Eric Steel Unravels a Tale in 'Kiss the Water'

Eric Steel, who spends his downtime in Amagansett, has a documentary in this year's film festival. Morgan McGivern

   A fishing fly is a kind of mystical thing, Eric Steel said. "It's one bit of fantasy, and bits and pieces and a hook, all tied together."   

  Megan Boyd, the subject of his film "Kiss the Water,"  created them with everything from feathers to bits of human hair. "There was something about the idea that she learned to tie flies by unwinding other peoples' flies," Mr. Steel said.

   Likewise, to tell a story, he said, "you have to unravel.  We all have our riddles," he said.  "What is it that makes a salmon take a fly - it was Megan's riddle." 
  "She never fished a day in her life; she just had to imagine what would work."

   Mr. Steel, who is a stepson of Charles Gwathmey, said the renowned Modernist architect demonstrated for him "a devotion to something he believed in" and taught him about "what it means to be creative." 

   When not in New York City, he lives in the Amagansett house that Mr. Gwathmey built for his own parents in the early '60s, and often visits the bay at Louse Point.

  He has optioned the book, "deKooning: An American Master," by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, about another regular visitor to Louse Point, for a possible next project. Once an art history major, he is pondering the Abstract Expressionist's work, the bayside landscape, and the many layers one can see through the density of the water -"because memory is like that, too." 

   "Kiss the Water" will be shown on Friday in Sag Harbor at 3:15 p.m. and on Sunday in East Hampton at 11:45 p.m.

  A full interview with the director will appear in this week's issue of the Star.

Although the documentary focuses on a woman who made fly fishing lures, there is very little actual fishing in the film.