Sunday, 14 December 2008

One blog ends another begins...

Welcome to The Lost World of Mr Hardy blog. We're involved in a new project so this blog is now complete. Everything is still here though. To read the story of how and why we made the film its best to go to the archive box on the right and read the earliest entries first - otherwise you'll be reading the story back to front!

We've also started a new blog for "The Moo man", our new film, to give it some space of it's own. We want to follow up some of the raw milk and farming issues as well as the whole slow food / local food thing which seems to be surfacing in the making of that film. Read more about this and life on a small farm over on the moo man.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Onwards to a new film

We Trufflepiggers have fallen for a new story. It's set on a local farm. Funny how stories are so much closer to home than we often think; our door step delivered milk comes in lovely old retro bottles with pictures of each cow on the bottles, the whole notion seems somehow impossibly outdated. Kate was my fave but when I visited the farm and met Ida, I just knew she was a film star in the making. She was out on Eastbourne beach early in the morning recently, and goodness she really did pull in the crowds (more on this later). 

Kate and Ida are part of a small herd on nearby Longleys farm which is run by farmer Steve Hook and his dad Phil. It's such an interesting set up. Steve milks the 55 cows. His wife Claire bottles the milk in the kitchen and Phil delivers door to door in Hailsham. It's a great little family business and it's just so ridiculous that dairy farms like this with a fantastic provenance find it so impossible to operate in modern day UK. Steve's herd is about one third the size of what would be expected to be the absolute minimum for an economically viable herd. But he's surviving!

What's the USP? Well for one, Steve sells his milk raw, completely unadulterated, its natural goodness intact. However because his milk is unpasteurised, it's unsellable in supermarkets. Is this avoidance of supermarkets how he manages to survive in an impossible market place? 

Raw milk is really contentious though, it's banned in many countries including Scotland, Germany and the U.S. In the States it's fine to pump cows with bovine hormones to increase milk yield yet the selling of unpasteurised milk is outlawed. Why? Big business of course, raw milk is very much a small scale, local farm thing which the big dairies hate. Och there's millions to tell and I could go on for ages, and no doubt will. 

Suffice to say that the farm and what it represents is so interesting that we are now making a new feature length documentary all about it. Watch this space and the website for news and clips coming soon.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Coming soon to a screen near you?

Copies of Mr Hardy are shifting fast just now, hurray for Christmas  (I never thought a humbug like me would ever say that). The new 'book a screening' option on the website is generating quite some interest too, predominantly in the North East of England. No great surprise I guess as the film will be playing on home-ground up there. 

What has surprised me though is when I've called a few cinemas up and told them about the film, and tried the 'stalking horse' approach. I was ready for the brush-off and it was great to get a positive and interested response. Okay, so I was quite careful in picking the more rural cinemas, ones with a higher potential fisher density and in staying away from the cinema chains. I think the small cinemas really got the idea, they liked the idea of a quirky little film that works on a people level and perhaps says something a little different from the average film. So here's hoping to taking the film out on the road in the New Year.

However if you'd like the DVD for Christmas, don't forget to drop a heavy hint or two and steer your beloved in the direction of our website (or even Amazon I guess).

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

coming to a shop near you...

We've been trying to sell our film as an online thing. Generally this is great, as it gives us a direct contact with customers, many of whom call up and chat about rods, reels, fishing and stuff. But we are realising that the internet is not for everyone, and as word about the film has spread, a few distributors have been getting in touch, asking if they can stock the film in shops for us. Well why not we thought. So, for customers in Germany and in the United States can now find the film in your local fishing store too. If you have any problems finding a copy, tell your store they can order the film from either Etheon in Germany or Angler's Book Supply in the States. They'll know who we're talking about as both are very respected names in their fields.

Meanwhile I'm hoping the weather calms down a bit, as every year I hear that the really big bass swim up our local estuary around about now and my fly rod is itching to let them feel its curves.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Pirate justice

It's been a high seas roller coaster for the last couple of days. The other evening, I discovered that 3 websites were offering rip-off illegal downloads of our movie, and there were no shortage of takers. I was horrified and really hurt, I felt like someone had broken into our house and stolen something very valuable to us. We spent 2 years making our film, that's 2 years with no income and the idea was to sell this lovely film over our website and receive an income, support a family life, and also hopefully make more films like this.

Amazingly, it is astonishingly hard to stop the pirates, in fact one of the biggest, piratebay,  a Swedish outfit actively enjoys laughing in the face of any copyright holders who complain or issue them writs. The police don't want to get involved, as it is so hard to get hard proof when everything is digital and when the crime crosses borders. I also have sneaking suspicion that somehow they feel they have more serious work to do.

