Eric Steel

Eric Steel

Eric Steel returned to the director's chair last year with Kiss The Water, a movie that has now been released on DVD.

We caught up with the filmmaker to chat about Kiss The Water and what inspired him to make this film.

- You are back in the director's chair for Kiss The Water, so can you tell me a bit about it?

The film is a journey - part documentary part imagination -into the life of a woman I never knew - Megan Boyd, a craftswoman who made miniature assemblages of feather and fur and fancy tinsel.

They were lethal fishing flies on the one hand and magic works of art on the other.

- You are in the director's chair for the film, so where did this project start for you? And where did you first find out about Megan Boyd?

It all started with an obituary in The New York Times that I cut out and tacked to the wall near my desk.

Ten years after I clipped it out I decided I must follow the invitation...

- What was is it about fly-fishing that particularly intrigued you? And what was it about Megan Boyd's story that particularly compelled you?

I am not a fisherman so I am not certain why. Fly-fishing and fly tying are clearly related devotions - beautiful acts of imagination and repetition.

- Sadly, Megan had died ten years before you began to make this documentary, so how difficult was it to get a sense of who she was and unravel the mystery of who she was without her there to talk to?

I did have this fatalistic moment when I first arrived in Scotland that I was too late... What I loved was how enigmatic she was, how full of contradictions and ambiguity.

I was much more interested in exploring the uncertainties and riddles than in trying to pin her down.

- Interestingly, you don't show any images of Megan until the end of the film - there are a couple of physical descriptions. What made you make that decision?

The journey I was on, and that I wanted to bring the viewer on, was more about imagination than illustration.

I wanted the viewer to be creating an image of Megan in their minds, to wind and unwind the strands in their own way - like reading a book.

- The movie also features some beautiful hand painting animation sequences, and I was wondering what made you want to include them? Also at what point during pre-production, post-production or the shoot, did you make that decision?

The animation was part of the original concept of the film, from the very beginning.

So much of Megan’s life was spent alone, alone in her cottage with only her dreams and daydreams, and the film was always about exploring the relationship to surface and what might be beneath it, about how things seemed one way in air and like something else in water.

- This is your second documentary feature film, and I was wondering what were you able to take from your experience on The Bridge into this project?

Mostly that I knew I could make a film - even in the hardest days I knew I just had to keep practicing...

- The movie has been playing on the festival circuit, so how have you found your festival experience? And how have you found people's reaction to the film so far?

Festivals are fun and exciting but also very demanding. It’s great to interact with audiences - and they’ve been incredibly delighted and delightful.

Always like it when people come up with interpretations and new understandings of ideas I know I engage with.

- This is the second documentary you have made, what is it about this format of film that you enjoy?

For me, I’m not sure if it’s about the documentary form so much as it is about filmmaking itself.

I love the possibilities of the interplay between word and image, the slipperiness of truth, and exploring things slowly and with great patience.

- You have produced movies such as Julie & Julia and Angela's Ashes, so how much is live action/fiction something that you are keen to explore?

I think I am already exploring it in Kiss The Water and have some other ideas I’m developing as well...

- Finally, what is next for you?

Must remain a secret...

Kiss The Water is out on DVD now.

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