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Editor's Notebook Alaska

Camille Egdorf Film Captures the Spirit of Alaska

by Ross Purnell, Editor   |  January 16th, 2014 0
Camille Egdorf

Camille Egdorf with a leopard-spotted Nushagak River rainbow trout

You could say Camille Egdorf’s new film Unbroken has been a long time in the making. The film, which captures the majesty of the Alaskan wilderness, also shows what it’s like for a family to build their lives around a fishing camp. And it’s a perspective perhaps only Camille can deliver.

Her parents Kim and Dave started their Western Alaska Sport Fishing operation on the banks of the Nushagak River in 1982, and Camille was born in 1989. Her first summer in camp was spent in diapers, and in the ensuing 24 years she spent nearly every summer in camp. She grew up fishing in Alaska, and officially started guiding clients when she was 18.

Here’s a journal entry from Alaska veteran Mike Mercer of The Fly Shop (flyshop.com) that he wrote on the Nush back in 2008:

I’m fishing with Camille the first day, and it is a treat. She has spent nearly every summer of her 18 years at the camp—guiding, cooking, cleaning the privies, running shuttles, hunting moose and bear, living summers in a little guide shack on the banks of the Nush—and she knows the river like a close friend.

We watch an eagle feed its cartoonishly over-sized chicks; startle a huge moose from a bankside wallow; talk (for what I’m sure must have seemed endlessly to her) about what it has been like to grow up splitting her life between this, and small town Montana; and we catch fish after beautiful fish.

Almost as memorable as the scarlet-flanked rainbows is a 20-inch grayling she finds for me in a nondescript slow, deep run. A monster of its species, I marvel at the luminescence of the turquoise spots and orange-tinged edges of the long, flowing dorsal. I am reminded this fish may have been swimming the river for as long as Camille has been returning, and release it with the utmost care it deserves.

Toward the end of the day I browbeat her into fishing a run herself, and I am not surprised to find that she is a “stick,” hooking and landing several fish in quick succession. After the third trout, she looks up suddenly, breaking from the reverie so familiar to all serious anglers and, slightly embarrassed, reels in and slogs to the boat. I am touched by her true and unaffected love of the fishing, and the wilderness surrounding it.

Camille spends her winters in Bozeman where she studies business management, and while she has plans for a career in the fly-fishing industry, she never planned on adding “director” or “producer” to her resumé.

“Becoming a film maker was something I never thought would be in the cards for me,” said Egdorf. “It literally came out of the blue. I can honestly say that I don’t even feel like I deserve to be called a film maker. My experience with it is almost nil. But I’ve always admired great videography/photography and thought it’d be neat to try and share my life in Alaska in a similar way. So, I bought a GoPro and started filming my experiences as they happened.
“At the end of my summer I sat down in front of my computer, opened up iMovie and started editing my first film called Forget Me Knot with full intentions of using it as a way to show family and friends my life up north. I had no idea it would take off like it did, and lead me to an official selection in IF4 for Unbroken. I remember watching IF4 in the past and thinking how cool it’d be to have your own film touring around the globe. I never dreamed of it happening to me.”

For a complete schedule of the International Film Festival (IF4) see flyfilmfest.com. Camille Egdorf’s blog is riplps.wordpress.com

“Unbroken” (Trailer) – Official Selection, IF4 2014 from IF4 on Vimeo.

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