One of the things that most stings me, is that the rather large amount of people who have illegally downloaded our film presumably want to watch it because of the love and care of the craftsmen in our film. Yet they seem to have no respect or desire to pay us for our work and craft in making the film itself - yet they probably wonder why craftsmen find it hard to survive!

However this story does have twist: determined not to just accept the piracy (which, amazingly was the general advice) I did as much tracking as I could with my limited internet knowledge. The websites involved are registered anonymously in Arizona then use ISPs in Amsterdam and the Czech Republic but take payment in Portland, Oregon in the U.S.. I wanted to track down this organisation being paid for the downloads as they charge $5 for the 1st day then $30 a month to give their customers access to illegally uploaded film like ours. Despite the fact that this company takes credit cards it seems able to hide itself incredibly easily, astonishing.

Anyway, on to the best bit. I did some research on this payment company '' keen to find if their was a way to get to them. And low and behold but my searches instead came up with a consumer protection website with a huge list of furious punters very worried about compromising their credit card details. They had joined the pirate ship to plunder the copyright files of films like ours, paid their $5 'one-off' one day fee and now the pirates are happily ripping off their credit cards accounts too. One website was absolutely full of complaints and that was just from the last few days. The big banks seem very slow to react and there are now hundreds of irate pirate wannabees being charged $30 a month and cannot cancel their service! Funnily enough many are UK customers and are now complaining about how 'someone' should do something about this fraud.

I must say it brought a certain smile to my face, the first for a few days.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Steaming flanks

Not many rumblings from here at Manor Cottages of late. Is it just that time of year? The cow parsley is high, the mayfly are out and about, and maybe we're all outdoors and fishing whenever we can? Oh I wish it were the case. The marketing of Mr Hardy still takes up most of my time but Heike has decamped to deepest Eastern Germany to research a new documentary; a story from the days of the old Stasi, the East German secret police. Meanwhile not to be outdone, I've dusted down the trusty camera and started shooting a film around here. 

We discovered a fascinating organic dairy farmer, who we visited back on my birthday and felt we just had to make a film about Hooky. 'Hook and son' produce organic raw milk and are the kind of set-up we at Trufflepig really admire - people dedicated to an idea and passionate about what they do. In many ways not a huge leap from the early Hardy Brother themselves. But besides that, ever since reading Tess of the D'urbervilles I've always wanted to walk amongst the steaming flanks of cows on a misty dawn. Who said romanticism is dead? Mind you I'm not milking them, I'm filming them but that's almost as good. You wouldn't believe how funny cows can be either!

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

A Hardy salmon fly dresser

It was a nice surprise the other day when somebody got in touch, asking for Ken's address. Ken ties, (or rather he 'dresses' to use his correct terminology), salmon flies. Ken ties (or dresses rather) them without a vice too, just as he was taught back at Hardy Brothers 50 years earlier. I've noticed a few people commenting on this on other websites, so people do seem to notice this, even from just watching our trailer online. 

Anyway, a viewer called us up at Trufflepig to get Ken's address as they wanted him to make him some salmon flies. I don't know why but I felt quite proud about this. Ken was made redundant from Hardy's quite a few years back when they closed their fly shop down, something was lost at that moment. All these years later to be able to point some new orders in Ken's direction is very rewarding.

The Lost World of Mr Hardy - trailer

The story of a much loved family fishing tackle firm and the struggle for craftsmanship in our modern world.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

New Reviews

When we set out to make our film we kind of knew what we were up against. Both of us are experienced filmmakers and know that in reality, films take longer than first thought. But if you believe in the film it's worth doing properly, plus they're organic, they grow as you make new discoveries (yes, they are our babies! In fact sometimes I even think The Lost World of Mr Hardy has a mind of its own). 

The making the film is one thing but the whole selling and marketing was entirely new to us though. We're quite novel in that we are doing it all ourselves. I guess we are realising that in one sense that bit is exactly the same as making films too; it takes longer than you think, the summit of the hill always seems a just a little beyond the 'final' slope, the one you're now climbing.

And so that brings us to getting the film reviewed. It takes a little while to get the ball rolling but what's also new is to now have to step outside of our cosy world. By making our own film we've unwittingly built a comfort zone around it, after all we had no telly or film execs to tell us what to edit in or out. So imagine the horror when we realised one day our film has to get up and walk all by itself. The poor little bleeder had to walk to school on his first day and all alone. And all those critics are out there, and they're just waiting to pounce...

So we've been bracing ourselves for the ambush, awaiting the cruel mauling. Thing is it hasn't come yet, the reviews are starting to happen and they seem to well...purr. Pure Piscator published one just today. Malcolm Cullen the reviewer did a tremendous job and delivered a great in-depth tome on the film and Hardy's as its subject matter. What is really great too is that for the first time ever we can begin to see the film through other peoples eyes and low and behold they don't find our little critter too ugly at all.

