Lucas Bell isn’t sure that he and his wife Meigan were ready to make a feature-length documentary. But make it they did so either he’s lying or several popular theories linking preparation to success just went to heck in a handcart.
“Live the Stream: The Story of Joe Humphreys” clocks in at 93 minutes culled down from 24 terabytes of 4K 1080 HD footage of Joe Humphreys being Joe Humphreys — angling, mentoring, whatever you consider verb version of the local fly-fishing legend to be.
Bell and his wife expected the entire process to take around 6 months. Instead it took three years. Fortunately there’s ample evidence to suggest that they are infinitely better at filmmaking than they are at estimates.
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“Live the Stream” has racked up a series of awards since its debut at Colorado’s Breckenridge Film Festival last September, where it took home the mantel of Best Adventure Film and a standing ovation for Humphreys.
“And he’s never stopped talking about how much it’s meant to him,” Bell said.
The film will finally touch down in State College — “finally” because Bell gets asked about it all the time — on Jan. 18 at The State Theatre, just a day shy of Humphrey’s 90th birthday.
Bell described it as a semi-private event that just so happens to have sold well over 370 tickets, so good luck working out the dress code for that one. There are two screenings scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., but failing that, erstwhile viewers will just have to wait for the DVD.
“We’re working on all of that now and that’s kind of like the last big hurdle and we’re getting close to that,” Bell said.
The operative question is exactly how close is close? It’s certainly not “who is Joe Humphreys?” If you’re one of the few people left in Centre County still asking that question try going to Google and plugging in any combination of the words “fly-fishing,” “huge trout” and possibly even “Humphreys, Joe” just for good measure.
The same general principle applies to finding one of the many books written about him on Amazon or the several pages worth of videos stacked like firewood on YouTube. Notoriety is good. Notoriety puts butts in seats. It does however present something of a storytelling challenge.
“He’s a normal guy but so many people know about him,” Bell said.
Nobody wants to be the kid who has to stand in front of the class and deliver the fifth book report in a row on “The Catcher in the Rye.” The Bells knew and were perfectly fine with the fact that they would inevitably be contributing another installment to the pantheon of Humphrey’s centric fly-fishing cinema.
What they hoped to find — and what they’re pretty sure they got — was something a little more emotional along the way. Bell said that there are things that happen in the film that a lot of people might not know about. And the man has already sold well over 300 tickets, so if that’s just a sales pitch he probably should have saved it for the DVD.
“I think we thought that it was just going to be about the sport of fly-fishing and while it is that, it becomes more about how much he truly loves nature and how important his family and friends are to him,” Bell said.
But again with the DVD ... the Bells are still trying to iron out a distribution deal with the goal of taking “Live the Stream” international, which would hopefully include stops on iTunes and other digital streaming or downloading platforms.
In the meantime there’s always the festival circuit. The documentary will screen at the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center in West Chester on Feb. 11 before heading back out on the road again in March.
“It lasted a little bit longer than we thought but it’s one of those things where you have to keep going. Our goal was to get Joe’s film to film festivals and to have Joe be at the film festivals and we did that and we won awards, which is fantastic,” Bell said.
For more information or to purchase tickets to a screening, visit thestatetheatre.org/live-the-stream-the-story-of-joe-humphreys.