Get To Know Tight Loops Fly
Have you ever come across an artist, then realize, after a few hours, that you've looked through their whole portfolio, watched all their videos, and maybe even know their dog's name? That happened to me when I first encountered Tight Loops Fly. Last year, they produced a video about fly fishing in Northern Maine. The cinematography and the storyline left me feeling inspired and craving to be a part of their journey. When I learned about their upcoming expedition to Labrador, I couldn't wait to find out more.
Take a look at their Kickstarter video here and read more about the duo behind Tight Loops!
Maine the Way: Tell us a little about yourselves.
Chase: We are adventures, anglers, travelers, naturalists, and conservationists, but first and foremost we are artists and creators. We met in the twenty-aughts through the skateboard and punk scene in Providence, RI, where Aimee had spent most of her young life, and I was attending school at the Rhode Island School of Design. Friends immediately, we started dating some seven years later in 2014. Soon after we formed Tight Loops in an effort to give our creative endeavors a home that could be shared with others. in 2015 we began to disconnect from our 9-5 jobs, bought an '85 VW Westfalia van and started traveling the country, exploring and seeking creative inspiration. After two wild years of adventuring and growing and creating together we got married in the mountains of NH on a small brook trout stream, and the rest, as they say, is history.
MTW: What inspires you?
Chase: I'm inspired by the vast wonders of the natural world. No matter how long I live, I'll never be able to experience it all, and that gives me energy and vigor to pursue my passion for discovery. I'm tremendously inspired by people who are driven and passionate and are unwavering in their pursuits. There's no better example of that than my wife, Aimee, and I look forward every day to learning and experiencing new things together.
Aimee: Yeah, getting to live and work alongside your creative counterpart means that we're never short on inspiration. The big open landscapes of The West never cease to amaze me, but being on the road in general, seeing new places trying new things always gets me sparked.
MTW: What first brought you to Maine to adventure?
C: The unknown, I suppose. For me, Maine was/is beautiful and mysterious. The older I've gotten the more I've fostered a love for places people rarely visit. My perception at the time was that Maine was one of the places; I imagined that trees and wildlife outnumbered people 1,000 to one. While that may be partially true, I discovered that the people who have made their lives in the Pine Tree State were equally as wonderful as the wilderness itself. Communities both small and large of hardy folks bursting with creativity and pioneering spirit dot the landscape there, and I immediately felt a kindred connection to both the land and the people that enrich it. We've been coming back as often as we can ever since.
MTW: What was your time on the Allagash like?
C: Wild! We broke our number one rule and went into it with tons of expectations and preconceived notions. We'd been dreaming about it for a long time, and had soaked up what little media and literature there was, all the while cherry picking the best parts. It turned out to be all those things, but also incredibly tough and unforgiving. It is a rugged and remote place, and I hesitate to say we entered it unprepared, but we certainly got more than we bargained for. It was one, in a long list of learning experiencing gained from our time in the backcountry. Never have I felt quite as small as I did being blown around in our canoe on the headwaters lakes without no other souls in site. We went into it thinking it would be a good training exercise for a trip we are taking to Labrador in August, and it was. Our 10 days and over 100 miles of paddling on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway was hauntingly beautiful, and a sobering reminder that you have to have your wits about you when you enter the wilderness.
A: It was incredible. It was hands down one of the most grueling trips I've ever taken. I think both Chase and I had visions of the Allagash being a training mission, yes, but also lots of days of sunny, calm water spent casting to brook trout. It was anything but. There was one day with a sunny, glassy lake, otherwise, we affectionately called the windy lakes, the "hellscape". Waves cresting over the edges of the canoe, rain, and wind whipping in our faces, and paddling as hard as we could with the feeling of standing completely still. I not only gained a bit of muscle mass over the ten days, but also a newfound confidence in myself and my abilities. The trip changed me, I can only imagine what the Labrador wilderness will do.
MTW: What’s the craziest adventure you’ve been on yet.
C: There's no one experience that stands out more than the rest, but quitting our jobs and pursuing our passions together has certainly been a wonderful and slightly terrifying experience. Trading security and money for happiness and adventure have been a wild ride so far and I can't wait to see where it takes us next.
A: Totally, quitting our day jobs to pursue full-time creative careers with little to no idea how to actually pull that off felt insane. Most days we're just trying to figure out how to pay the rent, but I wouldn't change a single thing. I have never felt more satisfied and fulfilled to be investing in ourselves and our creativity.
MTW: Do you think Labrador will top that?
C: This trip to Labrador seems the culmination of everything I've been scratching at my whole life. My love of wilderness, art, angling, and storytelling all seem to be pointing in this direction. I don't want to go into it expecting too much profundity, but I imagine it will be a turning point in my life. A trip and experience like this is where the rubber really meets the road, and I expect I won't be the same person when we return.
A: It really feels like this is going to be at the top of the list. There are days where I'm afraid and consumed by my own fears and other days that I feel so ecstatic that I get to be a part of an expedition like this. I'm turning 30 on this trip too. I think it's safe to say, this is gonna be big.
MTW: How did this idea come about? And what made you realize it was doable?
