Blake Wright stars in “The Hunting Trail.” Photo courtesy of Henry Riley Productions

“I don’t see a lot of movies about hunters that have that sense of realism,” says Blake Wright. 

He should know. An avid bowhunter from a family of avid bowhunters, Wright stars in the new short film “The Hunting Trail.” The spare and grueling story of a young hunter’s very bad day in the Maine woods came from an idea Wright had back in 2016, when he’d first started pursuing acting. Teaming with frequent filmmaking partner Henry Riley (who wrote, directed and edited the film), Wright is all alone on screen for the entire 20-minute run time. 

That sounds like an actor’s dream, and, for Wright, it was – most of the time. “I don’t know if a whole crew would even want to be out there,” Wright said, laughing, as he recalled the 14-hour shooting days in the rain and cold and mud of “The Hunting Trail’s” October shoot in the Nobleboro woods. And, indeed, the shoot consisted of just Wright, Riley and one production assistant, a suitably sparse crew for what is one character’s lonely and painful journey following an incident Wright says is all too common.

“The main plot point of the film happens all the time,” said the wilderness-experienced Wright, “Eighty percent of injuries to bowhunters happen very much like that.” Wright’s being cagey about the accident that befalls his unnamed character, so I will, too. I’ll just say that it looks incredibly painful, and life-threatening, made all the more so by the protagonist’s decision to set out alone into the deep Maine woods. 

“That’s the driving force,” said Wright, who first met moviemaking partner Riley at Southern Maine Community College. “Henry and I are big into the psychological in our films. This character is carrying a lot of guilt and shame, so he’s sort of put himself in exile on his own on this hunting trip. He’s escaping something.” As for the calamity that shifts “The Hunting Trip” from character study to survival story, Wright only says, “A distracted mind is the cause of many accidents.”


Citing the 2013 Robert Redford survival-at-sea drama “All Is Lost” as a major inspiration for “The Hunting Trail,” Wright says that the theme of “man versus nature” has always appealed to him. “It’s metaphorical, too, for the soul of a character, having to come to terms with what has happened, emotionally and physically.” And even if Wright himself has never found himself in his character’s perilous circumstance, he’s not short of real-life examples to draw from. 

“My grandfather’s been bowhunting since he was 13,” said Wright, noting that an annual family hunting trip coincided with the film shoot. “When he was 60, he had something similar happen to him.” For Wright, the acting challenge was to put himself into his character’s extreme situation, something that, as a performer, he took to with full commitment. “How do you act this out, in these elements when clearly you’ve never done it before?” mused Wright. “How do you put yourself in that pain? You have to go all-in.” 

Having seen “The Hunting Trail,” I can attest that Wright does just that. Riley’s camera captures the stark beauty of Maine’s wilderness and the specificity of the character’s routine as he strikes out on his solo trek, while Wright is magnetic as a taciturn man whose loaded silence is only broken when the nature he’s exploring turns on him with one, seemingly insignificant misstep. “The trip the week before the shoot with my father, grandfather and uncles worked out perfectly for the film,” said Wright. “Preparation for the film was very physical, it’s about getting into the mindset to be the best, most ethical hunter you can be.”

With Riley and Wright’s previous collaboration, the Lewiston-shot short “Nighthawks” (featured in this column last year) having made the film festival rounds to gratifying acclaim, Wright says “The Hunting Trip” is the team’s latest effort to go out into the world in search of viewers. (The film’s striking trailer boasts over 59,000 views on YouTube.)

“We’ve been accepted to five festivals so far, and we’re out to a lot more,” said Wright, who lives in Bangor. “We’re really hoping to get into the Maine International Film Festival and the Maine Outdoor Film Festival, too.” After that, Wright and Riley plan to hold public showings of the film around the state. 

As for his bowhunting family? “My grandfather’s almost 80 now,” Wright said, happily, “and when I showed it to him, he was grinning ear to ear.” Even if, Wright says, the veteran hunter chided, “This is a bad advertisement for the equipment that you’re using.” 

You can learn more about “The Hunting Trip,” alongside Henry Riley’s other filmmaking work at his website, For more info about Blake Wright, check out his Instagram page, blakewrightpresents.

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.

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