Frankie Marion and C1 Films have been involved in an exciting fly fishing adventure and related film endeavor called the Xplor Project. As a site dedicated to fly fishing travel, The Venturing Angler has been paying close attention to the ventures of Frankie Marion and crew. Frankie recently sat down to take on some questions about the Xplor Project:
First, what is the Xplor project?
That’s been one of the hardest things to explain in a short amount of time thus far. Xplor was/is an idea to place some extreme limitations on yourself and see if you can perform. In this case, providing food/water, navigation, and fly fishing. I wanted to do something adventurous and away from people. Not that I dislike people by any means, but more the safety element. When you get away from everything that’s comfortable, you have to adapt. That’s where Xplor has been so much fun to create and now produce. I wanted to test all of my abilities with some extreme consequences. If I am not as good at fly fishing as I think I am, I won’t be able to eat. If I’m not as good at navigation on the water, then I’m not going to make it to my final destination. Xplor is this. It’s a film series with a strict set of rules that force you to use what skills you have, or think you have, to provide for yourself. So the rules are:
- All protein must come from the environment
- All of a fly rod, hand spear, or cast net
- No resupplying outside of preset points
- Minimal use of technology
The main goal in this is to have a plan and to stick to it, and if you don’t, there will be consequences, i.e. you don’t eat…
Oh yeah, and film it all!
What has driven you to take on such demanding trips?
I’ve always loved the outdoors and the adventure it brings with it. As a kid, the thought of waking up early and leaving in the dark was always super exciting to me, and still is for that matter. I always read old stories of hunting and fishing, where the people really had to “rough it” to get to the birds or fish or whatever. I felt like I missed those places in the generation I was born into merely because there were more people on the planet now and those places weren’t as available anymore. So I wanted to try to find that adventure again and try to go about it in some of the same ways as the people I’d read about did. It really strips down the experience for me into the best parts. We get to immerse ourselves into these ecosystems and really interact with them over a longer period of time that’s uninterrupted. In doing that you really start to hear, see, and smell things differently out there. In the end, that’s what keep me going back, and to do it with close friends, makes it that much more enjoyable.
What challenges do you encounter when taking on such a big project?
Where to begin … I guess the first would be the skiff. We shot the pilot for this in the Bahamas last year. We took way too much stuff. Like WAY to much … The boat was loaded to the gills and there was no room to operate without a central campsite. I really wanted to be able to stay on the fish if I needed to. So for this round, I am building a one off “mothership” flats skiff with long time guide and boat builder, Harry Spear, spearflatsskiffs.com. Harry has and is a huge asset to this project and brings a ton of on the water experience when it comes to building a skiff to house all this gear to not only live on but film everything as well. In an effort to make this even more dramatic, we are only giving ourselves seven days to build the skiff, Harry’s idea … So it will be interesting in more ways than one.
The second, and probably main one, would be finding suitable partners to help fund this sort of thing. It’s been an uphill battle, not unlike any other producer faces, to get your idea backed and people excited about it. We’re getting there, but at this point I’m willing to shoulder the cost to get it done. Its really became a huge part of me at this point and I cant let it go. My wife is super excited about it too …
What destinations do you have your sights set on, and why?
The Louisiana delta is going to be our first stop for 2016. We’ve got a rough course that will take us about 500 miles all in all. We will start in the western march and make our way to New Orleans for haul out. We’re planning on doing the Chandeleur Islands as well. It should be pretty badass and hopefully we can run into some great fishing along the way. As far as new destinations, I’m not going to divulge all of that just yet. I will say that the Everglades is on the list. I have always wanted to see that place like this. We’re shooting to make that one happen Spring 2017 and I’m sure we’ll talk more about it as it gets closer.
Was there anything the surprised you about what you have encountered in this process?
There have been a lot of surprises in this whole process. The main one, is how your body reacts to the process. Stripping all of the mess that we put into our bodies each day is a remarkable change. You can literally feel the difference. Low sodium, not preservatives, everything you eat is as fresh as it can get. You have no body odor to speak of, you sleep better, and your stress levels go to zero. I really want to dig more into the science of that part and am working to find a partner to do that. I think there is a lot to learn about that part of the journey.
Most of us love gear. What are some of the gear considerations you have made?
Oh the gear … That’s a loaded question, in that there is a ton of stuff I’d like to take, but it wont fit. Here’s the short list so far:
-fly rods 8-11 from Hardy
-Solar fridge freezer
-Paddleboards from LiveWatersports (these double as our sleeping setup, more info on that later)
-Katabatic: custom first aid kits and survival training
-Whiskey Leatherworks: really cool stuff
There are a few more in the works that I don’t want to mention yet. I’ll be doing on extensive videos on each piece of gear we select for anyone interested. All of these choices were made based on our needs and who made the best product for the application. Not all are partners at this point, but I’m not going to compromise our success for a check.
How has the fishing been?
Who knows, I’ve been stuck in my creative lab! It better be good or else I’ll be dropping some weight on this next trip. Hopefully we can find some epic fishing while we’re in Louisiana this fall. I know it can be insane, but it can also be tough. I want a little of both. It’s nice to be tested.
Hopefully, LOADS! I’ll keep you posted on whats happening with all that is Xplor. I hope people will enjoy watching it and follow along. I really want to engage everyone to chime in. I am going to be asking for some help form the audience for fly selection and a few other things and am really looking forward to seeing what we get. VA, I can’t thank you enough for doing this interview, it humbling to get asked these questions and have my response be valued. Cheers.