Friday, December 31, 2010

turbofire to zenith

Album cover concept for Turbofire to Zenith. This is the band for the film. A little bit of Morning of the Earth inspiration on this one. We're almost finished with the new long trailer music.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Bleronk, twin brother of Tonyo in some previous shots. These guys are all smiles all the time. This session was really fun to be out in the water for. End of day, rain, and low tide fast little barrels at 66 beach. The current was so strong out there, though everything looks pretty calm here.

Looking at the camera: when I started on this film, I had this idea that I'd film surfers as they lived their lives, and the camera would be invisible. The surfers wouldn't be looking at the camera. That was my idea. I thought this would make the film feel much more genuine. More like sitting in on someone's life, seeing what its really like.

When you have a camera out though, everyone wants to look at it. So that right there makes my original idea sort of hard to pull off. The more you film with someone, the more comfortable they get with having a noisy camera pointed at them. But guys like Bleronk will look at the camera nearly every time I have it out. Every time they pass me by, even if we've been filming a lot. They have fun with goofing off and getting shots.

Somewhat to my surprise, early on when I started getting footage back I realized I was getting some of my best shots when people looked at the camera. If they were comfortable, and looked at the camera, their real personality just shined through. The shots had feeling and soul. I decided well, with this film, anyone can look at the camera any time and its ok.

The moment you ask someone not to look at the camera, they are acting. They have to consciously pretend you are not there. And therefore, you are no longer getting the real person. You have an actor in front of you then.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Blacky, from Legian, Bali.

the old man on the beach

This old Balinese man was collecting something washing up with the waves in his basket. I'm not sure what. The swell was big, and each wave would wash up over him. He'd stay in one spot for a few minutes, then get up and move a ways down and sit down again. He didn't seem to pay any attention to the surfers out there.

This man was very old. He walked hunched over, bow legged. And he'd put his basked on top of his head when he walked. I often wonder what these old timers must think of all this surfing, and cameras, and dance clubs, and all that is Bali now.

That's Mikala Jones on that wave. I didn't have my Bolex fully wound up on this one so I only got him dropping in. So this ride will make for better stills than a shot in the movie.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

darmaputra tonyo

Tonyo, from Padma, up north in Bali. Out of focus in the foreground are offerings that local Balinese lay out on the beach. Some of the Padma guys helped me dig a big hole in the sand for my tripod so I could get low enough to get these shots.

Friday, December 24, 2010


This was after an end of day session in the rain out at 66 beach in Bali. Young Diah from Seminyak was out there with some of the guys from Padma, surfing the left at low tide. Its mostly fast closeouts, and surprisingly heavy with a really strong current when its really low and there's enough swell. When we came in, Diah's grandfather(in the hat), was fishing with his net near the shore. He had all these little fish strewn about on the sand and Diah and him were combing through them.

There's an interesting juxtaposition of old an new along this stretch of beach. Out of frame to the right is a row of dance clubs that go off all night long, and the beach is often crowded with tourists. There are also a few local fisherman who come out at the end of the day and fish from the beach. Diah's grandfather would have lived through the rapid change that happened in his home village. What was once empty rice fields between their family's homes and the beach is now a maze of hotels, villas, shops, traffic, and dance clubs.

In this film frame, left to right, is Tonyo, Diah's grandfather, Diah, Demian, Bleronk, and Dylan.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

raju vs blacky vs kadek

Not really sure what the rules are for three player chess. This was right before an end of the day surf in Padma. Brothers Tonyo and Bleronk are looking on. This frame is from an HD transfer, though I did downsize the image. Decided to include the full super 16mm frame in the transfer, and I love the look. I like seeing the dirty edges of the film gate. Seems to add a lot of character, and make it seem more genuine.

I'm doing my film transfers in Chicago at Filmworkers and Astrolab. Ryan Emerson is the colorist on this, and all the footage I've transferred there. Just want to give a big thanks to Ryan, Duke Shin, and Chad Rohrback. They've been awesome to collaborate with on this, and have really gone out of their way to help me out with this no-budget film project/dream. Thank you for believing in this project, guys.

