Montauk has been popping up on those lists of hot spots that various publications like to publish this time of year, stories focusing on the evolution of The End as a dining and nightlife destination. But for all that, Montauk has long been and shall remain the Surfcasting Capitol of the World, like a siren calling fishermen to its rocks. Filmmaker Richard Siberry could not resist the call, either.
“Montauk seems to attract and retain unique characters,” says Siberry, creator of the documentary project Montauk Rocks. “There is such diversity in the people, and it has an almost magnetic attraction for a certain type of fisherman.”
Montauk Rocks follows people from all different walks of life, lawyers to truck drivers, as they come together to unite as fishermen and “test themselves against the elements,” Siberry says. On the website for the film, Siberry’s passion for their story is fully unleashed:
“Montauk Rocks will take its viewers on an unforgettable journey with their own neighbors. A fringe group, which exists right in our midst, yet whose motivations, inspirations and adventures, are completely unknown to the majority of society. This is not your granddaddy’s fishing, no snoozing under a straw hat waiting for a perch to put a bend in the old cane pole. Fall surf fishing at Montauk bears more relation to Alaskan crab fishing than it does to just about any other type of “sport fishing”. Armed with custom made graphite rods of 11 and 12 feet, $700 hand made reels and space age braided lines, Montauk’s anglers, dressed in neoprene and Gore Tex, will take on the worst the Atlantic can throw at them through the often frigid fall season, and often just for a story to tell to like minded souls. Every year tackle and bones are smashed in the waves and on the rocks that define the Montauk experience. Doctors are roused from their beds to remove hooks from faces, hands, and legs. For some it’s a one-time deal, not something they wish to make a habit of. For others it’s not just the fish that get hooked. For everyone with a sense of adventure and a taste for pure unfiltered, undiluted adrenalin it’s a must, even if only once.”
Siberry started this documentary nearly 5 years ago and backed much of the work with his own funds. After deciding that he wanted to add animation, though, he realized that the price for such a sequence just wasn’t reasonable within his budget. So he turned to kickstarter.com to combat this problem.
Kickstarter, a worldwide funding platform for creative projects, offers rewards to the people who donate to the projects posted on their site. “It was popping out of every corner. An animator suggested it to me over the course of making the film, and one or two others contacted me and also mentioned Kickstarter,” he says.
Determined to share his film with the public in the form he envisioned, “I decided that maybe I would use Kickstarter,” Siberry says. “If I could defray some of the costs, offer people an incentive to help the film, then that would be an ideal situation.”
Using Kickstarter, which is such an on-the-edge universal platform, to fund a film about such a remote area has a nice juxtaposition to it. The irony is not lost, but Siberry believes that just because Montauk has a different or unique way about it doesn’t mean that the story can’t reach out and capture a mass audience.
“Montauk has retained its own identity,” he says. “It has resisted change, and the locals seem very happy and almost proud of that. It has a certain remoteness, but there is a universality about the story—maybe not in terms of fishing but in terms of its distinct identity, from the characters in the film, the fishermen, the town itself. It is not a fishing film, it’s a character-driven film.”
So far, Siberry has raised $8,465 for his film through Kickstarter, exceeding his goal of $8,000, but he will continue to fundraise until June 9. “I initially said $8,000, a conservative sum that would be just enough to get the job done, but if I can raise $10,000 or $12,000 then I can do a bit more. The more I raise, the more postproduction value I can put into this film.
“Ten years ago, I probably wouldn’t have been able to make this film,” he adds. “I would have had no way to get this to an audience. Now, with Kickstarter, it’s very exciting. It’s a part of a media revolution that supports phenomenal opportunities for people who want to reach a big audience.” Even from a remote spot called The End.