to take us out on a working day. We also wanted to look at the fishermen’s role in supporting the no take zone around Lundy. When I begun this series, I knew we’d be hugely dependent on weather and sea state, wind and swell, but I hadn’t factored in how crucial the tides would be. The right tides for our story come round only once a fortnight so to have pots in the right place, Sarah (from Devon and Severn IFCA) and Simon our cameraman (who I’d chosen for this film because I’d seen his film work on boats all around the Overseas Territories) on board AND the sun shining, on our first day on location, seemed like a small miracle.
From that point on, Geoff, Chris and Kirk worked non-stop to get the job done. For a few minutes, we tried a piece to camera, then Geoff suddenly left frame to stop the boat running aground. And, after all that rocking around, while the boat was stuck fast, then leaping over the tidal race, Simon began to feel a little wobbly. But he soldiered gamely on, filming ‘actuality’ as and when it happened and got some amazing movie. We're not giving the story away because we want you to watch the film! We didn’t know what to expect, but after 13 hours on the boat we got exactly what we came for and more – a slice of life on a working potting boat and a story of fishermen and conservationists working together to promote a sustainable fishery.
We are waiting for some more sunshine to film a few more shots (from land) – then we will finish editing this film and it will be available to watch and share.