Off the back of the raging success of Michael Hurren's Origins, we sat down with the man behind the lens to gather further insight into his love for flyfishing, photography, filmmaking and travel.
MANIC: For all those out there, who is Michael Hurren?
MICK: I was just a country kid that wanted to fish every chance I could get growing up. Not much has changed now I’m older, I’ve just got less time to go fish, but it’s an essential part of me surviving this crazy world, and I couldn’t live without it.
I really loved growing up in country Victoria, Wangaratta was so close to great fishing.
I used to fish during school, sneaking out at lunch time or even wagging some classes to go carp fishing in the creek near home, and every weekend was a BBQ on a trout steam, or some cod water nearby.
I moved to the big smoke when I finished school to become a carpenter, which I did for the next thirteen years, and during that time I was also a wedding photographer on the weekends. During the last few years of carpentry, I put windows in high-rise buildings, did office fit outs, moved to the desert in WA for a couple of years welding, purchasing for a construction company and shooting for the local paper, then I moved back to Melbourne and worked with a mate building film sets and props, which would later help me get behind a movie camera.
After moving back from WA, I started shooting commercial stills photography and motorsport for magazines, and about ten years ago I got a job on a music tour for a beer company that required props, stills and video. Filming has been my bread and butter work ever since.
I started my production company Filmic Productions a few years back, and most of our work is commercial, corporate and documentary content.
MANIC: How were you introduced to flyfishing?
MICK:My Dad used to fly fish when I was really young, and a few years after my parents split my dad gave me his home built 7wt 9 foot glass rod, I think I was twelve or thirteen at the time, and I spent most of a year teaching myself to cast on the oval behind my house.
I then found out that next Christmas that my second cousin Matt Cole fly fished, and when the yearly ritual of family arguing started on Christmas day, we headed out for a fish to get away, and I caught my first trout on the fly.
This became a thing we did every Christmas, and we fished together any chance we could get in-between. We learned a lot together over the years, tying bead head nymphs from way too big beads from the craft shop in the early 90’s, when you couldn’t find flies like that in Australia, and just fishing the hell out of it. So many good times, and we still fish together now thirty years on.
MANIC: You've done a few epic trips in the last two years, do tell?
MICK: The last couple of years have been great! Last year I had a string of trips with James Norney and Andrew Burden. Andrew popped over to OZ first to do some cod and carp fishing up on the Murrumbidgee with our mate Nick O’Leary. We drifted quite a long section of river but the cod were quiet as they can be. We did smash a few mud marlin, they're always so much fun.
James and I then popped over to NZ and fished cicada season round Turangi with Andrew. We drifted the Tongariro, float tubed Lake Otamangakau and hit much smaller water as we could, casing early run browns and rainbows left in the system.
We then all jumped on a plane to Japan for a three-week adventure.
Japan was really the jewel in the crown with so many species to tick off, great culture and a huge flyfishing scene. We really only got the tip of the iceberg in terms of how much of the country we fished, and species caught. We caught, sea bass, small mouth bass, bream, mackerel, gogi, daice, chub, yamame, white spotted char, brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and koi just to name a few.
We traveled to all our fishing locations by train or bus and drank beer and ate great food and met some amazing people along the way. I can’t wait to get back and explore more, was such a great experience.
This was my first real solid attempt at saltwater flyfishing, having only really fished for estuary species like bream, flathead and luderick, so hooking up on a permit, landing some GT’s, queenfish and a couple solid barra was real eye opener!
MANIC:How important is flyfishing to you?
MICK: Flyfishing is so important to me, it’s what keeps my feet on the ground and my head in a good place.
My work has got so busy over the last few years, that I need to go stand in a river and just hear bubbling water, throw a few loops and think about nothing else but fishing. I absolutely love my job, and have worked hard to get here, but I work to fish, and fishing keeps me working. I’m sure most people reading this can relate.
Flyfishing has also made me great friends all over the world, I know I can pick up the phone or send an email, and next day be fishing with an old friend, or someone who I have never fished with before. It's a great community of like-minded people.
MANIC: You cut your teeth on trout fishing like a lot of flyfishos out there, now you’re a saltwater convert, salt or fresh?
MICK: That’s such a hard question! I’m really enjoying the salt, and there’s nothing like the pull of a big saltwater species, getting a fish on the reel and watching it go for a run. It’s so exciting! And there is so much scope here in Australia to chase cold and warm water species, so much to explore. But I really can’t go past freshwater, just because it's what I know and have done all my life. I think maybe freshwater is a little bit more relaxing. Salt comes very close second though.
MANIC: Any tips for those budding film makers out there trying to mix work and play?
MICK: I always try to have a good balance of filming and fishing. I’m behind the camera most days of the week, so I don't want filming to take away from my fishing experience, it’s what I do to get my head out of that space.
When I fish I carry as little camera gear as possible, mostly small Olympus cameras and lenses with built in stabilisation, so I don't need to carry a tripod. Last thing I want to do Is have a bad time because I’ve got too much in my backpack.
Make sure you enjoy yourself! If you’re not having a good time, it will come through in your work, and as they say in the industry “Shoot the shit out of it” The key to a good edit is a well thought out script, or lots of footage to choose from, and sometimes both.
Filming fishing is a really good opportunity for a budding film maker to learn the ropes, its accessible, you’ll learn how to work in different lighting conditions, and you are in control of the situation except maybe the fish part, so you can make the film however you want it to be.
So, get out there, and film lots! Just don't let it take away from the fishing you love.
MANIC: You’ve got one trip left, where to in the world?
MICK: Early this year I made a trip to Japans southernmost islands in Okinawa prefecture on a shoot for Olympus cameras. It's a group of islands that’s very tropical, beautiful and relatively untouched by the sports fishing world. I did a bit of poking around and found an amazing fishery and have since made some friends that might be able to make a future trip happen.
Sashimi, Japanese whisky, brackish rivers with hundreds of species of fish unique to the area, and salty flats with some old favourites GT’s and the like! My one last trip in the world would be to here!