Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

Jeremy Rumas: Hangs Upon Nothing

May 7, 2012

I was going to write an intro about how I came across Hangs Upon Nothing, but Instead I think I’ll just say a few words, and then jump into the interview.

16mm, original soundtrack, talented artist, new blood…Jeremy Rumas.

Tell us about Hangs Upon Nothing.
My original idea for this was just to make a film that conveys what surfing feels like to me.  And by this I mean the entire experience of being a surfer, and traveling as a surfer.  The people you meet, the places you see, the things you learn by heading out into the water, or heading off to a far corner of the world and experiencing what life is like there.  And also the amazing interaction you get to have with the ocean, and with the earth.  I really feel that surfing is one of the purest experiences one can have on this planet.  You are right there feeling the earth’s energy all around you, you’re a part of it.  It’s so amazing, and I just wanted to try to convey this in a film.

What is your relationship with Mikala? How did you meet, etc…
I met Mikala on a beach on Christmas Island, Kiribati.  I was returning there to visit Chuck Corbett and film more with him, and Mikala and his brother Daniel came down there at the same time, along with Michael Kew, Chris Burkhard, Josh Mulcoy, and Nate Tyler.  I had my Bolex with me and I went up and introduced myself to Mikala.  I wasn’t sure who he was at first, though I knew of his name and had seen him in surf mags before.  I was able to show all these guys some footage from my project at that point, and Mikala and Daniel just gave me an open invite to come film with them.  From that point on they just became a part of the film, a really big part of it.

At first I had this idea that there wouldn’t be any pro surfers in this film.  I was more interested in making something simply about surfing, without a commercial aspect.  After meeting these guys and seeing how hard they worked at their craft, how dedicated they were, and also just how they were all really approachable and down to earth, I completely changed my mindset on this.  I realized that this film should be about anyone who enjoys riding waves, whether it’s just for fun, for a job, or both.

This chance meeting with Mikala and Daniel was really the luckiest moment for me in regard to making this film.  Bringing them onto the project really made it possible for me to make the film I wanted to make.  I had no experience in surf filmmaking, nothing to show expect a bit of footage, and to my surprise Mikala said he thought that might actually be a good thing.  They were excited about my vision, and stoked about shooting this with 16mm film.

I consider both Mikala and Daniel, and also younger brother Keoni good friends now.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Northwest Indiana in a pretty simple American town.  Just outside of Chicago, pretty close to Lake Michigan.

When did you start surfing?
When I was 24.  The first place I ever rode a wave standing up on a board was in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  There was this family there at the beach in a Winnebago.  They had two longboards, and the father Marty let me try one of their boards out.  We paddled out together and caught a few shin high glassy peelers in really cold water. It felt pretty natural to me since I grew up skateboarding and snowboarding.  I remember my first wave, I felt like I was flying, and it was literally only shin high, but it still blew my mind.  A few weeks later I bought a longboard and was on my way to Samoa.  That’s where I really learned to surf.

Browsing your work, it’s obvious that you are creative in a lot of different fields..When did you first get involved with film?
The first time I touched motion picture film was when I was nineteen at Columbia College in Chicago.  That was 13 years ago.  I took one film-making class there where we made short movies with 16mm Bolexes.  After that I didn’t do too much with actual film-making until starting on Hangs Upon Nothing.

Tell us a little bit about your creative process.
I get random ideas for projects all the time.  I usually try to jot them down in my sketchbook or record them, and if I don’t I’ll often forget what the idea was.  This is everything from story ideas, drawing ideas, to song ideas.  For concepts I really like, I just spend free time further developing them.  Hangs Upon Nothing is the furthest I’ve yet taken any of my own personal art projects.  I’ve spent a lot of time working as a commercial artist, animator, and concept designer, working on projects for other people or companies.  When you spend a lot of time using your creativity towards making a living working on others’ projects, it can be challenging to find the time to get your own personal projects done.

So it’s been really fulfilling for me to work on this project, and to see it finally coming together.  And it’s been really cool just releasing these trailers and some posters and art and seeing peoples’ reactions to it all.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
From everything I see, everything I experience, and everything I think is beautiful or interesting in some way.  It can be the way someone walks, the mannerisms someone has while talking, or maybe the positive outlook on life that a random stranger has.  I notice this stuff, and I take notes on it, and try to incorporate it into my art or stories somehow.  If I’m shooting with a camera, I look for stuff like this.

I’m also inspired by waves, surfing, friends who have gone after their dreams, people and animals who are just stoked on life, Star Wars(circa 1977-1980), American Graffiti, Akira(the Japanese comic), and music that takes me somewhere else.

One of the bands listed on the H.U.N Soundtrack is Turbofire to Zenith, can you tell us a little about that?
Turbofire to Zenith is me and a revolving group of friends(Mike Regan, Garrett Schultz, George Boyas, and Javier Guzman) writing and recording the original score for the film.  Most of it we’re recording on the second floor of this big garage/barn that’s sort of just where country starts in NW Indiana.  At this point we are just a studio band for this film.  I’m really hoping we can tour with the film playing live, or at least do some shows in the midwest where we perform the sountrack live.  That’s been my vision all along for this project.  At the least though, the soundtrack is going to be original.

The name comes from a mixture of classic Chevrolet Turbo-fire engines, and some sci-fi concepts of gals riding giant creatures hurtling through space, sort of how Atreyu rides the Luck Dragon in The Neverending Story.

Any favorite surf flicks?
Morning of the Earth, The Endless Summer, and The September Sessions.  One recent film I saw that I really liked is Splinters.  I haven’t watched too many surf films actually.  I made it a point to avoid them while shooting this, just to try and keep a bit of a fresh perspective on it all.  Inevitably if I see something I really like, it tends to influence me creatively, so it was more out of fear of copying someone too much that I tried to avoid watching them.  The ones I did see were when other surfers brought them around to show.  I’ve been watching a lot more short surf films online recently though.  I’ve had a plan that when I finish this project I’d like to go back and watch a lot of surf films spanning the decades that they’ve been made.

What’s on the menu for 2012?
Freelance drawing work, and in my free time editing and making music for Hangs Upon Nothing.  I’m also working towards releasing some more silkscreened posters related to the film.  Hoping to have the edit and music wrapped up later in 2012, and then send the film around to fests and tour it.

This is the beginning of something beautiful. 

Hangs Upon Nothing – Website
Hangs Upon Nothing – Facebook
Jeremy Rumas

Photo credits:
1. J. Rumas
2. J. Rumas
3. S. Goldsbury


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