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Stepping into the Stream Q&A
Some questions to filmmaker Barbara Klutinis and her answers
We had the chance to ask Barbara Klutinis - the woman behing the video "Stepping into the Stream" - a few questions regarding her film about fly fishing women. You can read our review of the DVD here and see a trailer in our video channel.
1) What made you start this project in the first place?
My sister in law took me fly fishing in Montana for the first time about 20 years ago. As I say in the film, "The first time I actually stepped into the stream, my life was changed forever." It took about 5 years for me to find a local group of women that I could join in order to learn this sport, which turned out to be GWWF or Golden West Women Flyfishers. In the ensuing years, I had many interesting conversations with women while fishing that shed light into their philosophy of life, they way they coped with stress, and the impact fly fishing had made on their lives. I wished I had had a camera running at the time. I thought it would make a good topic for a film because I had never seen any films or videos or anything on TV about women in the streams.
I did my first interview with Nancy Leavens on my first outing about 11 years ago. The interview had some good content and became a little seed that I wanted to let grow as I learned more about the sport. In the beginning, I was trying to learn to fly fish and film at the same time. I became very frustrated and put the camera down, as I decided I could not do both at once. Then, about 5 years later, I revisited the first interview, bought a decent camera and started interviewing various women I had encountered on my fly fishing trips, including guides Lori Ann Murphy and Jean Williams.
2) You were introduced to flyfishing rather late in your life. What's the story?
My dad used to take me spin fishing on the banks of the TVA lakes (Tennessee Valley Authority) when I was a young girl. Some of my fondest memories of him were from those times, and it was a time that I felt most connected to him. He loved to fish. Those memories came back when I discovered that I still liked fishing as an adult.
I think, like many women who are raising a family, many of my younger years were spent in volunteering at my kids' schools and various after school activities. I was also teaching part time at a Community College and a little bit at the University. I simply didn't have time to indulge myself in something just for me. After my oldest son left for college, I finally started to look into doing something for myself to help me with the "empty nest" syndrome. My interest in flyfishing had been sparked many years before, and I promised myself that when I had time, I would pursue this interest.
3) How did you find the women who participate in the video? Personal contacts? "Recommendations"? Network?
Many of the women I interviewed at first were members of my women's fly fishing club in the San Francisco Bay Area (GWWF). Because I had had many meaningful conversations with them while fishing, I knew the questions I wanted to ask them. As I branched out and took more fishing trips out of the state, I became acquainted with some women guides whom I found to be very interesting because of their involvement with Casting for Recovery, which became an added topic for interviews. My circle of interviewees kept expanding as I met more fisherwomen.
4) Some are real "characters". Were they chosen on purpose or does it just show that we can all be characters?
I found ALL the women I interviewed to be really articulate and a "character" in her own right. I knew that could only use about 5 or 6 women, at most, in the final film because I wanted the audience to build a relationship with each of them as the film progressed. I chose those final six interviewees based on the overall summation of their interview, their humor, and their unique perspective on a variety of topics. Other factors such as quality of sound recording, location setting, and comfort in front of the camera also factored into my final choice. I wanted to give a variety of perspectives, so I chose the women who best represented that with their interviews.
Obviously, some women stood out more than others, and some were more comfortable in front of the camera. Some had more compelling stories to tell.
I found ALL the women I interviewed to be really articulate and a "character" in her own right.
When I finished the film, I couldn't bear to not include the outtakes in some way. I wanted to honor ALL the women I had interviewed, so I included the best part of their interviews in the Bonus section of the DVD.
5) There seems to have been a lot of material. Was it hard to select what to include?
As I interviewed more women, about five topics emerged naturally as the structure of the film: how women got into the sport, how fly fishing is different things to different people, the challenges that women have had breaking into a man's domain, how fly fishing has helped with life's challenges, and the spiritual aspect of the sport.
Some of the interviews were redundant, so I selected the way in which some of those topics were addressed more eloquently. Some of my choices also had to do with the emotional arc of the film, when women discuss how fly fishing has helped them with life's challenges. Because Lori Ann and Jean had been involved with Casting for Recovery, a women's flyfishing organization that offers weekend retreats for breast cancer survivors, I felt it was essential to include this material. Simone's heart attack story also carried an element of surprise and poignancy, and, to me, was an essential part of that arc. Because Fanny had spent a whole lifetime as a spokeswoman for women's fly fishing clubs, I felt her voice and perspective were also essential to the film.
6) There are no men at all in the video. Coincidence or on purpose?
On purpose. The whole notion of the film was to give voice to women where there has been little representation. I have seen tons of men fishing on TV, in magazines, in ads, in newspapers. How often have you seen anything about women on the streams? It's happening more and more, but I wanted to claim our place on the streams, to say that, "hey, we're here too, and we're having fun!"
7) Do you have more flyfishing video in your future plans?
In many ways, I feel that I have made the film I wanted to make about women and fly fishing. I still like to carry my camera with me when I'm fishing, but I'm not obsessed in the way I was before. At the moment, I have started on a film about memory, because my husband has been diagnosed with Early Alzheimers. Oftentimes, film is cathartic for me and offers me a way to work through difficult times. I guess this will be some of those times.