This insightful documentary follows Santa Barbara aquaculturalist Bernard Friedman as he tends to his mussels and deals with the bureaucracy of being the only open ocean fish farm on the California coast.
Why did you decide to focus on Bernard?
Bernard conducted a short presentation about his unique aquaculture methods in an environmental issues class that I was a part of. More than a cut-and-dry science lesson, I saw that Bernard had a vital stake in the survival of his methods and an air of intrigue around his story and personality; he’s a fantastic character.
Did you realize how unique his situation was when you started the film?
Not quite. Going into it, I was aware that he was among a vast minority, however I was not aware of the extent to which he is spearheading the success of open-ocean mussel farming in California and the United States.
Are you a big fan of eating mussels?
Although I usually don’t identify as a fan of seafood, I must say that Bernard’s mussels are truly delicious.
Do/ you hope your film will open more eyes to how sustainable mussel farming seems to be?
I really do. Making this film definitely opened my eyes to some of the misconceptions that surround fish/mollusk farming, and I hope that it will have a positive impact in clearing the air around open-ocean mussel farming. Bernard provides such a fantastic product to our community, and I hope his work will gain wider recognition for the sustainability he practices.
Were there any particular challenges to making this film?
The other two filmmakers and I had never worked together before and were tasked with the challenge of delivering a film in nine weeks, which proved to be a great learning experience. One of the biggest challenges we faced was getting Bernard to open up to us about his dilemma. He is very knowledgeable matter-of-fact about his craft, and it took a lot of time of us just hanging out with him and his family and on the boat to get to a comfortable point between him and the camera.
Do you have any other projects in the works?
I am currently in pre-production for a short film I will be directing as a part of the SBIFF 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking Competition. A very different type of film from Mussel Man, I’m excited to take on the challenge.