Describe your relationship to surfing…
We dated for years and she was playing hard to get. From an early age we went out on numerous dates and I found the whole thing pretty tough going, I thought I was getting somewhere and then out of nowhere I was in the doghouse. I remained interested though and I am glad I did. We used to go on dates and all I would get was stinky popcorn, but I dreamed of that perfect day where she would be clean and welcoming…and you know what, it happened, I lost my virginity and have been heavily corrupted ever since with an insatiable appetite for more.
What inspired you to translate your passion for surfing into a creative endeavor?
I am a bit of a hodad and I noticed Mother Ocean kept giving all the best waves to the arty folk and the musicians….so, I started hanging out with them more. Once I started hanging out with those types of people I started seeing surfing from another perspective and it is beautiful…so beautiful I had to document it.
How would you describe modern popular surfing culture?
I don’t…I am more interested in the ancient and unpopular.
What is the message behind Switchfoot 2?
Surfer, Ryan Thomas spent much of the ’90s drifting back and forth between his native Southern California as a freelance artist in the surf industry, and extended escapes to Northern Cal for the study of marine biology. In 1998 he picked up a super-8mm film camera from surf cinematographer, Greg Weaver (Forgotten Island of Santosha, Stylemasters), and soon finished the mysto road/art/surf film Scratch Miscellaneous (2000). He graduated from Art Center College of Design in 2001, and since then has directed surf films such as The Bruce Movie (2005) while becoming a key creative at Volcom’s Veeco Productions. RT’s filmmaking extends beyond the surf/skate/snow genres with his independently made music docs such as Concentration Face (2005) and Portals (2007)about the band Hella. And he continues to work in still photography and the other art mediums he formed his roots in prior to filmmaking.
What is your favorite artistic medium (ie, film, photography, dancing, etc) for your creative work around surfing. Which endeavor best conveys the stoke for you?
I don’t really have a single favorite. My roots are in drawing, graphic art, still photography, writing and music, which moved towards film as a place to combine it all. And since a film is made over a period of time, I enjoy doing the rest as a more immediate creative outlet along the way. Whether it reads in the work or not, they all inform each other in the creative process.
As Scratch Miscellaneous was filmed on super 8mm film, do you think (specifically in motion picture filmmaking) that new technologies in video can capture the essence of surfing as much as film?
That question can be easily answered in one word: Litmus. As far as I can tell, it wasn’t made on film emulsion, and it was a huge head change for countless surfers. Hydrodynamica is primarily being shot on video and even the low-res rough cut edits on the Hydro blog are essential viewing. I’m pretty sure The Tyler Warren Experiments and Displacementare being shot primarily on video and I’m excited to see those films too. I love the look of super-8 and 16mm, but the essence isn’t in any camera type or emulsion, it’s in what the camera is being pointed at and the choices the cameraman is making, coupled with the editing. Surfing is motion, so any medium that captures or even freezes motion has the potential to portray the essence.
Describe the differences you see in the two mediums besides personal preference?
Nathan Oldfield is a husband, father, surfer, shaper, filmmaker, photographer, writer, school teacher, bonsai enthusiast, sea gazer, rock collector from the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia. He is interested in documenting beautiful things and making stuff
Your latest film, Seaworthy, was a great work of beautiful surf footage and fresh music. What’s it like to make a surf film and how fruitful are the rewards of your efforts after the film has been screened and released on DVD?
Making a surf film seems romantic, but it’s actually a lot of hard work, especially when you do it all independently. It’s much more than just standing on the beach shooting, it’s the endless hours of actually conceiving something and putting it all together over a sustained period of time. Seaworthyis an entirely self-made and self-funded work. I have a few friends who sometimes help me shoot the double angle, but other than that I do everything by myself: shooting, editing, writing, music acquisition, packaging, production, promotion. It can get a little overwhelming at times, because making a surf film all on your own is a massive undertaking. Once it’s all done, there are rewards, but the rewards aren’t especially financial. I mean I could have made a lot more money spending all those thousands of hours doing something much more lucrative. But making money was never my motivation for making surf films. In lots of ways, making films is like making my own surfboards. It’s just part of who I am as a surfer, it’s just an extension of my surfing life, rather than a conscious decision or whatever. And like making my own boards from start to finish, you know – shaping, glassing, fin-making, the whole deal – making my own films is similar, I do the whole thing. So it’s a very satisfying process. It fulfills a very real need that I have to make stuff.
A lot of filmmakers have been showing a lot of alaia riding lately in their films. Do you think alaias will ever really catch on because of their difficulty, or will they remain a niche in surfboard manufacturing?