Q&A with Chris Hanson - The Day I Disremembered
On your YouTube channel, you propose that everyone has a reason why they fish. Today, why do you fish? What makes you keep going out time and time again?
Yes, absolutely. For some, it's to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Others it might be to just catch fish. And some, to catch big fish. And maybe for others, it's to create a big social media presence. But no matter what anyone tells you, there is no right or wrong reason as to why someone should fish. Well, as long as they respect the fish. Handle them with care. And leave the river without a trace. As long as they do that, there is no right or wrong reason to fly fish. For me, it's a little more complicated. Yes, I fly fish to catch fish. And I also like it when I land a big fish. I fly fish to continue to learn. To improve. To be a student of fly fishing. Yes, when I get into something I get a bit obsessive. In everything I do, I want to continue to learn and become better. But today? The fundamental reason why I fly fish is to disconnect, relax, and reset. To leave all of my troubles and worries behind for the day. And there are days that I walk the river and casting to a fish is almost secondary as I am content with the sound of the river and my surroundings. Some days I don't feel like going but I end up going anyway and I'm always so glad that I did. It's very common for Bobbi-Jo to ask me what day I am going to fish this week. Or it's been a while, when are you going fishing. What she is really saying is, you need to get out on the river. Because I need that time on the river. When I have my time on the river, I am less stressed. I am better at my job and more focused. And I am more enjoyable to be around.
The documentary shares a very scary and very intimate part of your life. Why do you think it’s important for people to hear and know your story?
Chris Hanson (CH): Well, if I'm being honest, I think deep down it was something I just needed to do for myself. And as I mentioned, I had started to write a memoir a few years ago and had been struggling with it. I had done a lot of writing but was struggling with continuing it. So I switched to this film. And then I started realizing. I think that this film could mean something bigger. And I don't mean that about me. I mean about what if more people decided to tell their fly fishing story. What if as a community we talked about more than just the big fish and next destination trip. What if we talked about why we really fly fish other than just catching fish. What if more people started sharing their fly fishing story.
And my hope is that people take the time to get away. I've always struggled with working too much and I will always probably struggle with that. But what I have learned is to take the time. That I need the time. And I'm a better husband, father, and business owner because of it. My message is not "don't work too much" but rather, make sure you take time off. Life is short. So make sure that you are taking time along the way.
As a business owner, how much does the ritual of getting out into nature matter?
For me it's everything. I don't have a problem with not wanting to work. Or thinking just because I own a company that I don't need to work. I have the opposite problem. I'm extremely passionate about digital marketing and running my business so I don't think in terms of 9-5. Or weekends. Which admittedly has always been a problem for me. The first four and a half years after starting this company I spent working 7 days a week, 5 or 6 am to 9 or 10 pm at night. And I'm not exaggerating even a little. I'd wake up in the middle of the night thinking of something I should do or something I forgot. Reach over to my nightstand, grab the pen and paper and write it down. I wish I had fly fishing back then. I don't work those crazy hours anymore but it is very common to reply to emails at night and early morning. So for me to take time to spend on the water. No emails, calls, or people asking me something. Means everything. I come back recharged and ready for work.
What insight or thoughts would you give to someone else who may be going through a life-changing situation or circumstance?
Find something you are passionate about. Find something that you can get lost in. You'll always be too busy and there will always be too many other things that you should be doing. So pursue that something. That something that relaxes you and where you forget about everything even if just for a day. The only thing that I know that does that for me, is fly fishing. And I think it’s important to do it regularly. That could mean once a week or 2-3 times a month. Besides putting you in a different frame of mind, you will also leave it all behind for the day.
Our society encourages moving fast, working late, and never stopping.
What advice would you give to someone who has never gotten into fly fishing but is considering it?
First and foremost, go on a guided trip. Find a reputable fly shop and book a trip. What you will learn on that one day will fast forward you several months if not a year. It's worth every penny. From there, you can get into it as much or as little as you want. From watching YouTube videos to reading books. Join Trout Unlimited. Go to the meeting that they have and meet others that fly fish.
What inspires you?
Fly fishing still very much inspires me. And inspiring others. When I can show people that if I can do it. If I accomplish something, then trust me, anyone can. And if that motivates them, that truly inspires me.
One of our favorite things about the documentary was the poetic visuals and audio. Tell us how this documentary came to be.
Well, this really started with my ongoing struggle to try and write a memoir which is still a work in progress. When fly fishing came into the picture, it instantly became a big part of my life so I switched over to mulling this idea around about making a short film because there was this fly fishing film festival. I talked to my brother Jacob about it, then I contacted a friend, Rob Herrmann, who is an amazing photographer/videographer here in Colorado. I told him about this scary thing that had happened to me a few years ago and that I wanted to do a film. One of the most difficult parts for him was that he kept asking me for a shot list and I kept telling him that I would get him one but I never did. It was really unfair to him but I just wasn't ready to tell him or anyone for the matter what I was thinking about sharing about my life. So with the limited information that he had, he started shooting b-roll. I'm good friends with Pat Dorsey and Matt McCannel so we planned a couple of trips with them and Rob came along to take photos and shoot b-roll. That and also planning trips with just the two of us. I think at some point he just realized that I wasn't ready to give him details so he just did his thing.
Throughout this, I struggled with the script. Which really came down to how much did I want to share. I went back and forth on a lot of it and really had a hard time with it. To the point of almost deciding not to do it. The whole thing was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. And then one year was coming up and the first opportunity to submit the film and I was not ready. Some more b-roll. And coming up on another year and still not ready. Then I made up my mind that I was going to do this and although I wasn't going to share everything, I was going to really open up and share. I just wrote and tried not to let it all get in my head.
All of this and I still needed someone to edit all of the video. And that's where Tim Myers comes in. We met in New York where both of us had been invited to Salmon Camp by Douglas Outdoors and we connected right away. Like Rob, he just knew about one part of my life. I sent him all of the videos and started to finalize what I was going to say and talk about. And it started again. Questioning myself. Did I really want to share all of this? By the time I was able to push through, we didn't have much time. So I sent Tim sections of the script. He asked me about the music I wanted. I play the guitar so I told him I like acoustic music. From there Tim worked on what he had and I would send him more of the script. As he received parts of the script and the story came together, I don't think there was any question as to what type of music he wanted to use.
From here we still had a missing part which was the close-up, retelling of what happened. Myself. And my wife Bobbi-Jo. This is what I really needed my brother for. He created a comfortable place in my fly fishing room. And he has a way of making everything relaxing with no distractions, pulling out memories and stories. Once everything was set up, we did the close-ups and the audio.
At this point Tim had everything. And what he sent me to watch for the first time blew me away. The sound. The transitions. It was something to marvel at. He and Rob made it into what it was. And I don't think there are a lot of people that could have or would have just put their head down and just tried to imagine what was needed based on the little information that they had. In fact, I think many would have said that they can't do it without information, without a shot list. So yeah. Rob came through big time. And everything my brother did with the interviews was incredible. In fact, he pretty much had Bobbi-Jo reliving the whole experience. But from there, what Tim did with everything was magical.
What comes next for you? What adventure or life moment are you most excited about?
Currently, I have three films that I am going to work on that I am hoping to release. And I'm toying around with starting a podcast. One that would focus on talking about other people’s fly fishing story. And longer-term would be to finish my memoir which is extremely important to me.
Favorite Angler’s Coffee: Caddis and Sherbrook
Favorite Place to Fish: The South Platte
If you haven't seen it yet, we strongly suggest watching here: