The Venturing Angler is pleased to be supporting The Jungle’s Edge — a new film that takes on grand slam pursuits in Costa Rica. This is a very cool project, and we are now happy to share an interview about The Jungle’s Edge, with filmmaker, Gilbert Rowley:
When taking on a destination fly fishing film, you can really choose any place in the world. Why Costa Rica?
Costa Rica has an amazing fishery located off the southern most point right before you get to Panama. This area is essentially untouched by anglers, and the opportunities for giant tarpon are plentiful. Captain Mark Martin, one of the main characters in the film is the only lodge owner in the area (Tarponville Fishing Lodge). Because of this it was an easy decision to tackle a project there. Also, Costa Rica has so much to offer as a country. There is a higher density of life per square inch there than any other place in the world. The jungle and wildlife were plentiful and breathtaking. As a filmmaker I’m always looking for complimentary b roll footage to accompany the fishing, and Costa Rica was a very pleasing destination to shoot because of all the beauty.
The story behind The Jungle’s Edge is a unique one. What inspired this concept?
We always like to begin a project with a story in mind, then as the project progresses it usually begins to unfold organically. However, the Jungle’s Edge was completely different. We went there with the intent of focusing primarily on giant tarpon. However, toward the end of the trip an opportunity to make history presented itself and we switched gears. This worked out in our favor since the tarpon fishing proved to be challenging. Not that the tarpon weren’t there or cooperative, actually the fishing was great! Getting those big beast to the boat proved to be our greatest challenge. Fortunately for us, this fit in great with our improvised storyline.
A grand slam on the flats isn’t easy anywhere. What challenges did this pursuit create for you as a filmmaker?
When filming a realtime sport such as fly fishing you have to capitalize on the few opportunities that manifest themselves. For example, the first giant tarpon of the trip was jumped right next to the boat, but it happened very quickly and unexpectedly which lead me, the camera operator, to missing all the best action… You never know when/if that opportunity will again present itself. Luckily hooking and jumping tarpon wasn’t a problem during this project. Later in the trip that pressure was amplified by only having two hour to fish the bonefish/permit flat. A lot had to go right in a very short amount of time to pull off capturing the moments that lead up to the grand slam. We were very blessed indeed!
Did the anglers encounter challenges of their own?
Throughout the entire trip the same looming challenge was present, getting those big tarpon to the boat. Mark and Alex are both seasoned anglers who have pulled on many large species of fish, including many tarpon. I’m not sure if it was the curse of the camera or what, but for five days straight we struggled to get tarpon to hand. The film follows how the trip unfolded very closely. We really did struggle to tame the silver kings of Costa Rica. Unbelievably, the permit and bonefish came to hand pretty easily, which was very unexpected. A quick trip to collect some extra b roll footage quickly became the highlight of the film once those fish were caught. The pressure to get a giant tarpon to the boat that day was palpable and nerve-racking to say the least.
What would you say the fly fishing community at large doesn’t know about Costa Rica?
Regarding the southern Caribbean coast, simply the amount of untouched water that exists down there. The tarpon fishery is only slightly utilized. The permit and bonefish fishery is basically untouched. Along the coast there are triggerfish and other reef species everywhere that are very willing to eat flies. This doesn’t even take into account the great blue water fishery that is completely untouched! Not to mention the rich surrounding jungle environment that is worth the trip alone. The guides there are fantastic, which is critical since all but the reefs would be pretty difficult/impossible to access and fish without a guide and boat.
Was there anything that surprised you about what you encountered in making the film?
The biggest surprise was when our storyline changed out of the blue. Up to that point we didn’t have the footage necessary to tell a very compelling story. After the unexpected grand slam unfolded the stress level decreased and we knew we had something special.
The other surprise as a filmmaker was the difficulty I faced as being a one man show. I utilized my drone as a second camera for many of the shots while running my handheld at the same time. It made me pretty nervous letting it hoover over the water without monitoring it, hoping it was capturing the shots needed. Mark and Alex were usually encompassed with the responsibility of handling the fish, tackle, helping with the boat, etc… I guess personally my biggest surprise was that I didn’t tank my drone in the middle of the ocean despite neglecting it during the more active parts of the shoot. 😉
We’ve got some great plans for this upcoming year. Everything from mako sharks to nocturnal brown trout. Destinations from local rivers here in Utah to New Zealand and beyond. I’m always open for an adventure, both as a filmmaker and a fly angler. The world is our playground, and documenting it just makes it that much more enjoyable.
To check out more from Gilbert Rolwey and Capture Adventures Media, please click here.
And be sure to check out the exciting new trailer for The Jungle’s Edge above.