How Far Should A Filmmaker Go To Get The Shot? by Christopher Smith and Stephanie Lincoln of CURRENT SEA

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage: In the Kickstarter video [for CURRENT SEA – already funded in June 2017] you have an image of a man fighting off another man on the boat or there’s a fight that takes place, so we see that [where the movie is shot] it’s a turbulent environment. With some of the filming that you’ve been exposed to, are you worried about your own personal safety?

Photo Courtesy of Speak Thunder Films – This Kickstarter campaign successfully raised $28,884 in June 2017

Stephanie Lincoln: I’m worried about Christopher’s safety all the time when he’s there and I’m not there.

Christopher Smith: Really? You never told me that. Well my mom is, I know that much. And now Stephanie.

You know, filming in Cambodia in particular (I’ll just speak for that) because it’s probably different in different countries but you kind of get a pass a bit for being a Westerner. And you have a certain degree of protection that locals don’t have. And so a lot of journalists who are Cambodian, a lot of environmentalists that are Cambodian are either imprisoned or sometimes disappear or there are some prominent cases of some public killings that of course never really get solved or tied to anybody. It is a lot more dangerous for them than it is for people like us going in.

Photo Courtesy of Speak Thunder Films – This Kickstarter campaign successfully raised $28,884 in June 2017

However, when you are out on the open oceans, a lot of things can accidentally happen and actually we (in the course of making this film) learned about a local Cambodian champ fisherman who was killed by a Vietnamese fisherman and of course no one was held responsible for that.

So there is a certain amount of danger for sure and particularly on these boats, they are really small and there’s not a lot of places to run and hide, you can’t just run away.  It’s like you’re stuck there.

There was a few moments which isn’t in the Kickstarter video (it might not even be in the film) but where we were out on patrol and that’s what MCC calls it when they go out an look for illegal fisherman, it’s called Patrol.

Not to necessarily go looking but when they kind of come in their area they’ll kind of go out to try to stop them and they take the nets.

And so when we do some of those things they are usually at night because that is when illegal fisherman are operating and they operate without lights so you go out there and it’s pitch black. And Stephanie, when we went out there the first time we had an encounter. So then what happens is they’ll like kind of creep up on the illegal fisherman and then they will turn on their lights and start shining lights on them. But then the fisherman have brighter lights that they shine back on you and they usually fish in groups and so what they do is they drop their nets and they start circling you and there is lots of yelling in Khmer which is the language of Cambodia. And it’s actually really kind of scary! It might not come off that way in the video, but in the moment it’s like anything can happen.

Photo Courtesy of Speak Thunder Films – This Kickstarter campaign successfully raised $28,884 in June 2017

One time I was there (the second time) we went out and we didn’t have the advantage…it was a new moon so there was no light basically and you could barely make out some shapes and all of the sudden we pretty much realized that we were surrounded four or five giant…actually I think it might have been as much as seven Vietnamese paratrawlers and you can hear on the radio and their lights start to come in when they see you…everybody knows who Paul is [one of the subject’s in CURRENT SEA] and what they do.  So they are on the lookout for Paul and that’s why they travel in groups so then they can kind of combat them better. At that point they kind of surrounded us and we actually moved away because we were worried about getting too far away from…they have a medium sized boat, a speed boat and a big boat. And if we were too far away from reinforcements in the big boat then it could be an issue.  Nothing ended up happening that night, but there are moments where…when it feels in control, it’s not as scary. But the moment where you feel that this has now gotten out of control, that’s when your warning bells go off. Having said that, nothing has happened so far.

Photo Courtesy of Speak Thunder Films – This Kickstarter campaign successfully raised $28,884 in June 2017

I think that legally speaking like getting in trouble with the government there is some risk there in terms of they could decide that they just don’t want to tolerate us anymore and I don’t think they would necessarily get us in trouble but they could definitely kick us out of the country and say we can’t come back again and then we would be able to finish our movie. There is a little bit of that fear, too, which I think is a little unfair in a way.  Not unfair…but we are trying to do with our movie what is best for Cambodia which is shed light on this sort of issue because a lot of these illegal fisherman are really what they are doing besides destroying the environment which as Westerners is why were are probably initially drawn to it.  But in terms of the people in the country, there’s a lot of people who live off of the ocean and subsistence fishing who are having a harder and harder time being able to do that because the fish are disappearing, the habitat for the fish is disappearing, they’ll put their crab posts in or their own smaller nets that just get taken up by the big fishing boats and they lose their livelihood and they also get into skirmishes with these larger illegal fisherman and so there is people there who kind of need this to happen for them (not so much for the movie) but for the work that Paul and Matt are doing and so getting that out there to the larger audience is going to be very helpful. And I would hope that the government would understand that’s what we are trying to do and we’re not there to make them look bad but to try to uh…like…correct some injustices, perhaps?

Matt Blomberg (Left), a journalist who is investigating the unsustainable harvesting of ocean wildlife and the corruption that enables the black market to thrive, and Paul Ferber (Right), an environmental activist who routinely puts himself in harm’s way as he patrols a small part of the ocean (description from the CURRENT SEA Kickstarter page)

Stephanie Lincoln: Yeah and….[doorbell rings].

Christopher Smith:  The mail is here!


Question for the Viewers:  What’s the most dangerous shot you’ve gotten in one of your films?


Check out Christopher and Stephanie’s successfully funded Kickstarter campaign for CURRENT SEA!







From the American Bankers Association Foundation – Students can participate by submitting their short, up to 90 seconds, savings videos to banks in their area that host a contest. The 2017-2018 contest, open to students between the ages of 13-18, will run from Oct. 1 – Dec. 1. Thanks to this year’s generous sponsors,the Foundation will award cash prizes of $1,000, $2,500, and $5,000 to three national winners. No fee or purchase to enter or participate.



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