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Last year, I received a unique trip request from a Swedish Production company. They needed someone in Hanover, NH:

“We’re in the process of shooting a documentary in which we will shoot a sequence on the Connecticut river/ Mink Brook. For these scenes we would need a following boat for the camera. Preferably as silent as possible, maybe with an electric motor. Would you be able to provide a boat like this for rental?“

They initially asked if we could do this in a power boat. After a few phone calls, and photos of the 2-6 inch deep waters of Mink Brook, they agreed that the kayaks would be the best option. Still, one question remained, “do you have any experience filming from a kayak?”

It’s like I was built for this. I was a video boater on the Ocoee River for three years, there were very few runs in my life that I did not carry a camera with me in my boat. But describing the world of whitewater “video boating” to someone over the phone was almost lost in translation. The only copies I really had ever digitized from those days were my Carnage Video edits, so that’s what I sent as my video experience resume.

After I assured them that the river and the brook we would be on is less than class I, they agreed to put the safety of their cinematographer and producer, and the success of this part of their documentary, in my capable hands.

More questions arose as we got into the particulars of the size and weight of the camera equipment. “Do these boats flip?” I put the producer in an OG Big Rig, she had no problem paddling the mile or so on the river to get to Mink Brook. I put the cinematographer in a 2021 Big Rig, and I pulled her in my Knarr, alternating from trolling motor to the pedal drive.

They were immediately astounded by the stability and ease at which were we moving. During our paddle and pedal upstream, I got to know them a little bit. The producer worked undercover as a documentarian for a project that I will keep under wraps. The cinematographer once carried all of this camera equipment into the jungle in South America on horseback. Needless to say, they were very relaxed on this trip compared to some of the other films they had worked on.

Once we reached the filming location, I lashed the cinematographer to my boat, and just used my trolling motor to get us into position. She gave great direction on how she wanted to be positioned. I jumped in a few times with some suggestions of my own, which she loved, and they ended up working really well. The producer would duck out of the shot, but got to view the footage remotely on a screen as it was being filmed. This was very advanced video boating!

The subject of the documentary came around the corner in a canoe with his two daughters. It didn’t take long to figure out that we of course knew each other, our daughters rode the same bus together to school. Up until this point, they kept the name of their subject confidential, which I respect.

(Since this documentary is still in production, and agreements made with the production company, the names of both will also remain confidential.)

After getting up and down Mink Brook back to the river, we got some additional shots of the scenery. We had a leisurely trip back to the launch, shook hands, and parted ways. I check IMDB every now and then to see the status of the documentary, anxiously awaiting to view the final product. I also went through and watched the other documentaries that both the producer and cinematographer are credited on. The production company wrote me a very nice thank you note, paid me for my time and expertise, and wished me the best. In hindsight, I don’t think I charged them enough. Maybe next time they will fly me and my boats down some extreme location to pilot their crew, wouldn’t that be cool!