Ben Potter and the team at CANA Outdoors are producing epic footage focused on the outdoors. We took a minute to reach out to him and learn a little more about thier work on the new Tendoys film in partnership with the Wild Sheep Foundation and Sitka Gear.
Ben what gave you the idea for this film?
Ben Potter – The idea for the film came from a conversation with Lyle Hebel and David Brinker during a meeting when they mentioned this special hunt that was about to open 3.5 weeks from the date we were chatting. They mentioned there might not ever be another hunt like this. When I hear something like that, it’s a no brainier to get after the story. There are so many stories being told about getting in the filed and hunting big game and even sheep, but you rarely have the opportunity to capture a story that may only have the chance to be told once. So we scrambled for the next few weeks putting a plan together for the film and hunt in the Tendoys.
What difficulties did you run into during this project?
Ben – Filming wildlife is always the number one difficulty. The weather, animals, terrain, etc. are never predictable and always throw you a curve ball, but that is why we love it. I have learned to love the difficulties in capturing nature. It keeps me on my toes and sometimes decides a different story for you. When the outdoors is your studio, you are at its mercy. Specifically in this hunt, we were faced with a mountain that was busy with hunters. When word of this got out about this incredible over-the-counter sheep opportunity, hundreds of tags were sold and the mountain was crawling with hunters. We were able to coordinate with the hunters we chatted with on the mountain, but there was still a lot of activity on the unit.
The original story we were focused on was with the initial efforts by the FWP headed up by Craig Fager. It was an inspiring scenario where the Forest Service was partnering with hunters to eradicate the diseased sheep. I think my personal challenge with this story was considering the long-term effect of eventually re-introducing a new herd of sheep. Would this cycle happen again? It was hard to see a solid solution and ending to the film. We were thrilled with the sheep we harvested and couldn’t be more pleased with the footage, but the question of “what now?” was lingering in my mind. Several months later I was connected with Kurt Alt, the Biologist at Wild Sheep Foundation. He was actually the one who hired Craig Fager, the biologist we interviewed for the film. Kurt came to me with some really exciting findings and collaboration efforts between several universities and the WSF. They were working on breeding a diseased-free domestic sheep that could be introduced to into landscapes that would be shared with wild sheep, but without the risk of infection. When I learned this from Kurt I knew our story wasn’t finished, and we then began the process of implementing this facet into our film. It was the perfect closer to the film and resolution to the problem we were facing. Even though we are in the infant stage of introducing this new breed of domestic sheep, it presents hope for the future of big horn sheep on the Tendoys and across this country.
If you had to give three pieces of advice to aspiring filmmakers out there, what would those be?
Ben Potter – CANA Outdoors
Know your story before you begin. Most times there is more to a story than just a harvest. We love to see that, but it’s the people, places, and struggles we meet along the way that tend to be remembered in the long run. Like I mentioned we had a story in mind for the Tendoys, but it was clear after some time there was more to this story.
Identify your cinematic crutches. It’s different for us all, but we all have that one thing we tend to lean on when we are creating a film. Super slow motion, a kill shot, preferred weather, etc. Most times these things can dilute a story and the soul of your story if they are overdone or depended on for a “successful” film.
Shoot for yourself first and foremost. Enjoy and be inspired by the work from fellow filmmakers, but you should always be your own #1 fan. You can see right through the work that was made out of obligation or contract versus a passion for the story and hunt. If you don’t have a passion for the work you are doing, you will always be working against yourself and the creatives around you.
Did you use/employ any new processes for Tendoys?
Ben – To be honest not much. We packed in our typical array of cameras and batteries. One technical issue we have always faced is battery power on long term back country shoots. We invested in a hand full of Switronix Powerbase 70 Batteries. They gave us some good run time on the cameras and held up pretty well with the temps. Working the FWP into this story was one angle we haven’t ever administered. It was refreshing to work alongside them and gather a lot of insight to the issues behind the hunt that was permitted.
Ben what is the next project for you and your team?
Ben – Well I can’t say much about this at the moment, but we have a big project in the works that we will be shooting for the next 3 months. We hope you stay tuned because we are thrilled for what we have planned