Who knows, maybe I'm speaking out of turn though, as in the next few days reviews come out in 'Trout & Salmon' and in 'Fly Fishing & Fly Tying' magazines. Let's see what they have to say.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

New Website

We launched our new website last week. Check it out with the link on the right if you've not seen it. It was a funny ol' moment doing the upgrade and it came with considerable debate amongst Heike and I. The previous Mk1 website was my own baby but to be frank was a bit of a messy child, hand cobbled together on a 'learn what you need' basis, simple, rough and ready,  yet I did love it. I found it quite direct, simple and honest (but hey that's me all over ;-)

As we now proceed to a more sophisticated site with much more information and professionalism, is there something lost? It's a big question for us just because of what we have made in our film, something we think of as a very personal film, a hand crafted article and with a style and feel all of its own. It's very well made but never glossy or formulaic. Yet as businesses we have to try and instill confidence in the customer, but do we actually lose something of the 'personal touch' in the process? It's a funny old world is it not, we are quite determined to hold onto our film craft niche, yet need to earn a living and so put the right message across. Dear, dear, these modern times are all a bit to sophisticated. Can't I just go camping and fishing in the mountains, please!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Mullock's auction at Ludlow

We had a 'works day out' last weekend and travelled to Ludlow to visit a Mullock's vintage fishing tackle auction. We've filmed there a couple of times while making our film so it was a bit like visiting old friends. Mullock's had invited us down and given us a stand to show clips from the film and do a little face to face marketing. We packed the car up with a flat screen telly, a laptop and a box of DVDs and were away. 

The 'face to face' bit of actually meeting people was great for us, as we suddenly realised how much of a rarity this has become, most people buy the film from the internet and a few buy over the phone. Phone-buys are nice as it is interesting to hear a little about the people themselves who are interested in our film. One kind gentleman from Sweden even sent us a picture of a lovely Grayling he had recently caught on his Hardy gear. 

However, getting back to Ludlows, as I say, the 'face to face' was a first and it was also the first time we had met people who had already seen the film. The thing that most astonished us was that virtually all of them had watched our film 4 or 5 times already. They invite their friends around and have an evening in, almost a cult film. I'm quite proud of that because I know that something really has to hold up on the quality front and especially on the editing to bring people back to watch again and again.

The big downside was that I missed the lovely little brook rod I had an eye on. I guess we will just have to visit Ludlow again..

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Mr Hardy at Hardy's

We are really pleased to say that our "The Lost World of Mr Hardy" DVD is now also on sale in the Hardy's shop in Alnwick. I am still not quite sure if it is correctly called "The Hardy Country Store" or "The Compleat Angler", however it doesn't really matter as it's built onto the front of the Hardy factory alongside the museum so if you've got that far you can't miss it.

And heck if you have made that special trip why not buy the DVD and Jim Hardy's book at the same time - what a classy double act!

1st DVD review

Our film has been hinted at on Clarks Classic Fly Rod Forum in the U.S. over the months but as the film only came out on NTSC (North American format) last week nobody had seen it and several over there were asking for a review from somebody over here. Shoeless Joe saved the day, he was one of the 1st in the U.S. to receive a copy and posted this review on the forum. Many thanks to Joe and for his permission to reprint here. Over to you Joe:

"Only the best is good enough for fishermen"

... and though it was fishing tackle that John James Hardy Jr. had in mind when he uttered that line near the end of the 19th century, after viewing this documentary one might surmise that J.J.'s words are indeed prophetic, as they have come to embrace the efforts of Heathcote and Bachelier and their film, The Lost World of Mr. Hardy.

Though The Lost World could stand alone on the anecdotes of former Hardys directors and employees or perhaps even composer, Stephen Daltrys' music, particularly intriguing is the way the filmmakers chose to incorporate present-day rod and reel makers, Edward Barder and Chris Lythe ... their inclusion brings the film full-circle and thus fulfills Andy Heathcote's desire that we "Be inspired by a poignant reflection of the world we live in and the myriad ways it has changed over 130 years."

As I reflected on my first go at The Lost World of Mr Hardy, I found myself at once, not only wrestling with a sense of loss, but also nuturing rekindled feelings of adoration for those who churned out and stamped their intitials into my Hardy reels ... one reel at a time.

We were really touched by this. Being an independent film we never really knew what people would think of our film or what we wanted to say in it so it is really gratifying to know that people share the message.

