Mark Lundsten remembers how he began. "I discovered making movies while I was a commercial fisherman, my trade for 27 years. In 1997, I needed to show that we avoided incidentally catching seabirds, particularly the endangered short-tailed albatross. Any bycatch mortality of that albatross could have caused our whole fleet to be shut down by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. A movie was the only way I figured we could show how we did that. No one would understand if I just told them. They had to see it, or see it on film. So I put together my first movie: about the halibut/black cod fisheries in the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, and how we avoided catching seabirds. I called it Night of the Guano.
Mark and the Masonic in Homer, Alaska, 1986. Eleven seasons later he made a movie about fishing for halibut and black cod in the offshore waters of Alaska and about how he learned to love the endangered short-tailed albatross....
Night of the Guano is a 35-minute documentary shot aboard my boat the Masonic, a 70-foot halibut schooner, with a simple VHS camera and edited with two VCRs, a CD player, and a small television in my basement. It’s a rudimentary piece of filmmaking. I’d never done it before, but it worked. People understood, and I was hooked."
Note: The film below is a shortened version (20 min) of Night of the Guano, with all the fishing sections intact, but without the seabird sections. The original, full-length version (35 min) with all the seabird info and footage is available here.
Please visit our blog, Fidalgo Journal, to see samples of other work.
Mark and his wife Teru continue to live in the woods on Fidalgo Island. Their two daughters and two granddaughters all live nearby.