Ryan invited me in today to see some of my recent footage projected in their theater, cinema quality digital projection from the HD transfer. After more than four years of shooting, this was the first time I've seen my footage on a big screen. I was so happy to see what it looks like projected big. I thought it looked beautiful. The super 16 bolex footage looks like a painting in motion when projected big. Like a pointillism painting in motion. I had been really unsure of how this footage would look projected in a theater...I had concerns it might be too soft, or just not hold up. It holds up beautifully though, and I'm excited about that.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Darmaputra Tonyo of Padma, Bali. If you've surfed Padma Beach, there's a good chance you saw this kid and his twin brother, Bleronk, getting lots of waves. They're 19 now, so not really kids anymore. But they still kinda act like it. Though Bleronk is a hit with the ladies now, and he drives. Tonyo doesn't drive. He usually sits in the back.

Up on the current banner, that's either Tonyo or Bleronk in that shot. I'm not sure which one, its from over four years ago when they surfed beat up boards, and were in the water most of the time. They're still in the water most of the time. The thing that always struck me about these brothers and their friends, is they just always seem to be having fun. Its awesome. Their crew is almost like a little tornado, wherever they go there is just this unbridled raw energy. I think tourists are a bit intimidated at times. They're always on the verge of doing something ridiculous, like randomly pinching the butt of a local massage girl or humping a car. When I walk into a warung with them, they storm in, all barefoot and walk behind the counter, and the look on the warung lady's face is like, "uh-oh, here we go again..."

The best thing about these guys is its just all smiles all the time.

Tonyo is ranked number 16 now on the Indonesian Pro Surfing Tour. They did a great short video piece on him here:

I see they spelled his name Tonjo...I'm going to go with the way I've always seen him spell it, which is Tonyo. Probably both are correct...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

the surfer, the fisherman, and the barrel

Super 16mm film frames of Daniel Jones. The super refers to the wider 16mm film format, where the film gate is wider, and thus the edge of the film that used to be reserved for sound in years past, gets exposed also. And you get a native widescreen image. My cousin Rob and I converted my old Bolex camera to super 16 last year, and this footage is from the first trip I took after that. For the most part, it worked really good. A few rolls were all blurred though as I threw a few things off internally on the camera when I tore it apart to convert it. Had the camera serviced by Dieter Schaefer at Procam earlier this year and it works great now. I should mention that this camera filled up with salt water a few years ago in Kiribati, when the small boat I was on nose dived. WD-40 kept it working on that trip, and its still going strong, though it has a bit of rust.

I have a habit of getting my gear soaked in the ocean. While filming Daniel at this spot above, his last wave of the trip, he went over the falls and broke his board in two. When the front half of his board floated in with an oncoming rush of water over the reef that the fisherman is on, I went to grab it. I forgot my ipod was in my pocket. It got soaked and never worked again. My girlfriend had given that to me for my birthday. I was so bummed. If only it operated on a wind-up spring driven motor like my good ol' Bolex from 1967.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010


10 year old Raju at his home break in Padma, Bali. Scott Goldsbury shot these also.

"Hey, hey!!! Me!! Me!!! Shoot me!!!!" I hear this kid say as I'm getting in the water a year ago to shoot with some of the older local guys there. He paddles out around me, and first wave he catches in the shore break he throws up a huge frontside slash right in my face. His board was all beat up and yellowed, and had hilarious scribbles and drawings all over it.

Raju charges for a young kid. He's not afraid of barreling closeouts. He's out there surfing right alongside all the older guys every day, like Dylan, Bleronk, and Tonyo, and he's learned a lot from them.

A few months ago Raju got his first sponsor, Hurley. Its a really big deal for him and his family. They are helping to pay for his schooling for one.

Raju's dad, Bala, teaches surfing right our front at Padma Beach. You can't miss him, he the only guy around there with a big curly silver/black mullet. The school right on the beach is called Soul Surfer School.

I really dig the top photo of Raju in the barrel. It sums up this kid's personality, and just how much fun he has surfing. The couple magazines Scott showed this photo to did not want it since you could not see his board or any logos.

above photos © 2010 Scott Goldsbury

Sunday, December 5, 2010


This past summer in Indo I was shooting with the local guys in Padma, and this tall young blonde haired guy comes out of the water with broken swim fins and his camera in a ziploc plastic bag type housing. He tells me he's been shooting with all the same local guys I was shooting with. I'm thinking, great, now every time I want to shoot with the crew, this guy with the tea time accent is going to be sticking his plastic bag into the shots, awesome.

