by Marc DiCesare

Its three days before Thanksgiving and the rst real cold snap of the season has just engulfed the northeast. On a bright and beautiful afternoon in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, it’s an unusual 1 degrees. Camped-out inside of a warm editing bay, Cutter Hodierne is laying down the final edits to his latest film project, which is rapidly approaching a tight deadline for this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Cutter Hodierne is part of the next wave of hot, young filmmakers. The thing that makes him stand out is that he is naturally gravitating towards socially conscious material. He was born in San Francisco in 1986 to two journalist parents. When Cutter was born, his parents had sold everything to pursue their dream of sailing around the world. Purchasing a 32-foot double-ended fiberglass cutter, Alicia and Robert Hodierne named their son after the style of their boat. The boat’s actual name was ‘Yankee Lady.’ Without a doubt, young Cutter would have a unique start in life from the day he was named. When Cutter was nine months old, Richard set out on a solo 30- day sail to the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia. It would be there that Alicia and her son would meet Richard to start their dream journey. For the next 3 years, Cutter and his family would sail the South Pacific seas. Followed by a two-year stint in Japan, where both of Cutter’s parents taught English, it was back to the States. The Hodierne family chose to settle in the suburbs of the Washington .C. area for Cutter’s formative years.

Photo by Marc DiCesare /
Cutter Hodierne

H-B Woodlawn is a renowned alternative public school located in Arlington County, Virginia, based on the liberal education movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s. It’s the kind of school where teachers and students alike are addressed by their rst names. It was here that Cutter began to thrive in his filmmaking abilities. While he was still in high school, Cutter embarked on his rst feature length project in 200. Remember the Warriors: Wakefield the Movie was a story that documented the school’s basketball team and its improbable run to the state championship. It was a feel-good story, bringing attention to community and teamwork. He sold many copies of “Remember the Warriors: Wakefield the Movie” and knew he had discovered his calling. Fast forward a couple of years to Emerson College, Cutter began shooting music videos, and earned his stripes enough to make a living shooting and editing videos for artists in the area. As fate would have it, doing local freelance editing work for director Tom Krueger in 2009, enabled Cutter to land a gig working for the band U2. Cutter took a chance on a one-day’s notice to travel to Barcelona and assist Krueger in shooting and editing all-access media content for the band. It may have been his natural instinct with a camera in hand, but it was definitely his editing skills that propelled him through the rest of the U2 tour. The end result was a wealth of high-level production experience and the birth of his IMB page.

The thing that makes Cutter Hodierne stand out in the latest generation of young filmmakers is his content selection. Not long after coming home, with the money he had made working for U2, he was positioning himself for his next project. At 2 years old, Cutter was ready to take on the world. 

Photo by Marc DiCesare /
Cutter Hodierne

After years of reading about piracy in Somalia and seeing hijackings on the news, Cutter had become fascinated with the subject. It just so happened that 2011 was the worst recorded year of piracy off the coast of Somalia. Cutter researched beyond the media frenzy that labeled the pirates as evil terrorists. With two of his long time friends, John Hibey and Raphael Swann, Cutter financed a trip to Mombasa, Kenya. They armed themselves with minimal gear and a working script for a short lm about a young Somali fisherman who is forced to partake in piracy to survive. “Fishing Without Nets” was born.

Cutter had a burning passion for the story he needed to tell. He was willing to suffer for his art. And suffer they did. The three kids from America, in Mombasa with nothing but creative drive, kept running into problem after problem. Bribery from local law enforcement, permit problems for prop weaponry, imprisonment and more than a few hairy situations with locals. What was supposed to be a month long trip turned out to be almost four months in Kenya by the time they got the shots that they wanted. Upon returning to the states, Cutter had begun to edit the footage from Kenya. Months went by. He finally started to show his work to friends and colleagues. All of the positive responses led to his realization that he had made something compelling and different.

“Fishing Without Nets” tells the story of Abdi. A young self- respecting Somali, who has limited options to take care of his wife and daughter in Yemen. He turns to piracy for the chance to be reunited with his family. After hijacking a French oil tanker, Abdi finds a common bond with the hostage he is keeping for ransom. This leads to Abdi’s internal struggle with his decisions as his fellow hijackers are starting to resort to violence.

This is no Captain Phillips. The script has been flipped. Cutter has chosen to shine a light of humanity down on the pirates. It was a masterstroke of socially conscious and responsible storytelling. In January 2012, after being entered into the Sundance Film Festival. “Fishing Without Nets” won the 2012 Short Filmmaking rand Jury Prize. Winning at Sundance will open many doors, so it naturally led to the evolution of “Fishing Without Nets” from short lm into a full- blown feature. With the support and financial backing of Think Media and Vice, Cutter and his partners, with a crew of 30 or so fearless filmmakers, travelled back to Kenya to lm “Fishing Without Nets,” the feature lm.

The dedication to do pure storytelling by Cutter is commendable to say the least. He is an artist’s artist. A filmmaker who is still inspired by the layered complexity of humanity. Cutter Hodierne seems willing to tell the other side of the story. It is usually the side of the story that is experienced best without wearing a blindfold. 

Editors Note: As of this publication, “Fishing Without Nets” was awarded for Best U.S. Director: Dramatic Category at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.