How did you get into filming?
Beattie: My grandfather [Bob Beattie] worked in television most of his career. He had a show on ESPN and before that had a part in ABC’s Wide World of Sports. He also commentated for the Olympics. So, I guess I kind of grew up around it. I looked up to him and was able to play with all kinds of cameras as a kid. When I got into college, that’s when all the digital stuff started coming out, and then Mac hit with editing software. I remember my grandfather shot film and, in order to produce these shows, he’d have to fly to New York and go into these expensive studios for editing. So all of a sudden, the unreachable became feasible.
Did you start off filming fly-fishing?
Beattie: Growing up in Woody Creek, Colorado, I basically shot anything outdoors. In college, I started editing and trying to put together little films. When I started guiding, I began carrying cameras around. It’s funny because there were a lot of younger filmmakers shooting at the time, and interestingly enough, we all had a similar style. I think we all just wanted to document the sport in a different way and mimic what the ski and surf films were coming out with.
What is your fly-fishing background?
Beattie: I started when I was about 3 years old and began working in a fly shop at 14. Four years later, I became a guide and did that for 10 years. For fun, I fished Florida fairly regularly for tarpon with guides like Harry Spear.
Is it fair to say that you’ve done a good bit of filming in salt water?
Beattie: I’d say so. I’ve done a lot of exploratory stuff in the South Pacific, and now I’ve actually tallied about a month being behind the lens aboard some of the best blue-water boats in the world. Other than that, I’ve spent a ton of time in the Yucatán filming and even lived in Florida for a while. So yeah, I’ve seen a lot of salt water for a mountain boy.
Are there any particular saltwater projects that you are especially proud of?
Beattie: I think the project that I just did in Mexico. We went to the Scorpion Atoll, and I feel that it was the most successful project that I’ve been a part of.
Tell me more about the Scorpion trip.
Beattie: My friend Mike Dawes invited me along on this expedition to help put it together and film it. We spent about a year and a half on logistics. And then we rallied a crew that was two Mexican guys and three gringos. We had to pull the permitting and all that good stuff. The goal was to go out and explore this huge atoll with basically no intel, try and figure it out and make a documentary with only four days to film because that’s all the permits would allow.
Did you have any prior knowledge as to what species you might find?
Beattie: You know, you can Google it and find a little bit of information about it, but it doesn’t talk about fishing at all. I had a friend who went there for less than a day. He didn’t have access to a small boat so he strictly wade-fished. He managed to get some bonefish, but outside of that we had no idea. In fact, the only map we had to go off of was from around the 1840s or ’50s, so we really had no idea what kind of water we were working with.
Where exactly is the Scorpion Atoll?
Beattie: It’s about 130 miles north of the Yucatán out in the middle of the gulf.