Around the world

Now the "Mr Hardy"DVD is out and about it's really interesting to see how it will find its way onto distant shores. What really amazed us from the outset is just how many of the website visitors are from outside the U.K. I guess once could expect North America to figure highly but I am quite surprised that Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands must be big Hardy acolytes too. Similarly with Japan. Yukio at the Andy Murray society is helping us out over there and the web interest from Japan is incredible. 

We had an order this morning from Copacabana, our first from Brazil. As we print out the labels to send off peoples DVD to Rio or Wyoming or Vermont or all these interesting sounding places it just makes me want to experience the countryside there, to fish in all these places, smell the grasses on those hills, feel the big waters running down from distant mountains. Such a big beautiful world but I guess you can't fish everywhere, can you?

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Off topic birthday surprise

It was my birthday on Wednesday last. It is tradition that Heike and I give each other a little surprise trip. "Urrhh where is she taking me" I wondered as we trundled through an unpromising locale and she refused to be drawn.

We ended up at a farm and not just any farm. Steve runs a raw organic milk dairy farm and it was astonishing. We live in the countryside and regularly have cows nibbling away at the bushes in our own back garden so I don't quite feel the total townie. However I must admit that I have had my worries about farming practises and animal husbandry for years. I hate what looking after the 'bottom line' does for animal welfare, something has to give and with supermarkets piling on the price pressure it is usually the animal that suffers one way or another.

The great thing about Steve and his dad's farm is that it is not like that at all. It is a low yielding farm with very unstressed animals which live longer. I'm sure most farmers care about their animals but here on this farm it is almost as if that is the main thing, that's the business idea.

The cost of all is? Well the milk is double the price but when we walked around his farm you can't help thinking. 'If that's what milk like this costs then that's what it costs and if this kind of farming is the result then bring it on.'

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


I've been having a chance to visit the real world recently. It's not as bad as I thought. We'd spent a year and a half trapped in the office and held prisoner by a film, or rather the editing of it. It might sound odd but since my release people ask me what the film is about and it is quite hard to define in a sentence or two. That's because while editing there's been an infinite number of stories and possibilities in our heads and the challenge of editing is to organise and select from all this. So what has been interesting is to go out and meet civilians, people who have no feeling for fishing, or collecting or Hardy's whatsoever and tell them what we're doing. Will their eyes glaze over, the drink slip out of their hand and roll across the carpet? You learn a lot from peoples responses, (even if they are British) no drink was spilled either. People and I mean ordinary people here, really latch onto that idea of craftsmanship. Their is a real sense of importance and an awakening that human craft is something that has to be valued. People want to talk about it. It's odd as I'm not sure that this feeling was around to the same extent even three or four years ago. Will the world suddenly beat a path to Callum Gladstone's workshop (Hardy's cane rod maker), or perhaps demand only a Chris Lythe reel? I'm pretty confident quite a few will.

Mr Hardy goes global

January saw us bogged down with the difficulties of making our film look good on DVD for the rest of the world. We shot our film on an excellent but relatively new format and realised that in some stages of our game the technology was off and running away before it could really walk. That's what happened when we tried to make NTSC copies for North America. Strangely the very expensive machine they use called an Alchemist and does all the jiggery-pokery would have had to down-grade the images we were so pleased with in our film. They would have lost their filmic quality. A new way had to be found to do the job and as running speeds are different over the pond too it created all manner of problems, mostly to do with making people mouths synchronise with what they say. I have that problem too but it's usually pretty late on a Saturday night when it kicks in.

However, problem sorted. Our man in the Midlands just called and said the NTSC copies of The Lost world of Mr Hardy have been pressed, checked and okayed and are now in the truck on the way to us. Mind you it's another big fog expected tonight so no doubt the driver will spend another couple of days driving around in circles lost in the wilderness off the Pevensey Levels.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008


It takes a while to recover from Christmas and the New Year follow up. At least it seems to for us, we got the UK and Europe version of The Lost World of Mr Hardy DVD out before Christmas but only by the skin of our teeth. I think you could have measured the countdown to crimbles in hours and seconds. But it was with some relief we headed over to Heike's folks in Germany for Christmas and a break.

Having said that how nice to have our Christmas interrupted, I mean it! People were calling up on the mobile to say how much they liked the film. I was so happy at that I almost forgot I was paying the foreign cost of being called up on the mobile. One call on Christmas day, saying thank you for saving a special piece of history and making my Christmas. "It bought a lump to me throat" said another caller. I have to say that by then I was quite moved myself. We have been getting some really nice emails back so will try and include some of those on the website soon.

Meanwhile the NTSC copy of the DVD for North America and Japan drags on, and on and on. Our apologies for that, we are doing our best but it is out of our control. We have been promised a test copy of the NTSC version for tomorrow so fingers crossed.