Once upon a time, two brothers from a tiny town in the far north of England, set out to make fishing tackle. Their wares captured more than just fish. Soon they had won the hearts and minds of fishing maharajahs, film stars and royalty the world over. Their names were William and JJ Hardy.
With their genius, devotion, and innovative marketing they would conquer the world. They grew an army of craftsmen and the family firm of Hardy's has been synonymous with the best in fishing ever since. That was more than 130 years ago and how the world has changed!
Jim Hardy died in 2012 and was the last of the family to work for Hardy's. “Mister Jim” is how the employees used to addressed him. Jim made the film with us back in 2008. Filming took us on an incredible journey back over a golden era of angling, using unbelievable film from the Hardy archives filmed over nearly a century; a time when rivers really did seem stuffed with salmon. Hear from the master craftsman and share their pride in a time and place when making handmade fishing tackle really was something special, something to celebrate. And then ponder the question, is this golden age really a lost world? Could it ever happen again...
As a teenager passionate about fly fishing, I was amazed to learn that Hardy’s, a legendary company with a huge reputation came from a small, remote border town (just south of my Scottish home). Hardy's were expensive, way out of my price range but a real mark of seriousness in ones angling. Yes, they were a little traditional. Probably old fashioned too. But that name, it was indelible, it really did stand for something, for 'the best' and anglers just couldn't get enough.
On rediscovering fly fishing 20 years later, I was astonished to see the modern day phenomena of Ebay featuring thousands upon thousands of much treasured items of vintage Hardy gear fetching good money. That longevity was reassuring.
So what is it about Hardy’s that managed to get into the psyche of anglers everywhere? What is it about angling Hardy's managed to bottle so perfectly? An idealised past? A notion of what perfect fishing is all about? Or simply the ultimate in quality? More than all this and I was itching to find out what. THE LOST WORLD OF MR. HARDY was to be the result.
Together with partner Heike Bachelier, we set out on a journey to explore this world, to capture the dedication and the passion, to handcraft a feature length film that in itself is very much a product of these values, a movie made by film craftsmen, a Rolls Royce amongst fishing films.
Back in August 2006 we were ready to go. Equipped and provisioned we set off to explore the world of our film, to discover The Lost World of Mr. Hardy. We travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles, meeting and filming people who have dedicated their lives to fishing; amongst them the many in Alnwick who worked for Hardy’s all their life, including directors past and present, plus dedicated river-keepers, passionate fishermen, collectors, publishers and auctioneers, all manner of experts in angling and its history. We met the passionate individuals dotted around the country who still make quality rods, reels and fishing tackle by hand, people who share an idea of what Hardy’s was all about.
We soon discovered we were telling a story with real enthusiasm and warmth. Our film is about people who have dedicated their working life to an art. We became totally absorbed and committed everything we could to telling their story.
As an independent film company we were lucky, we could ignore television production schedules or compromising deadlines. Instead we could concentrate on capturing a unique world unveiling itself.
Not only did we meet wonderful people, capturing some great stories from life but we also filmed in some of the most beautiful and idyllic places in the country. From southern chalk streams to northern salmon rivers, wild hills to pretty estuaries. Discovering The Lost World of Mr. Hardy was an unforgettable journey.
It was wonderful to have the support of Hardy's to make this film, to interview such enthusiastic people and incredible craftsmen. We also had access to an astonishing film library initiated by Hardy's in the 1920s and also uncovered the first ever colour fishing films.
New technology meant we could shoot our film in high definition but without the need for a big crew and so keep it personal. We were able to make a film of bespoke quality but with a story big enough and strong enough to be shown in a cinema anywhere in the world, an intimate, unique and enriching story with a universal message.
What inspires us as filmmakers is the opportunity for total involvement in the films we make, and to be able to craft them to the very highest standards. It might sound odd but this is quite a novelty.
Making films has always been prohibitively expensive. So much so that it dictates what gets made. Only something with broadest possible audience appeal ever makes it's money back. Television is much the same, broadcasting means getting to the broadest number of people. So what happens if there is a great film we want to make but it appeals to a more specialised audience? Well up until now it could never be done.
Suddenly this has changed, new technology means smaller films can now be made to an incredibly high standard. This means filmmakers can now finance their own projects and so personally get them out to the audience they know is there.
It also means we as filmmakers have no financier breathing down our necks so can go out there and just make really fine films.
That's the theory but the best bit is that with the internet, we as filmmakers can then have direct contact with our audience. There is something very satisfying about this and it is also very empowering. By supporting filmmakers like us you are also supporting our future projects.
Profits from DVDs bought from our website go directly into our future projects. By buying our DVD you are supporting us as artists and helping to make more specialised films like this available in the future.
Mullock’s Specialist Auctioneers & Valuers
JIM HARDY 1927-2012 Company director, Hardy’s 1948 – 1992
MARK TERRY River Keeper, Dorset
IVOR DAVIES Works Manager, Hardy’s 1957 - 1996
EDWARD BARDER Rod Maker, The Edward Barder Rod Company
CHRIS LYTHE Centre Pin Reel Maker
NEIL FREEMAN Auctioneer, Angling Auctions
JON WARD-ALLEN Publisher, Medlar Press
GEORGE TERNENT Rod Inspector, Hardy’s 1955- 2001
JACK DOTCHIN MBE 1923-2015 Hardy Reel Inspector, Hardy’s 1937 - 1987
TERENCE MOORE Reel Assembler, Hardy’s 1946 - 1997
JOHN STEPHENSON Mullock’s Specialist Auctioneers & Valuers
KEN MIDDLEMIST Salmon Fly Dresser, Hardy’s 1959 - 1969
IAN BLAGBURN Sales & Promotion Manager, Hardy’s 1955- 1984
Managing Director, Hardy & Greys Ltd 2003-2011