After a barn fire destroys a lifetime of master reels and priceless memories, one documentary filmmaker picks up the pieces of his career's cruelest plot twist.

Produced by Emily Kwong for Narratively's "The Movie Life" week. (Feb 25, 2014).


Richard Searls is a warrior among documentarians. He has an indent on his forehead from getting bumped with a tripod leg and a tattoo of a rosebud on his hand, a reference to "Citizen Kane." Most famous for "Dead River Rough Cut," a film he made with Stu Silverstein about two trappers living in the backwoods of Maine, Searls has produced and shot hundreds of films. In late January 2013, the unthinkable happened: A fire destroyed his farmhouse and took with it a lifetime of master reels, recording equipment and negatives.

Emily Kwong, a radio and multimedia producer based in NYC, is an alumna of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and a production assistant at WNYC's Radio Rookies. After graduating from Columbia University ('12), Emily taught digital storytelling in India.

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