Please tell us about your background. What or who made you fall in love with cinema? How did you become interested in filmmaking and what did you work on before making Alaska Long Hunters?
Mark D. Rose was born in Corvallis, Oregon to a logging family seasoned in the outdoors. At an early age he and his family moved to Alaska, where he was raised near Juneau. Immersing himself in that challenging environ, he eventually took up aviation and focused his career in that direction for the next 3 decades, eventually thrown into the construction of the Alaska Pipeline as manager of a fleet of helicopters, tasked with building out the mountain network vital to the project. Working and flying in those extremes pushed he and his colleagues to the edge on many occasions, teaching life lessons that only Alaska and the mountains can. Mark was always fascinated with photography, attested by the photo albums he collected based on the experiences he witnessed and documented along the way. Holding multiple patents in wireless, Mark moved from high-tech then to writing (writing 4 books) and now film, seeing that the current generation would rather watch than read, so here I am!
Which filmmakers influenced you and your filmmaking? Which films have affected you the most?
I would say John Ford (of ‘Yellow Ribbon’ fame) and Kevin Costner of ‘Dances with Wolves’
Where did the idea for the film come from? Was it from your own experiences?
In a hard time in my life I looked back on my younger years working in Alaska aviation, so I wrote the book Last of the Long Hunters in 2015. It became popular on Kindle (#1 a few times in Genre) so enough of my friends and family convinced me to make a documentary of it.
What are the themes/issues you try to reflect in your film(s)? What, in your opinion, is the most important quality of a film?
As a Christian, my life and worldview was so dramatically altered in that time period I couldn’t help but adding that piece to it. It’s the truth and I owe my God to be honest and tell that part of the story.
I understand that this is your debut film. What were the challenges that you faced when making Alaska Long Hunters? Tell us about the production and your experiences of making the film.
As I said, my relationship with God is real to me, I now don’t view life as me taking God along for the ride, I aspire to give every day to God and listen to that inner voice speaking to me about my actions and decisions I make in everyday life; that is amazing when I get promptings and direction from that attitude, plus it makes the day go better and sometimes I get surprised! For example, we were waiting to get a new engine put in the main aircraft you see in the film. It was late coming by a week, me in the flesh being pretty frustrated, paying a film crew sitting in Alaska with nothing to shoot, me grounded in Oregon waiting for an engine. While at the set, the film crew met some interesting folks at the local airport and to use the time, they setup some interviews, one of those was with Larry Rivers, a long time bush pilot, and we were able to integrate many elements that Larry shared by virtue of his broad experience into the film.
Several little miracles happened along the way once I got on set in Alaska and started to fly. The second trip up we were to film air to air, and as I entered beautiful mountain pass, (we hoped to use as a background), a rainbow followed me through the pass for miles. In another scene the cinematographer and I were in the plane flying out to the set, and a line of thunderstorms showed up cutting right across our path and closing fast. Lightning was striking all along the line and turbulence got bad, at that moment we were trying to air-drop the survival suit to the ground in order to film, and the wind caught it and I got to watch that brand new $500 suit wash down the Big Su river! The ground crew did get the shot, that’s in the film. I should also mention the crew woke up one morning to some sort of ruckus going on outside their cabin, turned out it was two bull moose sparing!
What are the advantages and disadvantages of independent filmmaking and working with small budgets? Does it liberate the filmmaker or limit his or her freedom?
We didn’t use a big name star, we had tried to get a name narrator but with that not working out, we just used Mick and I in voice over. I guess the short answer is be creative and make it work.
Tell us about your festival run. Have film festivals provided you with the experience and exposure you needed? Our festival experience has been fantastic! Winning multiple Docs in Paris and elsewhere and the reactions received in the Feedback festivals has really helped us zero in on what is working and whats not. A shocking win was at the Silicon Beach festival, normally held at Manns Chinese theater. To my shock and surprise, we also won there.
What was the reaction of those who watched your film? Was the feedback what you hoped for?
Many folks express comfort knowing there are like-minded folks who share some level of faith in their backgrounds and are willing to share it. Man has a basic affinity to seek God, it seems more about is He real and can He help. These were major points we made in Alaska Long Hunters.
Please tell us about your future project(s). With your plans to make Alaska Long Hunters into a feature length film in the near future, what changes do you think may happen to the story and the whole idea for it?
Yes, we are currently preparing to film a feature length narrative doc based on Alaska Long Hunters called Alaska Rescue Story. We found the perfect song, film team and the script is in progress. I’ve been testing cameras, shooting B roll and flying helicopters and the airplanes getting ready for this one. We are going for a Dances with ###### level as the high bar to reach. We don’t have Buffalo but we do have Caribou, we don’t have Indian ponies but we do have airplanes and helicopters. This one will be a true-life thriller to stop all and have the audience hanging onto their seats for sure! Coming out in 2023. See more @ www.alaskarescuestory.com