Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

Mike Black: Mining the Stoke

May 29, 2012

Back in 2006, tired of my corporate career and carpeted cubicle, I decided to pursue a more enjoyable means of earning a living. I found myself at Cheka-Looka Surf Shop…scraping the wax off rental boards, trying to convince the guys I was slightly more than a kook. After a brief hazing from Jeff and Bubba, I was told I had the job…under one condition…I needed to go home that night and watch the greatest surf movie of all time: Invasion From Planet C.

Since then, we’ve shown the film at numerous surf movie nights and birthday parties. If you haven’t seen Invasion From Planet C, you need to… but first read our interview with the brainchild behind it, Mike Black.

Mike Black: Surfer, Interplanetary traveler, Math teacher

How long have you been surfing?
25 years.

Any favorite surf spots?
any clean empty point.

Ever surfed in the Pacific Northwest?
I have had the pleasure. My buddy lived in Cannon Beach. We scored some beautiful little peelers in some amazing settings around there.

How did the Bing Feral Pig, come to be?
I have ridden and owned many pigs in my life. Reynolds Yater, Hap Jacobs, and Dale Velzy are a few of the craftsmen that come to mind when I reflect on who shaped some of them. I run Surf-A-Pig, a website devoted to pig surfboards. I constantly receive many emails from all around the world that contain stories and photos of people making and riding pig surfboards.

I love the way a pig rides. In the beginning of 2009 I sold my quiver of “nose rider” logs in an effort to fund a new quiver of pigs. I wanted to see what was currently being made in the swine family. With the proceeds from this sell I went straight to Matt. At the time, I didn’t know that much about pigs, but I knew Matt was the go to guy. Matt shaped me a beautiful board that treated me well. So well, I will not sell it. Ever. Although this BING Matt shaped me was an AMAZING board, I started poking around to see who else was doing what.

Enter August 2011. I have been exclusively riding pig boards for over 3 years. I approach Matt again. I ask him if we can put some kind of collaboration together. I feel like I have significant experiences that might be able to contribute to designing the ideal pig board, I feel like he has the skill and the foundation to execute what I am thinking about. I bring over many pigs from my herd. I tell him what experiences I had on the boards. Additionally I show him video and photos of how the boards preformed and in what conditions the preformed in. He takes it all in. We pass some numbers back and forth, and some ideas for the aesthetic of the finish.

Matt gets after it. He shapes it. I am there and observe it all. I am so stoked and full of anticipation.

Finally the board is finished. When I go to grab it from the shop… as soon as my hands touch it, I know it is perfectly balanced. Sometimes you know a board is perfect just by feeling the rail. This was that. I get it in the water. My first session was in thigh high pier dumpers. Even in these meager conditions, I knew this board was AMAZING. The next morning I get it on some clean waves. Immediately I felt this board was the single best board I had ever rode. By my third session I was beside myself with the board’s functionality. This is the one board quiver. Matt is a magician.

How long have you been teaching, and what turned you on to that profession?
I’ve been teaching for 15 years. I never thought “when I grow up, I want to be a teacher!” Rather, after I received my M.A. in Pure Math from UCSB, I suffered a head injury while surfing some AMAZING glassy walls at Rincon. Simultaneously during this time of life…the time right after I graduated, as I was trying to find out what to do with my theoretical math degree, I was working at Clyde Beatty’s glass shop in Santa Barbara. The head injury made me realize life is short, and I should do more than “huff resin”. I heard Long Beach was hiring un credentialed teachers, I got a job with them, and have since learned teaching is my calling.

Can you please define the quadratic formula?
The quadratic formula is a collection of symbols humans use to model objects subject to gravity.

How did you meet your partner in Stoke Films, David Potter?
I befriended his brother in college. His brother was friends with my friends neighbors.

When did you first get involved with film?
David Potter had me acting in some of his adult humor projects. From being around David, I started to think about stories and writing. David is an amazing artist, a technical wizard.

In your interview with Liquid Salt, you mentioned a “Bollywood-style motorcycle bounty hunter surf story project”…anything come of that?
Not yet. We have some amazing scripts floating around. David and I are great friends and enjoy working with each other, but both of us are more focused on other projects right now.
The logistics of filming , editing, marketing, and distributing your own product are painful to say the least. I am very proud we pulled off the projects we have, and I hope to have more collaborative work with David in the future.

Any favorite surf flicks?
You know , I really don’t watch surf flicks. I really enjoy watching empty waves break. I swear if someone made a flick full of empty point surf from all around the planet, that shit would be on all the time. Like a video of logs burning.

I understand you’re currently working on a sequel to Invasion From Planet C
Ok, I made that up…but now the seed has been planted. ;) What’s on the schedule for you and/or Stoke Films in 2012?
Currently David and I are laying low. David has a super crazy project that I acted in being finished. Hopefully that will be out soon. We’ll see!

Mike was nice enough to send us over a few copies of Invasion From Planet C. You can pick one up for yourself, here. When Gnar-Gnars not in the water or manning the classroom, he maintains a pretty killer blog…dedicated to boards with meat & D-fins. Check out Surf a Pig.

Blast it!
– Shawn

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  • Reply Seth May 29, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Yes!! Nice one Shawn

  • Reply Abigail May 30, 2012 at 2:37 am

    Lovely. Nice interview, fascinating dude.

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