Spend 20 minutes speaking with Grammy winner Huey Lewis and chances are good that two of the topics will include his life’s passions—music and fly fishing. If you land on the latter, be prepared to spend more than 20 minutes talking.
Like so many people obsessed with the sport Norman Maclean described as having, “…no clear line between religion and fly fishing,” Lewis lives in Montana where the rivers forever call to him. As Maclean, the son of a Presbyterian minister, added, “…we were left to assume…that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.
Lewis, too, is a dry-fly angler and one of his favorite species to pursue is one of the world’s great gamefish: the steelhead. Steelhead are a super-charged (and large) rainbow trout that hatch in freshwater and then head to sea (or to the Great Lakes) where they spend two or three years before returning to their natal waters to spawn. The coastal rivers of the Pacific Northwest up the Canadian West Coast and into Alaska are prime range for this hard-fighting species.
Many of the same waters inhabited by steelhead are also home to several species of salmon and other species that feed a food chain dependent on the migratory runs of these fish. Brown and black bears, eagles and gulls, wolves, and scores of other birds and mammals are dependent on the runs of salmon and steelhead that pulse from the oceanLike many fish species across the globe, however, our salmon and steelhead face many challenges from pollution, rising temperatures, mines, and dams. That’s why Lewis wanted to lend his celebrity and voice to a new IMAX film that is designed to be a part of changing the narrative for wild fish and the environments they call home.
“I’m a steelhead angler who cherishes the stunning environments they inhabit,” says Lewis. “It was easy to sign-on to something I’m already so passionate about saving.”
For Chicago-based Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation and the Native Fish Society—a conservation organization headquartered in Portland—a chance to showcase these important species and their value to both people and the broader ecosystem in a giant screen IMAX format is an opportunity to reach millions of leaders and future leaders through an unmatched format. The groups have teamed up, along with Lewis, to announce the production of Upstream: The Journey Home, a global giant-screen and IMAX film event.
“Few celebrities are doing more to advance the health of our planet than Huey Lewis,” says the film’s Executive Producer, Charlie Potter. Potter also serves as President and CEO of the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, a group that focuses on conservation communications and advancing education of the wonders of water and wildlife to young and old alike.
McGraw recently released an IMAX film Wings Over Water 3D, narrated by Michael Keaton that is currently playing in nearly 30 cities worldwide. That film is a joint venture between McGraw, Ducks Unlimited, and the National Audubon Society and showcases the importance of the 275,000-square mile prairie wetlands that produce some 70 percent of North America’s water birds.
“We are excited to be a part of what promises to change the way people see our migratory fish species and the coastal ecosystems they depend upon,” says Tom Derry, Executive Director of the Native Fish Society.
The film will showcase the stunning environments salmon and steelhead occupy along with myriad other species including bears and whales that also depend on these ecosystems. Along the way, viewers will learn about these keystone species and what they’re telling us about the health of our planet.
“The venture is more about igniting a conservation movement than it is merely making a movie,” says Potter. “Through a proprietary network reaching more than 10,000 school systems, Upstream: The Journey Home, will match educational curriculum with stunning content to make future leaders aware of the importance of preserving these vital ecosystems.”
In addition to the IMAX and giant screen film, Upstream will be seen by global television and streaming audiences and will create a worldwide conversation about saving some of the planet’s most valuable fish species and the vital ecosystems they depend upon.”
As Sir David Attenborough has said, “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.” “That’s what we hope to change with the immersive IMAX format,” says Lewis. “We want to move hearts and minds to save these incredible places that mean so much.”
For Lewis, it’s about the power of love.