Sunday, January 27, 2013


Intentio - A film by Loïc Wirth from ASSA Filmes on Vimeo.

Have you seen Intentio yet?  You really should, it will blow your hair back.

Released earlier on this year, it is the first feature length offering from insanely talented young Brazilian film maker Loic Wirth.  A wandering, poetic and visually striking piece of cinema, Wirth featured a slew of South American surfing talent alongside a fair smattering of some of the most exciting international big players who do airs and barrels these days.  Locations are ambiguous, a big feat to pull off these days in a world where many of us are bombarded with images of surf spots to the point of instant recognition, and one that highlights the surfing and the beauty of the backgrounds rather than ticking off a world tour check-list.

Mr Loic Wirth, image courtesy of Surfing Magazine.

It just so happens that Loic and I share a mutual friend (I lived and worked with one of his childhood friends in South Africa a few years ago), so I got in touch with him and fired a few questions his way.  His eloquent answers provide a really interesting insight into the creative process that led Loic to produce such a visually engaging and ethereal look at surfing in this day and age.  Check it:

- What route did you take to becoming a surf film-maker and producing Intentio?
There wasn't really a route.Things just happened by little life coincidences that put me in the same path of Pietro França, who was the first person to put a camera in my hands.  I had never filmed before, and never thought about it, I liked to edit for fun but had no clue why would I start filming.  But I fell in love with it.
- Intentio looks set to be the first critically acclaimed surf movie in a while to champion the surfers and waves of South America outside of the focus of the WQS and 'CT. Did you set out to wave the flag for your part of the world?
Not at all.  The persons on the film are the ones who I crossed paths and exchanged some ideas about the movie and believed in those ideas.  A lot of those guys are the reason this film came to life, they helped me going through a lot of the traveling and would always find a room on the floor for me to sleep.  But never for country reasons, it was all about the personalities.
- You've used a whole range of ambiguous locations in the movie and created something of a "fantasy" surf destination. What was the reasoning behind creating this mystique?
To achieve the goal I was aiming for visually, I decided to not really mind mixing locations or surfers.  I didn't want Intentio to be session based, location based or surfer based.  If anything, I guess I wanted it to be message based.  It's all the same world.
- There's a very strong aesthetic to Intentio. Do you feel that thoughtful foregrounds and backdrops or choice of colours in boards and clothing are lacking in a lot of recent surf imagery? Why is this? How and why did you choose not to conform?
Im not really sure how to answer that.  I guess there is a lot of everything out there nowadays.  From people giving focus to the backdrops, or clothing or other details.  I think as long as it is sincere, not for the others to approve, then the rest is a consequence.
- Did you set out with the intention of sharing a particular message with your film, or did you let Intentio develop organically?
There isn't really one message.  My goal was to share something positive.  To instigate whoever would like to be instigated, to question things.  Not to essentially act, but at least question, and let the act come naturally if needed.  The message is that there is no universal message, it's all so personal, it's all in ourselves, I just wanted to bring that out.

Intentio's UK premiere was at the London Surf Film Festival back in October.  Loic unfortunately couldn't make it, so I fired off a few shots to show him the packed room of his people who turned out to enjoy his movie.

The curtain goes up...
Golden Ticket (Thanks to Chris and Demi from LS/FF)
Chris Nelson introducing Intentio
Intentio premiered to a full theatre of hooting surfers on the festival's final night.

Go buy Intentio here, it's well worth it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Volume Control

Surfboards are incredibly complicated works of craftsmanship, of that there is no doubt.  They're three dimensional shapes comprised of varying and complex parabolic curves which are meant to carry a human being across the face of a curved fluid surface and change direction on a whim.  They have to provide optimum hydrodynamic performance in a range of conditions.  We’re all different, our surfboards are all different, and the waves that we surf are all different, every single last one of them.

So why, when it comes to measuring the dimensions of these non-comformist sculptures, do we still revert to the incredibly basic dimensional equation of length x width x thickness?  Is there not more to it than that?