C: I think it was just a natural progression of what we've been doing for years. It's impossible to pursue the types of avenues and adventures we have without eventually asking yourself the question "Do I have what it takes to make it in the most remote places on earth? Am I actually in love with the wilderness or just the idea of it?". The last 100 years has taken an alarming turn for human population growth and climate change, and I often bemoan the fact that I wasn't born at a time when the world was a wilder place. I often worry that, by the time I'm old, there won't be any places like Labrador left, so I feel a great sense of urgency to not only see them while I can, but to advocate for their protection and preservation so that subsequent generations can experience them as well. I believe that our wild places are not only of paramount importance for the health of the planet, but for the human spirit itself. For me, it's an itch that needs to be scratched, and once I've set my mind to something, there's nothing that will stop me.
To be honest, I still don't know that it's doable. But we're doing it. Like I said, once I've set my mind to something, I'm going to get it done or die trying. And for the record, Mom and Dad, no one is dying on this expedition (laughs). I think after doing tons of research and giving it lots of thought, I realized that the only thing separating us from other great expeditioners/explores/general outdoor lunatics was the drive to get it done. Most people stop short of realizing these kinds of fantasies because they think its inaccessible to them, but the truth is that if you're an able-bodied and ambition person you can essentially accomplish anything you set your mind to. The barriers to entry are predominately self-imposed. Once we realized that, we just started taking the necessary steps to get there, the same way we would any other trip.
A: Labrador has been Chase's baby since day one. I was pretty skeptical at first. It has been an absolute rollercoaster of emotions planning this trip. One day it's on, the next it's off due to circumstances outside of our control, and there were a handful of times that I think we both wanted to throw in the towel. Chase wasn't willing to let this one go. I've never seen anyone set their mind to something like he does, the passion he has to create these films goes beyond want and is more of a "need" to create.
MTW: What camera equipment do you take on these adventures?
C: This trip is a little different than most. Usually, we have our trusty Sony FS700 with us as well as a slew other small cameras (GoPro, Panasonic GH3 for time lapse, DJI Mavic Pro drone) and we've been shooting at 1080p for web delivery. I knew from the start that I wanted to master "Big Land" in 4K, which meant a total overhaul of our kit. We also wanted to explore newer, smaller, and lighter gear that could be effectively utilized in remote settings. This needed to reach a number of criterion with battery life being paramount. Remember, there's no power out there. This meant that a whole new set of variables involving solar charging and remote power needed to be addressed as well. The new Sony Alpha 7III seemed to check all the boxes for us, and we've made it our primary camera for the project. It's small, powerful, and great on battery life. The problem with small and light cameras, however, is that they are very sensitive to telegraphing movement from the operator. For this reason, we've decided to bring a motorized gimbal for smooth operation under challenging conditions (think tracking shot while walking across the rugged and uneven Labrador tundra). We chose the Zhiyun Crane 2 for its excellent battery life and compact size. We are using Goal Zero products to keep pour devices charged, and we'll also be bringing our Mavic Pro, a Sony RX100V with an underwater housing to replace our GoPro, and the FS700 paired with a Shogun Ninja Inferno to maximize its 4K capabilities. The latter setup will likely spend most of the trip in a pelican case and will be utilized sparingly for high-speed shots.
A: I'll be taking my Canon 5d mark iii. I usually always try to carry some type of film camera with me, so I may opt for my 35mm Voigtlander Bessa R4M too.
MTW: Where do you tend to find the story when putting together a film?
C: To be honest, I sort of let the story find me. I don't recommend this technique, especially when you're looking to articulate your vision to potential sponsors and investors (laughs) but its true. The world is full of interesting stories waiting to be told, and every time I try and force one together it slaps me in the face and does its own thing. I've learned over the years to be a keen observer and good listener, and I let our projects evolve organically. Reality is usually stranger than fiction anyway, so once we've settled on a jumping off point I just let things unfold and do my best to follow it where it leads me and listen to my instincts.
MTW: Any hesitations going in?
C: Absolutely none! I couldn't be more ready to get out there.
A: Bears. I've managed to work through a whole lot of "bearanoia" spending time out in Yellowstone and around black bears in the East, but there's always a bit of a panic in me when it comes to bears. Oh, biting bugs too, not a huge fan of those either. Aside from those common and unavoidable fears, I think I will always be a bit more cautious when it comes to wilderness. At this point though, the excitement outweighs the hesitation.
MTW: Any advice you would give to aspiring filmmakers/anglers?
C: Get out of your own way. My greatest obstacle in filmmaking has been over thinking. It can be absolutely paralyzing at times. The joy is in making the art, so just start making it. If you're in the least bit capable, and I believe all of us are, you'll find your way. The only thing that can stop you from making something great is never taking the first step for fear of failing.
A: Spend less time comparing your work and yourself to others. It's a lot easier to say than do, as I spend plenty of time myself doing just that, but it does me no good. It consumes far too much of my time and makes me feel like garbage. Most days I would say I struggle with feeling like my work isn't "good enough", but then I have to take a reality check and think, I'm doing this thing. I'm working for myself full time and I have a roof over my head and food on the table, and on top of all of that, we're doing things we really want to be doing. I really can't think of anything better.
Aspiring anglers: Respect the creatures and the places they live. Be mindful, and leave no trace. Be stewards of the land; we're all lucky to be here, the least we can do is act like it.
Thank you for sharing a little bit more about yourselves and all the beautiful work you do alongside our great wildernesses, Chase & Aimee!
Having launched Maine the Way on Kickstarter, we know how much any level of support means in making a campaign come to life. Please consider backing Tight Loops' trip to Labrador here! Hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about them.
Cam & Christine