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Sustaining Sea Scallops: Fish, Farm and Film Night!


We are screening Sustaining Sea Scallops tonight at Groundwork! The locally produced and filmed documentary is about how researchers and fishermen team-up to improve the sustainability of not only their industry, but also the underwater ecosystem. Hang out after the screening for a Q&A with the director!

Screening begins at 6:30pm and Q&A at 7:05pm.

After watching Sustaining Sea Scallops, I interviewed director, Elise Hugus, to find out more about what motivated her to create this film. Learn about what she enjoys most in her work, how fisherman inspire her, and how she collaborates with her husband at work, here:

How did you get into the film industry, and what do you enjoy about it the most?

I want to be clear that UnderCurrent Productions isn’t exactly in the film industry. We’re a niche/boutique video production company specializing in environmental and science documentary. That came about kind of through association– we live and work in Woods Hole, which is home to four large marine science institutions and several smaller ones. I personally have a journalism background and my partner, Daniel Cojanu, has a television news, documentary, and feature film background. We saw a need for video services to help the science institutions and non-profits do outreach. And that’s what I enjoy the most– telling complex stories in ways that people can relate to. I have learned so much through this work, and I hope viewers will too.

What initially made you aware of the scallop industry and want to create Sustaining Sea Scallops?

We were hired by the non-profit Coonamessett Farm Foundation to show how their work led to some successes in the sea scallop industry. Since we’re not into doing fluff pieces, we did our research and found that there was a bigger story here– lots of great work from various institutions over the past 20 years have transformed the sea scallop fishery, and could be a model for others.

What’s next for the scallop industry?

Reach out to the American Scallop Association or the Coonamessett Farm Foundation to find out.

What process do you go through when choosing a project to work on?

Is there a budget to support this?!

What are you working on now?

Our biggest project now is a 3-part series about coastal resilience in Massachusetts, i.e. how communities can use or restore “green infrastructure” like wetlands to protect ourselves from sea level rise and storm surges. We’ve shot mostly on the North Shore but will focus on South Shore communities this spring.

Could you tell us a little bit about how you and your husband collaborate together?

We are a partnership, but in terms of roles I’m the producer and he’s the director/director of photography. So I turn ideas for projects into proposals and budgets, then research and schedule the production. I do the interviews, Daniel makes them look good, and shoots most of the B-roll (non-interview) material. I usually handle the sound or a second camera if needed. I’ll put together the scripts and the timeline edit, and Daniel does the majority of the editing.

Elise and Daniel

Daniel Cojanu and Elise Hugus

What inspires you?

In this context, I think the story of the sea scallop industry can be inspiring. A lot of fishermen are resistant to the idea that they “overfish” and there’s a lot of political reasons for the declines of fish populations, like cod for example. But in this story, you could feel a real sense of pride from the fishermen that they’re working in a relatively clean industry, and there’s a lot of respect between them and the researchers. They speak a little differently, but there’s a lot of overlap– they both observe and experiment based on those observations. They also truly love the ocean. So that’s inspiring to me– an example of how people, and an entire industry can change, by making small adjustments to the way they do things.

Do you have any advice for someone interested in the film industry?

Find great stories, and tell them! Even if you don’t have money or equipment to do it the way you want to, the essence of a great story will shine through. Don’t be afraid to start small– in fact, you’ll probably get more audience that way!

Sustaining Sea Scallops Documentary info:

Initial release: 2016
Directors: Daniel Cojanu, Elise Hugus
Produced by Coonamessett Farm Foundation & UnderCurrent Productions

Unable to make the screening tonight at Groundwork? Check out the documentary here:


Lisa Schiavone
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