April 8, 2012

Maine fisherman hopes to be Sundancing

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

People have told Joel Strunk that he has enough energy to power Maine Yankee for a year.

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Joel Strunk hopes to finish his Maine-set “Anatomy of the Tide” in time to submit it for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Photo by Bob Keyes/Staff Writer

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Portland actor Daniel Noel in a scene from “Anatomy of the Tide,” Joel Strunk’s coming-of-age drama set on a Maine island.

Additional Photos Below



That must be true. How else can you explain the tuna fisherman's accomplishment of making a feature-length film with a cast of stars for a little less than a $1 million?

Equally impressive, he and co-producer/fellow fisherman Ryan Post raised almost all that money in Maine, and much of it a few thousand dollars at a time from friends in the fishing community.

Strunk, son of the late Maine singer/songwriter Jud Strunk, wrote the script and directs "Anatomy of the Tide," a drama about sexual abuse on a Maine island known for its lobstering tradition.

Think of it as a cross between "Stand By Me" and "Mystic River." It's a gritty, intense coming-of-age drama that sometimes strikes a little too close to home.

Strunk and his creative team shot most of the movie last fall in Maine. They have a few scenes to complete this spring.

The goal is to finish shooting and editing in time to submit the movie by the fall deadline for consideration for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.


Strunk, 47, lives in Union with his wife and two children. He has spent most of his life chasing tuna. The movie represents a chase of another kind.

After his father died in a plane crash in 1981, Strunk tried to live up to his father's hopes for a life in the entertainment business. In an interview last week, he admitted to feeling the pressure of his father's friendship and legacy."When you lose such a good friend who also happens to be your father in a plane crash, you tend to over-idolize him," he said. "It almost feels like a curse. You put so much pressure on yourself. You sometimes wonder if it's the right thing to do, because what if you don't succeed? Look at the equity you're dealing with. It's your whole life."

That's another way of saying that Strunk has put many of the things most important to him on the line to make this movie. Among them: His reputation as well as his family's legacy.

Jud Strunk rose to unlikely fame. He was a banjo player and comedian, and made it into the Billboard Top 20 with his 1973 ballad "Daisy a Day." But he was best known for his novelty songs and humor. He toured with Andy Williams, and performed many times on national TV, including "The Tonight Show" starring Johnny Carson.

The elder Strunk was a folk hero in Maine, and almost won election to the Maine Senate. He died at age 45 when the plane he was flying crashed during take-off at Carrabasset Valley.

Young Joel toured with his dad, and caught the entertainment bug at a young age. But for many years, he turned away and concentrated on fishing instead.

"Anatomy of the Tide" brings together two of the most important elements of his life: His family and his passion for the water.


Strunk wrote the script for "Anatomy of the Tide" more than a decade ago. He has written a dozen or so movie scripts, and earned the attention of folks in the movie business who encouraged him to keep trying.

"Anatomy" began as a true story about the intentional decimation of the deer herd on Monhegan because of rampant Lyme disease. His idea was to take that story and turn it into a feel-good youth fantasy about local boys who harbor the last living deer on the island.

As he began writing that story, a different storyline emerged. As artists do, Strunk followed the muse and came up with a chilling tale about three island boys in their final summer of adolescence. Each has his own set of hopes and dreams, and is bound by dark secrets.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Gabriel Basso in a scene from “Anatomy of the Tide,” Joel Strunk’s coming-of-age drama set on a Maine island.

Courtesy of Joel Strunk


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