Mark D. Rose is the writer, producer and the director of Alaska Long Hunters 44. This award winning story follows the life of a young pilot who flew in Alaska’s frontier arctic. Experience the front-seat thrills of bush planes and helicopters operating in the most dangerous conditions on earth, airborne among the magnificent mountains, glaciers and rivers that only Alaska has to offer. Includes true-life experiences of accidents, comradeship, humor and heartbreak of life in early Alaska, gone forever when dismantled into parks in the 1980’s. Based on the book Last of the Long Hunters by Mark Rose, the scene opens with an early history of the Great Land and those that lived in it through interviews with several life-long Alaskans, including Hilda Lidner, Ray Atkins and Gale Ranny to name a few. Leading up to the introduction of the authors use of a new tool of transport – the single engine airplane, but not without extracting a terrible price. Experience what it was like to growing up among the dangerous game, hunting the massive caribou herds and absorbing the greatness of the county. Pilots will gain from the flying experiences related, and every boy, man and aviator will be compelled to grapple with its final truth, concluding with a crisis encounter that forever changed the pilot's life forever. Filmed on Location in Alaska. Premiered Spring of 2020. www.alaskalonghunters.com
We spoke to the director of the film regarding the making of his film and the process of shooting this indie film.
Tell us about the inspiration behind the making of Alaska Long Hunters 44.
I spent 3 years writing the base material for Alaska Long Hunters in my autobiography/history Last of the Long Hunters. (www.longhunters.org) which had done very well in the aviation genre in Kindle. You may know we have two versions of ALH out, Alaska Long Hunters 44 being slightly abbreviated to slide into the short film market. I must say the works of Ford in Yellow Ribbon and Dances with Wolves by Costner stand out to me as inspirations. Both were expressions of the emotion that comes from absorbing wild country. We went part of the way trying to share that about Alaska in Alaska Long Hunters, but only delivered a taste to the audience. More to come in the future. We gave you Alaska Long Hunters that's on the screen today, feeling blessed to have experienced that.
Why were these themes in your film important to you to work on? Tell us about how the story started forming and developing for you.
I grew up through my teen years in Alaska and dove right into of wilderness around me, surrounded by aircraft, boats and helicopters, not to mention the inspiring people, country and game. The whole experience, plus the flying side, became deeply ingrained into my life, crowned eventually by the faith experience we shared in the film. When a voice like that speaks to you, you don't forget that, noting also I had no religious inclinations at all prior to that experience. Tell us how the film went into production and the most challenging or interesting thing about the process of making the film. So we had a few starts and stops making this one, the process spanning across 3 years. We had to contact and arrange the interviews, e.g. with Gale Ranney, (my first flight instructor) other pilots and folks I had run into over the years. We had to acclimate the non-Alaskan film team to the environment and local styles. Some interviews were sporadic, such as with guide/pilots Ray Adkins and Larry Rivers, whom we found to be very fine gentleman and of the most colorful interviews in the film, plus random connections, such as Chris Bullard, guide and bush pilot, whom we learned flew home the first day he came into this world in the Super Cub bush plane 39Y featured in the film, who I met on a Facebook page. You haven't heard the last of Chris.. Biggest challenge? Yours truly getting back into the pilots seat and flying the bush again after 30+ years. Had some interesting and quirky things come up I didn't expect that took some time to figure out: e.g new tire system that made the airplane nearly impossible to land..a faulty fuel gauge caused issues on the long ferry trip to Alaska, a thunderstorm that got between us and home base one night on a shoot, causing a race to see who made it back first.. stuff like that. Had a battle with our costume director about "Micks" style of boots (my partner in the film) was was to wear on set, staff thinking cheap street shoes would be fine, I saying "no way" using the example that if the "Deadliest Catch crew" asked told to wear ball-brand boots Vs Goodrich high tops Mick and I lived in for years, (even went to highschool in) that they, (staff) would end up in a crab pot and over the side as bait.. That got everyone's attention - the costumes folk later winning an award for their job.. I should mention the crew woke up one morning to an awful ruckus outside their cabin, only to find two bull moose sparring in rutting season, stuff like that.. A clip on the making of Alaska Long Hunters in 2019 https://youtu.be/kZj0G3B1TfQ
What is the message of your film and who is your targeted audience? I couldn't get away from those experiences, that came at a time of deep personal reflection, so I researched and wrote the book. Believe it or not, that was very difficult, as those events and the people involved were not imaginary, they were true-life, down to the very last detail. The message to share: That people understand there is truly a God as described in the Bible, in hopes they would consider to search that out personally. Target audience? Everyone that will sit down and spend an hour of their life to learn a little bit about the nature of God and Alaska, and the beautiful creation it all represents. Talk to us about your next film project. We are currently in the process of taking Alaska Long Hunters to the feature level under a new name, adding more intense bush flying and helicopters scenes to the mix, hoping to drive home how things really went down on a larger, grander scale - coming out 2022, good Lord willing! Tell us about the most fascinating thing about the language of cinema for you.
Most youth are not reading anymore, film has saturated the media market, so to reach the world with a message - use film. Using film in documentary fashion as Ken BurnsTM does is very interesting and challenging indeed. If I could, here are a few notable successes to date: Alaska Long Hunters has achieved far, far more acceptance in the secular community as a faith-based film than we ever expected, starting by winning Silicon Beach FF (normally held at Mann's Chinese Theater in competition with Hollywood's latest and best), MIWAFF in Montreal, plus four "Best Documentary" awards in Paris, and many others across the globe, including several in fiercely anti-Christian countries. Heres is an audience feedback clip you may use: https://youtu.be/8xjD_LZicRQ