After days of intense scrutiny in the drama-filled dark of my private projection room, I have finally arrived at a decision in the planet-wide J&FF Shadowcasting Competition. I won’t waste any time getting to the point: The boys at J&FF furnished me with what they considered the three finalists, and I decided that #2 — “Shadowcasting in Bartelva” — is the video to take the overall prize. Now, that said, I *do* want to waste some time talking about the decision:
First place: #2, “Shadowcasting in Bartelva”
While lacking traditional Hollywood production values such as multiple camera angles (or for that matter, much in the way of editing), this film does have two strong suits that ultimately tipped it to be the winner. 1) There is a fish hooked. 2) There is a fish landed. That’s a 150% bonus onto the base rating, which allowed this video to just edge out the second place finisher, #7 (“The Stealth Shadow Cast”). The pastoral soundtrack also balances nicely against the tension developed with the obviously well-practiced and highly skilled shadowcasting. Multiple variations of the shadowcasts, however subtle they may appear to even the trained eye, also made the Bartelva vid worthy of repeat viewings. In addition to the Best Picture award, I must also give this film the Best Documentary award (for real, on-camera fish-catching). Many anglers could learn a thing or two here, and the fact that the fly stayed on the leader during the various casts indicates that our actor is a master of force application in fly casting (or is lucky). ***1/2 (the fish catching added the extra, winning star).
Second place: #7, “The Stealth Shadow Cast.”
This video was in the early running as #1, partly because I watched it first and am lazy. The dramatic close-ups of the steely-eyed protagonist, coupled with the fact that the actor did his own stunts (his casting speed was breathtaking!), were highly convincing aspects of filmmaking. If my decision was based on actor-cred alone, I likely would have gone with this vid as #1. As it is, I still must give the Best Actor award here, as well as Best Make-Up (flowers—brilliant!) and Best Stunts. Had a fish been caught (even a stunt-trout), this would have been our winner. But…the awards criteria demand that I weight fish-catching heavily, so #7 becomes #2. ***.
Third place: #15, “Shadow Cast 2 – The Fly Society.”
Avant-garde and daring! A couple of minor issues: No water, no fish, no caster, and no shadows. Did I mention avant-garde and daring? The filmmakers may have also simply misunderstood the concept of “shadow” in the shadowcast, and instead just went ahead and invented the “anti-shadow shadowcast.” And to be fair, where would we be without those willing to push the boundaries? This definitely wins the Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Visual Effects awards, but is not in the Best-Picture running (due to the aforementioned lack of water, fish, casters and shadows). Now, that said, I am going to step aside from my pseudo-serious review for a moment and say “bravo!” For real. This, to me, is truly beautiful—a real art-piece on fly casting. Nicely done. * for actual shadowcasting; **1/2 for inventing anti-shadow shadowcasting; **** for production.
I must also say that film #1 (“Thorvald´s first Shadow Cast”) deserves an Honorable Mention. And to all who entered, your brilliant and *very serious* efforts involving modern shadowcasting must be held up as examples of fearless exhibitionism. Not just anyone is willing to reveal such high-art unfiltered. It takes guts to show off your casting skills like that, but in the end, the fly-fishing world is better for it!
My best to all,
PS! Click here to see all the videos