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Reviews, Surf, Surf Reviews

Film Review: Singlefin Yellow

August 23, 2013

Every surfboard has a story. I bought my first surfboard for $10 from a teenager on my block who my friends and I thought was the second coming of Kelly Slater, but more than likely he was a punk kid who dealt shit weed to middle schoolers. Anyway, the board was twelve inches thick, every neon color the 80s SoCal trend could conjure and sank even before it got into the water, but I cherished the thing. I rode it every weekend. Around thirteen or fourteen years old, I pestered my mom into buying me a new 5’8” …Lost and I never looked back.

After watching Singlefin Yellow by Jason Baffa I began to wonder who owned that $10 board before my gnarly neighbor. Secondly, what became of it after it was so quickly discarded? Is it in pieces scattered amongst garbage in a landfill or is it propped up in the “used” section of Dockside Surf Shop (my favorite surf shop growing up) awaiting another novice? Though I will never be able to answer these questions about my old friend, watching Baffa’s 2005 film allows me some closure by seeing the life of a Tyler made 9’6” yellow single fin as it passes beneath the feet of six surfers and then into the wild.


Shot in 16mm film, Singlefin Yellow is sincere in its goal to follow the life and journey of a surfboard that was shaped in El Segundo, CA. The film shows a 1960s style yellow single fin longboard as it jet sets across the world and acquires stoke. Each surfer personally, and with warmth, narrates his or her portion of the film giving the entire movie an intimate feel. Singlefin Yellow gives insight to the connection between surfers but more importantly illustrates how surfboards are necessary conduits between riders.

Accepting the chain letter of dings and wax, each surfer in Singlefin Yellow slightly alters the board by surfing a certain break, trimming a certain way, or, like Bonga Perkins, thrashing the poor thing at the North Shore. Passed on, the longboard gives the next rider a sense of authenticity and soul that acts as a tie to the previous riders, the previous countries and the previous waves. None of us can deny that surfing is a sport of emotional connections and that these emotional connections change the feel of our tool – the surfboard. Changing hands over time the aura, for lack of a better word, of these boards shifts in small, minute ways. Singlefin Yellow is a 110-minute snapshot of this process.


Lastly, I want to stress how much these simple planks of foam and fiberglass are similar to tools with which we create and Singlefin Yellow makes this apparent. Many will liken surfboards to art, but beneath the pretty, glassy exterior they are utensils and objects – tools with which we work. Even the surfing vernacular reflects our subconscious utilitarian perspective of the surfboard: we carve a wave and we trim a wave. Therefore, working with these tools in our salty mitts makes us the craftsman, the artisan working in conjunction with the surfboard. These tools are in our presence the very moment we are in the act of an extremely human process – creation. Later, as workers do, we exchange these tools; pass them amongst ourselves possibly because we need a new tool that will suit our current project. But, undoubtedly, impressions of ourselves remain with our past chisels and then are passed along to a new surfsmith – and this process, my friends, is the art and the beauty.

– Patrick

Pick up your own copy of Singlefin: Yellow

Film, Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

What’s What: Eric Hires

July 4, 2012

I contacted Eric for an interview, after running across his short film; What’s What. I cruised over to his Vimeo page, and realized that I’d seen his work before. California Haze, and Saturday San O are both 9 Plus mini-films, with a unique feel and original soundtracks. What’s What shares the same qualities.

Get to know Eric in our interview below…and check back later this week for What’s What: Part Deux…our follow up interview with Eric’s partner in creative crime; Drew Miller.

When and where did you learn to surf?
I dabbled with surfing in high school, but grew up on the Gulf coast of Florida where the waves are super inconsistent. I really started surfing when I moved to Saint Augustine to go to Flagler College in 2004. I think I surfed every day my first semester.

What was your first board?
A crappy 6’2 thruster I bought for $100.

You’re a Florida boy…have you ever ventured up to the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest?
Yes. I actually lived in Bend, Oregon for a few months at the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012. I was doing a lot of rock climbing up there at Smith Rock but made it out to the Oregon coast for some waves at Cape Lookout and Pacific City. This was in February and it was like 10 feet at 15 seconds. There was no one in the water at Cape Lookout and just my girlfriend on the beach. It was pretty sketchy being the only one out in giant surf at a place I’d never been. Not to mention the water was effing cold! I caught two waves and the current ripped me way down the beach, but it was pretty fun. Props to y’all that surf in that cold water year round.

What’s unique about surfing in Florida?
The waves are pretty hit or miss here, but you hardly ever have to wear rubber or deal with crowds. It is rarely agro in Saint Augustine and you know almost everyone in the line up. I spent a year and a half in San Diego and decided I like surfing in Florida WAY better. The vibe is super mellow.

When did you first get involved with film?
My senior year at Flagler College I started assisting my good friend Dustin Miller on shoots. Dustin shot and edited “Picaresque” and recently worked with Dane Reynolds to make “Thrills, Spills, and What Not”. He taught me everything I know (I studied Business in college) and gave me my first big break when he asked me to go Costa Rica to shoot water for “Picaresque”.

How did you and Drew meet, and start working together?
Drew and I met in school when we played on the same intramural soccer team (Flagler College intramural soccer champions 2008!). He interned for Dustin and I when he was a senior but then I moved out west for a couple years. Since I’ve been back this year we’ve just been hangin’ and making fun surf edits when we have nothing else going on.

Your most recent project is What’s What. Can you tell us a bit about it?
We had shot with Chad and Justin a couple weeks before when the waves were pretty good and made a short called “No Swimming or Surfing”. Justin lives and hour north in Jacksonville and Chad an hour south in Daytona, but they are dredging sand at Saint Augustine Beach and it has been making the waves really fun here so the dudes have been coming to town to surf and hang.

It was a Wednesday afternoon and they were both coming in town and the waves were pretty fun. I wanted to go surfing and have a bro sesh, but Drew suggested we shoot. So we did and scored some rad little moments.

That session made Justin and I late for the Wilco show that night, but it was worth it.

Outside of film & surfing, what are your other interests?
Climbing rocks. Traveling. Riding bikes. Music. Throwing horseshoes in the yard. Sandlot baseball. Building shit.

What’s on the menu for each of you in 2012?
I got to go on a trip to Chile with Dustin to shoot water for Craig Anderson’s new film at the end of 2011. We shot all super 16mm film, which is the best. It looks like I may go on a couple more trips for that film this year.

I also just shot my friends wedding on 16mm, so hoping to do some more of that to pay the bills. I’d love to keep making stuff with Drew and get paid for it…that’d be nice! How about a Stoke Harvester film? We’ve got ideas.

You can enjoy more of Eric’s work on his Vimeo Page. Eric & Drew are set to direct Stoke Harvester’s first feature film. In regards to the script…we’ve decided to go with Francis Ford Coppola. There was original talk of working with Woody Allen…but Francis promised we can use the logs from Apocalypse Now.

…Well that, and Eric & Drew love the smell of napalm in the morning.


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