Many of the photographs you see of Paducah Bank and our employees were taken by local photographer Glenn Hall. We are so pleased to share this story from the Paducah Sun about his documentary, which will premiere Friday, Nov. 2, at the River's Edge Film Festival in Paducah.
A still from Glenn Hall's "Dark Water" documentary shows Marcus Mann, of Mann's fish market in Tatumsville, with a fresh catch. Hall spent six years making the documentary, his first feature-length work as a director.
BY DEREK OPERLE [email protected]
After six years of shooting, interviewing and editing local filmmaker and photographer Glenn Hall's "Dark Water" documentary is ready for the screen.
Hall's documentary tells the tale of what he believes is one of the most unheralded local industries: commercial fishing. The film follows the stories of fishermen, their profession, the evolution of the job and the looming issue of the Asian carp invasion.
The documentary will premiere during the River's Edge International Film Festival this weekend. It will screen two times during the festival, with the first showing on Friday during the 1 p.m. block at the Holiday Inn-Riverfront and the second showing during the 5 p.m. block on Saturday at Maiden Alley Cinema. Weekend all-access passes can be purchased for $50, while individual blocks can be viewed for $5.
Hall, a 65-year-old Paducah native, was inspired after he chartered a commercial fishing vessel to take him out on the river in the aftermath of a 2011 flood.
"All the traffic had been halted, but they could allow some fishermen to still be out there," Hall said. "When I met them, I realized these aren't your typical bass fishermen in bass boats. These are some big time, hardcore guys who get out there and work really, really hard to catch fish."
In order to capture the reality of the lives of these fishermen, Hall would go out with them on the boats, shooting through the night and into the morning.
"There were several life-threatening moments," Hall said with a chuckle. "When you're out in the elements, out on the water with people you don't really know that well in these boats, you're kind of at their mercy."
While he was out on the boats with them they would talk about the work they do and the obstacles they face.
"Whenever I would talk to fisherman about the future of their industry the thing they seemed to want to talk about the most was Asian carp," Hall said. "Come to find out several of them were fishing Asian carp almost exclusively and finding a niche market for it."
Introduced into the environment decades ago in an effort to control noxious algae, multiple species of Asian carp have exploded in population throughout the region. Their proliferation has caused countless environmental issues as they often outcompete other species to the point of starvation.
The documentary explores the Asian carp issue within the context of the lives of the fishermen, looking at the market for the fish and some possible solutions.
"A lot of this problem is who's going to take these fish and benefit from it and work on it and how's it going to benefit all the different people around the region," said Hall. "They're still trying to figure out who's going to get this piece of the pie and in the mean time the problem just gets worse."
In addition to the strife directly facing the industry, the fishermen are fighting against time.
"These guys are kind of a dying breed," Hall said. "There aren't a lot young people that are getting into that industry. Unless there's a radical change in the market, this industry is going to go away in this area."
Discovering all of these dynamic issues at play were pushed Hall to finish the film.
"Dark Water," made in partnership with the Jackson Purchase Foundation, is Hall's first feature work as a director. He previously worked as the director of photography on "The Rotunda Project," a locally-made documentary about the collaborative nature of the west Kentucky music scene.
Although "Dark Water" has a running time of 68 minutes, Hall estimates he shot enough material for at least three totally different documentaries.
One of the challenges for Hall, who normally plies his trade as a photographer, was working on such a long-form project.
"I'm used to working and finishing projects some times in a day or a week and getting that kind of immediate gratification," he said. "So six years was quite challenging to sustain my effort over."
Having the film premiere in his hometown makes the premiere all the more special for Hall.
"It's exciting to have it premiere at REIFF," he said. "It's definitely exciting to see it on a big screen for the first time, and a little nerve-racking as well. It definitely, I think, gives the film more credibility, too."