Sunday, January 30, 2011

the atoll

On the edge of the world.

This transfer is from a workprint, transferred to HD on a Spirit. This is regular 16mm cropped in on, and I shot this before I converted my Bolex to Super 16.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Spit out of the barrel. These frame grabs are from a low quality film to video transfer without color correction, unlike many of the recent frame grabs that are from full HD transfers. Still, I love this sequence. The force of the spit of the barrel sends Mikala's hair flying in that last frame.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

go fly a kite

There's something to be admired about a culture that loves to fly kites. I've gotta think that a group of people for whom making and flying kites is a part of life, well, they seem happy. I feel people like this are just stoked on life. I look up and see huge kites all across the sky, and it makes me happy, makes me kind of relaxed. Some of these are literally up in the clouds.

This is Tonyo and Bleronk's father, during their birthday party. I think Bleronk made this kite. Their father used to surf back in the day, and it is said that he ripped. I wouldn't doubt it at all. It was awesome meeting their family. They were all just like Tonyo and Bleronk. Smiles and stoke.

There wasn't much wind this day, and the kite fell behind neighbors houses a few times, but finally it took off.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

three people

click to enlarge:

The photo above was shot by a news photographer who was on the park rangers' helicopter. The type written note Chuck sent back to his parents with the photo.

I asked Chuck to describe what it felt like up on the volcano. Here is part of what he sent me:

"At sunrise we arrived at the foot of the vent, the earth constantly shook, the roar was comparable to a jet at takeoff, and as we got closer we could no longer hear each other. The sight of seeing a volcano up close was beyond description. I took pictures and pictures don’t show what it was like. I got close to take a picture and stopped when I became fearful of catching fire in the scorching heat..."

Thursday, January 20, 2011


More from the collection of Chuck Corbett. The second photo shows what happens to photographs in the tropics. Many of Chuck's old photos are half withered away. I had to look at this one for a while...that's a tree on Kilauea Volcano, with the fiery lava plume behind it. I will have to dig up the shot of Chuck getting scolded by the ranger I mentioned in a previous post, complete with lava shooting into the sky right behind them. It's even more ridiculous than the drinking shot.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

the black wave

This was my first try at making any art for this film project. This is from about four years ago, maybe more. I was calling the film by a different name back then. I made a series of linoleum block prints that I've mostly used to write short letters to friends on the reverse side. They are all quite different. I used a water soluble printing ink that I found out is not very permanent. I gave one of these to my friends Dom and Amber, and they framed it. Somehow Dom spilled some water on it one day, and the whole image sort of dripped off.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

chuck corbett

Chuck Corbett, Kilauea Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii. Chuck did the day hike in with two friends to the edge of the erupting caldera of Kilauea back in April, 1984. Chuck's friend shot some photos. Just after this was shot, park rangers flew in on helicopter to issue each of them fines, and then the rangers flew off, leaving the three of them to hike out. It took them through the night to get back to their car. Chuck's fine alone ended up being $600.

I don't even know where to start with writing about Chuck. A few books could be written about this guy's life, and they wouldn't be like anything else. He was born in Alabama. He slept through a tornado that ripped the roof off his childhood home. His family soon after moved to California and he learned to surf there as a kid. At 15, he left by himself for Hawaii. By 18 he was in Guam. By 19 he was lost in Kiribati, where he stayed for the majority of 30 years. He surfed the atolls there alone for most of that time. He married a local beauty and they started a family. He left her for a perfect wave and another woman on a farther off atoll.

Chuck is a pretty big part of this film. I spent nearly 8 months total as volunteer crew on his boat so that I could film what his life is like. I had no idea what I was in for. We started in Hawaii, and ended up in Kiribati, sailing the 1000 mile passage during peak cyclone season. I did not want to make the passage during cyclone season, and many experienced sailors said they would never think of doing it. This whole time period was the biggest adventure of my life, and also the most trying experience of my life. This guy it seemed, had gone off and lived the life that most surfers have at one time or another dreamed about. I was really curious to see what this was actually like. It was not what I imagined.
Chuck surfing an atoll reef pass alone, 1984. Also of note, the photo of the young girl in the banner is one of Chuck's two daughters, Annie.

Monday, January 17, 2011

look out the window

I shot this not long after lift off from Kiribati. Middle of the Pacific Ocean. I love looking out the window during flights, and shooting footage or photos of what's out there. This is a 35mm still, I shot this with an old Canon AE-1...a few months later saltwater took the life out of that has some electronics in it. This was my mom's camera from the 70's, and she gave it to me as my first camera years ago.

This is the first of a few posts I'll do about imagery in the new collage at the top of the blog.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Bleronk, Super 16mm film frames.

I've been noticing that a lot of shots that won't make it into the final film, still have really cool moments. Shots(clips) that I'd otherwise overlook. Now that I'm looking through some just for interesting frames, I'm finding imagery I didn't really think much about when watching through the footage.

The difference between stills and motion pictures is really interesting in this way. With surf photography a photographer can get a cover shot out of a ride that might not make into a movie. With stills, you only need a fraction of a second. That's not really an advantage. It's just a difference. With motion pictures, a shot usually needs to be strong from beginning to end, many frames in succession where the composition is sometimes constantly changing. For a surf film, I think this is most difficult when filming in the water.

