Eric Steel Interview

I interviewed documentary director Eric Steel about his film Kiss the Water for

Eric Steel is, first and foremost, a film fan, as evidenced by the fact that instead of getting straight into an interview with him, we end up discussing director Lucien Castaing-Taylor – who made Leviathan– and his earlier film Sweetgrass. ‘It’s about sheep-herders in Montana, it’s one of the most of beautiful films… I think it’s better than Leviathan,’ he comments. We eventually drift onto salmon flies and Kiss The Water, where he reveals he has never fished, but saw something universal in Megan Boyd’s story. This leads me onto my pre-prepared questions, but we don’t stay there long, and there’s no need; Steel is so eloquent when discussing his film that it becomes infectious, different ideas flowing in and out of the conversation instead of a stilted question and answer structure. Needless to say, he had a lot to talk about when it did come to his film.

He first got the idea to make a film about Boyd when he read her obituary in the New York Times in 2001, and he says that the appeal was that ‘the original obituary read like a fairy tale, that was like one version of her life that had been spun. Kind of spun in the way that you spin a fly.’ Clearly attracted to the idea of Boyd’s story being paralleled with the art of making a salmon fly, he explains that, ‘the construction of flies, there’s the silk and the wings, it’s layered… I think they have a life, and I was attracted to the idea of building her life in a series of layers that are connected.’ Kiss the Water is as much about story-telling as it is about fishing tackle.

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