This week I had a piece published by The Inertia which examines the language of surfboard design and presents an argument for adding a fourth dimension onto the scribbled pencil statistics that straddle the stringer of our surfboards: volume.  The piece features incredibly insightful contributions on the topic from the coaches at the Surf Simply resort in Costa Rica and from Nick Blair of Joistik Surfboards in Sydney, Australia, for which I'm incredibly grateful.

If you've got even a passing interest in how your surfboard works and the thought processes and design principles that went into it, then hopefully you will find this article of some interest.  As far as I'm concerned, the more that we all know about our surfboards, the better.

Click here to check it out.  I hope that you like it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Silver Dawn

Walking back up the beach - all limp, lifeless arms and tight shoulders hunched up around your ears from paddling for so many waves;  Salt-crusted eyelashes and eyebrows, and a slight sting when you blink;  Wide awake and yet exhausted at the same time;  Knowing that you've just had a whole day's worth of fun before everyone else's has even begun.  

Roll on lighter mornings and being able to sneak out for a meaningful surf before sinking a coffee and getting on with some work for the day.  

The sun's now starting to sneak a little bit further north each day in the Northern Hemisphere.  It won't be long now before dawn surfs are actually dawn surfs, and not just plain old surfing in the morning.  I for one can't wait.    

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"Sunshine Sunday" Criteria

Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia.  By Chris Burkard for Surfer Magazine.

Today is "Sunshine Sunday" in the UK, the day when travel agents and tour operators prepare for around two million Brits to look for the light at the end of the wintery tunnel and book their summer holidays.  Maybe you're planning 2013's movements today also, and looking forward to the waves yet to come?
Trips, projects, expeditions, adventures - call them what you will (although if we're being picky, you can't plan adventures, they're what happens when a trip or expedition goes wrong), many of us populate our daydreams with these and while away the boredom of long, lonely drives or any other mind-numbing downtime planning and scheming.
This year I'm setting myself some criteria for the projects on my to-do list.  Each trip, if at all possible, has to fall into one of the following two categories:

  • An ordinary trip done in an interesting way.
  • An interesting trip done in an ordinary way.
It's that simple.  If it's a trip that's close to home or the sort of thing that's common fodder then I'm going to endeavour to do it in an interesting way, and if it's more of an expedition or exploratory trip then I'll probably have to undertake it by the (most likely stock-standard) ways and means available to me.   

These days, you'll be lucky to find something, anything, that somebody else hasn't done already - but that's no reason not to do it.

The six-wheeled truck used to explore the Kamchatka Peninsula.  Photo by Chris Burkard.

Over the past few months I've taken a lot of inspiration from the trips that these images are taken from.  The January issues of Surfer magazine and Surf Europe feature a trip to the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia, a trip that was well documented through various social networking outlets by Chris Burkard and Foster Huntington who had portable solar panels with them to charge their cameras and laptops.   They scored good, fun, cold surf where nobody really expected it, exploring the region in a six-wheeled former Soviet military truck and a helicopter.  There's a great video available to view (it can't be embedded on this blog) through Surfer magazine, here.

Kamchatka campfire.  Photo by Chris Burkard.

Around the same time as the Kamchatka trip, Californian pro-surfer Dan Malloy was cycling the length of California with two friends, carrying all of their camping and surfing gear in panniers and on bike trailers.  They travelled slowly, stopping off to surf, visit friends and work stints on organic farms along the coast.  It just so happens, as luck would have it, that Dan's two companions comprised a professional photographer and a videographer.  

Slow is Fast.  Photo by Dan Malloy.

Dan Malloy running out for a surf, the Slow is Fast bicycle trip, California.  Photo by Chris Burkard.

Feeling inspired?  There are so many ways that you can go, do, and experience places and faces these days if you put your mind to it.  Maybe it'll be a staycation with a twist, a micro-adventure in your own backyard.  Or perhaps it'll be a trip which you spend more time researching, planning and preparing for than you actually spend doing it.  Either way, it'll make for a memorable one.  One that you can talk about over a drink in the pub when the days are short this time next year.  An experience that might just set the tone, or the wheels in motion, for the next.

Scott G Toepfer takes brilliant photographs of people having too much fun riding around on motorbikes.  Check out It's Better In The Wind.