There are moments in modern history burned into our consciousness as a result of still photos. I don't think these moments would still be remembered so clearly generations later if only shot with motion pictures. A couple examples that come to mind:


With stills we remember the composition more clearly in part because we only see one frame. With motion pictures, especially when the camera is moving, or what's happening on screen is changing quickly, we don't remember as much visually.

Compare the two different Star Wars trilogies. The first trilogy is full of shots where the camera is not moving much, or maybe there is a simple pan. Such as shots showing the vastness of Tatooine. Those simple shots with strong compositions are burned into my mind forever. When I think about the second trilogy, I don't remember many shots...I remember more of a blur. The one shot that I really remember from the second trilogy was a shot that echoed the famous shot in the first Star Wars where Luke is standing outside his Uncle's house, staring at the double sunset.

I sometimes love shots where the camera is moving. It can work wonderfully. I like the contrast of cutting from a moving shot to a stationary shot, or vice versa. I feel like watching a lot of movies over the past fifteen years or so, that the camera is moving though, just because they can move it through space. And because of this, I feel like a lot of recent films have less shots that stick in our minds because with a moving shot we are likely not going to remember one singular composition from it. It's more of a blur.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Bleronk. Bolex Super 16mm film frame.

Shankar, a surfer from India said to me, "You know, anytime I see these guys, they are smiling! I ride by on my bike, they are smiling, I see them out in the water, they are smiling." He was really blown away by this. This local crew in Bali is having fun just about all the time. It's why they are so fun to surf with,and so fun to film with. It looks like he is smiling to me here in this frame. He might be gritting his teeth, but chances are, with Bleronk, he's smiling.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

monster of the deep pt 3

And here is how the squid monster turned out. Sablar has the best nickname ever: Bond, as in James Bond. Along with proudly writing his name, he wanted to add the obligatory "tits, I love tits, I love big boobs, etc" that most of these young guys have been writing all over their boards. He asked me to help him with the spelling of all this, and that is what the back of the postcard was for that he used for reference. (the blue and pink writing is not mine)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

monster of the deep pt 2

We had taken a day trip, and it ended up being a lot flatter than we expected. I gave the local guys my paint markers, and they covered their boards pretty quick. I guess they liked the squid, because a few of them started drawing their own tentacled monsters. They kept looking back to my housing for reference. This is Sablar drawing here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

monster of the deep

This is my water housing for my 16mm Bolex. Minus the handles. My cousin Rob welded a scope on this side to help me line up shots since I can't see through the viewfinder when shooting in the water. This really helped a lot. Had some fun with some paint markers and drew a pink squid wrapping around the housing.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


The long 5 minute trailer for the film is nearing completion, and so is the first run of film posters. Chicago artist Matthew Ginsberg is doing a silk screen print run of 50 posters based on my design above. The idea of the art here is civilization and the earth itself in the form of a breaking wave. Streets, fields, construction cranes, people, ferris wheels, volcanoes, everything, throwing over into a barrel.

Last night a few of us in the revolving lineup of friends that is Turbofire to Zenith recorded percussion for the trailer finale. Mike Regan's booming drums sounded huge. Jason Lukas shot photos and got on the bass. We're recording on the second floor of a barn where Mike and his friend Stephan have a recording/jam space set up. Fittingly, they call it The Barn. It's an awesome space to create music, and it's a big sounding room.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


My Bolex Rx-5 from 1967. Wind it up and go, no batteries or electronics. It works like a wind up clock. This camera has survived getting half filled with saltwater, and it is still going strong. WD-40 and some other corrosion blocking oil saved it.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Bleronk on this one. This was the last wave I shot of this session. Light rain, ominous skies, and fairly glassy. While Bleronk and crew kept getting slotted, I kept getting pounded to the shallow sand bar/reef bottom by these little barrels. Pretty much after every good set the current would drag me away, I'd have to swim in, then work my way back over to Diah and the boys. Diah, a young gal from Seminyak surfs out here, and this was her first time trying it at really low tide.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Click on the image to enlarge + right click + save, if you'd like this as a wallpaper. Its 1650 pixels wide.

Dylan Amar, local surfer from Padma, Bali. Bolex Rx-5 Super 16mm film frame sequence. Honestly, no correlation here other than Dylan getting barreled, and the look on his face there as he paddles back....but this sequence reminded me of something I saw scribbled on a guard rail in Hawaii a few years ago: under the lip and smokin the crip.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


This is Dylan Amar, from Padma, Bali. I filmed a lot with Dylan last year, usually while filming with Tonyo and Bleronk, and Blacky, and a bunch of their other friends. They're usually all surfing together. This was such a fun session to be in the water. It was absolutely perfect. The water was so clear this day, diving under the waves with my eyes looked so amazing with the sun shining through. And feeling the power of the wave while diving under, just escaping the lip coming down. Feeling the the entire ocean around me move through. As I would dive under I could feel all the momentum of the water leading up towards the lip of the wave, pitching out into a barrel. To be right there, and to become part of that movement, eyes wide open in such clear water, it was one of the best experiences I've had in the ocean. Its hard to put this into words really. It feels supernatural almost.