Filmaker and Class V Kayaker, Brook Aitken on filming


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Oscar winning documentary “The Cove” has been making waves in the film world since its premier at the Sundance Film Festival last January. The film, which has brought the plight of dolphin hunts to the forefront of environmental activism, was filmed “guerrilla-style” without permission of the Japanese government. PL sat down with a pivotal member of the renegade film crew, Class V Kayaker and film-maker Brook Aitken for a dose of what it was like on set…

PL: The film has a distinct “guerrilla-style” feel. How real was the danger? How did you prepare for the shoot?

BA: As far as filming it goes I would say that the sense of danger and uncertainty was like kayaking class 5 section read and run. No scouting! We really had to be prepared for the worst.

PL: Did you think about getting captured?

BA: Several of us had $10k in Yen, a passport, a knife and the number of the US Embassy in Tokyo on us if things got really bad. We would grab the last shot tape, get on the nearest train to Osaka and buy a ticket home. The alternative of being caught and doing 28 days in jail (before they have to charge you) was not an option for me.

PL: In your opinion, do paddlers and kayakers tend to lean towards environmental activism?

BA: I think most paddlers have an acute sense of environment and they understand the impact people have on the environment. Kayakers are a unique breed of adventurers, nature enthusiasts, and explorers. What is happening with these dolphins, whether or not you have any personal connection to them, are really a microcosm of what is happening to our planet. Its not just about the brutal slaughter of the species; it an attitude towards our environment.

PL: “The Cove” has won an Academy Award, among other accolades. What do you hope people are talking about when they leave the theatre?

BA: This film may make you sad or even angry. However, at the end of the day hopefully you feel empowered and optimistic that every individual can make a change, one that effects us all. You are either an activist or an in-activist. I think kayakers by nature would choose to be activists and choose to protect our environment.

For more information on Brooke Aitken, check out his website:

For more information on the film “The Cove,” check out the official

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Paddlers writing about all things paddling.


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