Once upon a time almost everyone living by the Taw or Torridge in North Devon had access to a boat and tried to catch salmon. Licenses were introduced in the 1800s but for various reasons salmon numbers continued to dwindle. In 2002 the riparian owners (the rods men) offered to buy out the remaining nets men on the estuary for £10,000 each. Only three boats refused the money and continued to fish. Watch this story, told by 84 year old Stephen Taylor and his wife Sheila, documenting a traditional method of fishing which may soon disappear forever.
Filmed & edited by Simon Vacher. Music by Becki Driscoll & Nick Wyke (English Fiddle) Directed & produced by Jo Stewart-Smith.
This short film is part of the North Devon Moving Image (NDMI) Boat Stories series of short films about boats and fishing in North Devon. You can find out more about the project on the Boat Stories website.
To see more short films visit the NDMI website.
I was approached by north Devon based freelance writer/producer Jo Stewart-Smith in 2013 to co-film and edit a series of ten short films commissioned by North Devon Moving Image. The theme was to document people whose lives revolve around fishing and working boats in northern Devon.
The stories are told by the people: those who own, skipper, crew or row boats themselves. So no presenter or studio recorded voice over to fill in the gaps – we film out on boats, record out on location and go with what we get.
The result is a lively series of films with an amazing energy as each film takes you on a new adventure. Martin Hesp of Western Morning News wrote of our second film salmon netting, which I filmed, “in telling their story, this documentary is as charming, colourful and fascinating a film as any shot in the region for years.”
The commission for me had come in between filming Britain’s Treasure Islands for BBC Four. This meant I had to juggle several big projects at once, both of which required carefully thinking through camera equipment and a high level of skill shooting in challenging conditions. Getting not only great images, but sound from multiple radio microphones at once without the budget for a sound-man was one of the biggest challenges, including sea-sickness.