Turns out Scott Goldsbury is a really great guy. He's from New Zealand. The local crew view him as family almost. And he can shoot some nice photos. I couldn't believe he took his most valuable possession out in a plastic bag at the break pictured above. Its pretty thick plastic to be fair. We ended up shooting quite a bit together with all the local guys and it was a lot of fun. Scott is now one of the contributing photographers for hangs upon nothing. Thanks for jumping on board Scott!

above photos © 2010 Scott Goldsbury

Thursday, December 2, 2010

bonzer in indo

A super 16mm frame grab. This is Daniel Jones a few months ago in Indo. This board is a 5'11" if I remember right. It's a 5 fin bonzer shaped by Malcolm Campbell. I love watching Daniel surf this board on a fast wave. This is at Uluwatu, and that wave seems like the perfect testing grounds for a high performance bonzer shape.

This frame grab is from a lower resolution film to video transfer...but I should be getting some HD transfers back soon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

turbofire to zenith

Back home in Indiana, just picked up a drum set and an acoustic bass to record more music with. This is the name for the film's band. My big goal is to tour the film with the band playing the score along live. As of now just writing and recording...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

people on the reef

Ryan Turner brought his wife and two young kids on this trip. His daughter is in diapers still, and his son is about five. At low tide many local people from the nearby village would roam the reef looking for food. I'm guessing sea cucumbers mainly, but not really sure. Kids and adults would go out there. While Ryan was out in the water surfing, his two kids would get right out there on the reef with their pink and yellow plastic buckets and sand shovels and try to look for sea creatures with all the locals. They fit right in, and they took their job really seriously!

Monday, November 1, 2010

poster sketch

Here's another recent poster sketch for the film. I did most of this one during a plane ride from Yogyakarta. You see some amazing volcanoes flying in or out of there. I was surpised how close Mt. Merapi is to that large city.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

film poster design

While away the last three months, spent some time sketching some more poster designs for the film. This one is supposed to be Mikala in the barrel of a big frothy one.

Monday, October 11, 2010

4 + a finbox

I got this abused Campbell Bros bonzer off Ebay. It was about 6'5" with a lopped off nose. The glass was crumbling off the board. Decided to strip it down and reshape it as best as I could, plus added some tint and a few leaves from my yard.

Monday, September 27, 2010

the left

I spent nearly 8 months total as volunteer crew on a boat with hopes of making it to this atoll wave. My last two weeks on board, we finally made it there. This is a 16mm film frame grab from footage I shot during the trip. The frame grab is from the workprint.

I've been shooting a lot the last three months on this film project. And I can finally see that completing this is within reach. I should be finished shooting a year from now.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

gulf of mexico

In the early stages of this project I took a last minute trip down to Texas during Hurricane Rita. This is my favorite image from the trip. During the peak of the swell, a huge tanker headed out to sea right past all the surfers, the tanker riding up and down on the swells. It was a spectacular site. And I felt it summed up Gulf Coast surfing well. Eerie looking at this now with the current spill.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Some portraits I did last July after a trip with some of the guys in the film. This one was to a remote corner of Indonesia on a local boat. Mikala Jones, his brother Daniel, and Timmy Turner. Daniel at top in the barrel of a lifetime. And that drawing of Timmy is of how he reacted when I asked him about his artificial skull. Without hesitation he told me to feel the line around his entire head where his real skull ends and his new one begins. Amazingly, all the scars are under his hair and you can't see them when his hair is grown out.

There is a great write up on Timmy here:

poster concepts

Here are some poster concepts for the film I painted a while back. I made these small scale and painted them on hand made dvd cases for some different edits of trailers I have made so far.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

jason lukas

One of the local boys getting barreled in Legian, Bali.

walking out

Bleronk cutback, East Bali

I'll never forget this sky. We had bakso(meatball noodle soup) here on the side of the road after a long day of surf in East Bali with the local crew from Legian.

Koming's house


dusk in Seminyak

Jason Lukas shot these photos on a trip we took together to Indonesia. We decided up front to shoot film for almost everything. It took Jason a while to get through all the processing and scanning. I'm really digging the results though.

Jason's work can be seen in person right now at Barbara & Barbara Gallery in Chicago(1021 N. Western)

above photos ©2010 J Lukas