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For this installment of F3T Behind the Lens, we sat down with filmmakers Cale Berry and Elsa Caruso to discuss their latest film “The Belt Buckle”. The film takes us to the wild, wild, south of Australia, where four competitors fight for a champion position to gain the elusive, Belt Buckle. Cale and Elsa both run @fosh_au, an Australian Fly Fishing page on Instagram.

FLYLORDS: So, who are you?

ELSA: During the day, I am an advertising creative. But outside of work, I’m an avid fly fisher, outdoors lover, writer, filmmaker, and partner at FOSH. I grew up with a dad who loved fly fishing and a mum who loved horse riding. So, I got a taste of that world from a young age and loved every part of it. Still do. Through my content, I aim to inspire and encourage more women to get into the sport and out on the water.

CALE: I’m an advertising creative five days a week, and a nature lover, fly fishing obsessed filmmaker the other two (oh, and as many sick days I can turn into days on the water too). I began fly fishing in the North East regions of Victoria, Australia. FOSH was born when I started bringing my camera with me on every trip to begin documenting the incredible places and great fish we were catching.

FLYLORDS: How did this film turn from an idea into reality?

ELSA: With the Belt Buckle, we wanted to branch away from the more traditional fishing films you see and focus on a story-based narrative rather than a documentary about one trip. We wanted to blur the genre lines, melding together Australian sarcasm, epic westerns, and of course, fly fishing. 

However, due to the utterly unpredictable nature of the sport, following a script word for word was impossible; no one could predict who would catch what. In truth, we wrote the script in sections and filmed as we wrote, starting with the things we could control; the legend of the Belt Buckle, the rivalries, and the characters. As the season went on, we documented each trip and every great fish, filming constantly, working each notable moment into the story, and dropping it all into our editing software. It was a fascinating exercise in creativity, patience, and adaptability.

FLYLORDS: Were there any difficulties around filming when fishing was slow, there was bad lighting, or, etc.?

CALE: The filming of this project had its ups and down. Our main difficulty was that this entire film had to be shot over one full fishing season. It wasn’t just one trip’s worth of footage and content to sort through. This was 4-5 months of footage shot across Victoria and Tasmania. And just like every fisherman knows, you can never really tell when something amazing might happen on the water, so we had to try and film as much as possible. The second most significant difficulty would have been the ever-changing story that developed over the season. We had storyboarded and planned out the entire film, characters, and backstory, but we couldn’t predict who would catch what. But thanks to long-life batteries and being vigilantly behind the camera at all times, it came together in the end and was well worth it. 

FLYLORDS: We’re there any stressful moments for the crew with the fear of not getting to take the prize home: the belt buckle?

CALE: The season was truly a wild ride! The one thing we needed was a big fish to round off the season and to win The Belt Buckle. This isn’t exactly the easiest thing to plan. No matter how many trips you go on, a big monstrous brown or rainbow trout isn’t a given. However, it wasn’t long into the season when two of us out of the four had caught some stunning fish, and that fear soon disappeared. 

ELSA: Unlike my character in the film, I’m not a particularly competitive fly fisher. Don’t get me wrong, I love catching great fish and showing these boys what’s what, but I have other goals on the water, like enjoying myself. It was more stressful ensuring that the whole cast caught some good fish to really raise the tension of the film.

FLYLORDS: Do you have a favorite shot from the film, can you give us a backstory on it?

ELSA: I have two. My first one has to be Max fighting that sea run smelter. Everything about that sequence is perfect. Max’s performative fighting style, with the slow but dramatic music and the fish flipping out of the water… You can’t get a better shot than that. The second is Riley’s title card shot. His eyebrow raises just at the perfect moment, casting a fierce and hilarious air around the character. It sets him up perfectly. 

CALE: It’s hard for me to pick a favorite shot. It might have to be the same as Elsa’s favorite, the shot of Riley walking through some prehistoric tree stumps in the water, the scenery in that location is next level, and Riley’s hair illuminates the shot.

FLYLORDS: What equipment were you using to shoot the film?

CALE: As any fisherman knows, there’s nothing like packing light while spending long days on the water, so I try and help myself the best I can with a small, nimble, but very powerful camera. We use the Canon R5, a fantastic all-around camera that covers all our stills and video while fishing. The camera has great slow-motion capabilities, too, and excellent Clog RAW functionality, which is super important when it comes to grading your own film. The Canon 24-70 f2.8 is my go-to lens on the river, and when I feel up for it, I’ll bring along the very heavy 70-200 lens for those beautiful long shots.

FLYLORDS: It seems like there was a lot of competition–and a lot on the line. So, who talked the most trash on the water?

ELSA: I think everyone will agree with me on this one… Cale… definitely Cale. No question about it.

FLYLORDS: Was there any instance of “the one that got away” that could have changed the champion on the belt buckle?

ELSA: I am already getting annoyed thinking about losing this fish. So, Cale and I got up early on the last day of one of our trips to the high plains to get some good drone footage of both of us fishing. Cale had only had this drone for a week or so, and he was still figuring it all out, so he wasn’t the speediest with getting it up in the air or back down. I was standing in the middle of a stunning, wide stretch of water. It would have been roughly twenty meters across, and I was standing directly in the middle. Cale was downstream on the left bank, controlling the drone hovering above me. It had been very slow, with little activity, but the sun and some bugs were coming out. Long story short, I cast across to the right bank and hooked onto an absolute monster. I didn’t have a net because it looked messy in the shot. I began screaming to Cale to come over with the net as I fought this fish. Getting to the bank was impossible, so I got it right in front of me. I could see it in the water. Cale was still trying to land the drone, and taking forever, I might add. The fish popped off just as he landed the drone and started to leg it over to me. I was devastated. It could have been the winning fish… It’s still a sore spot for us. We don’t really talk about it.

FLYLORDS: What’s next for the Fosh team?

Not even we know! And that’s what we love about it. But we’re hoping to move further away from the documentary style regularly seen in the fishing world and push our storytelling further into another short film, potentially in the horror genre. We are always looking for ways to create more, do more, and be more innovative with what we make. It’s what we love to do.

FLYLORDS: Is there anyone you want to thank for helping this film come to life?

Huge thanks to the rest of the cast, Riley Berry and Max Caruso. The film wouldn’t have been possible without them and the amazing characters they portrayed in the film. Also, a special thanks to both of our sponsors Manic Tackle Project and Smith Optics Au. We use their products religiously; they make our time fishing on the water the most enjoyable it can be.

Special thanks to Cale & Elsa for taking the time for an interview, be sure to follow along for more content on their page, @fosh_au. To check out the full film, click here to see The Belt Buckle. Stay tuned for more iterations of the Fly Fishing Film Tour, F3T Behind the Lens segment by clicking here. 

To see the full film attend a 2023 F3T Premiere, click here to find a local showing and purchase tickets.

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