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Film, Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

What’s What: Drew Miller

July 6, 2012

Drew Miller is a 24 year old filmmaker, currently living in the Sunshine State. His most recent work is ‘What’s What’ (featured above). I was turned on to Drew’s work when I approached his collaborator, Eric Hires, for an interview. You can check out our interview with Eric here, and watch me pick Drew’s brain below.

When and where did you learn to surf?
I grew up in central Florida, in the small citrus town of Lake Wales. I made trips with neighborhood friends to Ft. Pierce Florida and surfed the North Jetty. The North Jetty is a great all around wave. In 2007 I moved to St. Augustine, and released my inner log demon.

What was your first board?
My first board was a 70’s style single fin, that I found in a friend’s basement. That kind of set the tone for the rest of my surfing career. I still love riding boards like that.

You’re a Florida boy…have you ever ventured up to the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest?
Ocean Beach in SF is as far North as I’ve surfed on the west coast. I paddled out in my 3.2 and froze my butt off….but the waves were great!

What’s unique about surfing in Florida?
The people. I rarely paddle out and encounter negativity. The water stays warm most of the year. We may not have the best waves in the world, but we spend a lot of time in the water.

When did you first get involved with film?
I’ve been shooting video since middle school. Its always been a passion of mine. I went to Flagler College in St. Augustine Florida, and studied Production. That’s when I started making movies that really got me excited. I was hooked from the beginning, and love it.

What’s it like working with Eric?
Eric is a man’s man. When I grow up I want to be more like him. He’s always down to get’r done.

Yeah I just said that…Because its true!

Tell us about working with Justin Quintal and Chad Doyle, on What’s What.
Justin is a freak. The waves were so crappy and he just went nuts. We’ve been collaborating on surfing shorts a lot lately and we both agree that we just want to document these sessions and create rad stuff.  Chad Doyle is my favorite surfer. He’s such a rad dude, and has one of the best styles on the east coast. Chad and his goony compadres are the guys behind the Peninsula Holding Company. They make really unique boards in Daytona Beach, FL. They’re some of the first guys I started shooting with, after moving to St. Augustine in 2007.

Outside of film & surfing, what are your other interests?
I really like watching movies. I usually watch at least one movie a day. Some might say I’m wasting my time, but I say I’m doing research.  I love thrifting and finding worthless treasures with my girlfriend, Lisa. That being said…surfing and video are pretty central to who I am. Hanging with Dustin Miller and Eric is always inspiring. We make a rad team.

What’s are your plans for 2012?
I just want to create. There are so many talented people in Florida, and I think video is a great platform for showing the world what the Florida kids are up to. Shooting is just too damn fun to stop.

Drew has over 50 short films on his Vimeo page. Get your ass over there, and check them out!  Hopefully we can get the Flagler Lions up to Washington sometime soon, to shoot some cold Northwest stoke. ;)

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.


Film, Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

Steve Cleveland: A Paradigm Shift

June 15, 2012

I was first turned on to Steve’s work about three years ago, when I picked up a copy of Fresh Fruit for Rotten Vegetables. Recently, he worked his way back in the tube with A Paradigm Shift.  APS has a killer soundtrack and includes some of my favorite surfers; Kassia Meador, Alex Knost, CJ Nelson, Dane Peterson, Tyler Warren, Chris Del Moro…and more. Here’s our interview with the man behind the film.

Where did you grow up, and when did you start surfing?
I was born in Redondo Beach Ca. That’s the area where I had my first experiences with the ocean. I was like a moth to a flame; I was just drawn to the ocean. I remember my aunt would take me to the Palos Verdes cove when I was 4 yrs. Old, and I’d wade in the tide pools. My family moved to the Big Island of Hawaii when I was 7 and that’s where I started riding waves…body surfing and belly boarding. We moved back to the mainland (Redondo) when I was 11 or 12. That’s when I got my first surfboard; an old Velzy/Jacobs 9’3″ balsa, for $20. That must of been around 1963 or 64.

When did you first get involved with film?
I got involved with filming in the early 70s when I was taking photography at Maui Community College. That was my foundation. I started my first surf movie in 1989. It was called On Safari to Stay, and featured a 13 yr. old Joel Tudor, Wingnut, Donald Takayama and Skip Fry. I made it with my good friends Chris Ahrens and Greg Weaver. Spider Wills was a consultant.

What was it like working with Greg Weaver and Spider Wills?
That was a kick in the arse mate!!!!!!!!! So many stories that I can’t tell ya all… but when I’m with Joel and Wingnut, we always relive a couple of the episodes. The stories keep gettin better and better. Weavers da bomb mate, and Spiders a total legend. I learned a lot from Greg and spider! I’m very appreciative of that experience


Your most recent project is A Paradigm Shift, can you tell us about that?
Well, A Paradigm Shift is a relatively fast paced, tightly edited movie with a bitchen soundtrack. It’s a bunch of great surfers in I guess what you’d call “the alternative” vein of surfing. Ya know…great surfers riding all types of boards, in all types of waves. We shot it in Australia, Hawaii, Mexico, Micronesia, and California. I worked on it for a little over 2 years and am stoked on how it turned out!

How do you go about picking the surfers for your films?
I have been very fortunate in that regard! The surfers in my films are people that I’ve met over the years… friends; guys and gals that I get along with and work well with. It’s not that I pick them, really…because they all can pretty much work with any of the alternative surf filmmakers out there. My crew of surfers is a pretty eclectic group. They are relationships that I have developed organically over time. It’s a symbiotic thing! I feel lucky and blessed to get to work with the “A” list surfers in our longboard/alternative (longboards,fish,hulls, eggs, retros, alaia’s ect.) genre. For what I do, it’s all about the surfers. You can have the best surf in the world to shoot, but if the talent level isn’t there then all ya end up with is a bunch of bitchen waves being ridden by so-so surfers. Nobody really wants to watch a film like that, do they?

Any favorite surf flicks?
Yeah, I really liked Ozzie Wright’s 156 tricks. It changed the way I looked at what I was doing at the time. CJ Nelson turned me on to it. In the beginning I was also influenced by Bud and Bruce brown’s films. Mac/Freemans films are also always a good watch… many others too!

Any other filmmakers you would like to collaborate with?
I respect a lot of the film makers out there, but for now I prefer to do my own thing…. but if Steven Spielburg came calling I’d be all ears. ha ha

Any hope for a third Safari movie? :)
Funny you should ask, thinkin about it…. Looking for funding… anyone out there want to be an “executive producer?” Call me, well see!!!!!!!!!

What’s next for Steve Cleveland?
Like I just said, thinking about going back to my roots. A story driven movie? Ya never know…just doing my own thing, with a lot o help from my friends!

Check back in a few weeks for Renick’s forthcoming review of A Paradigm Shift. You can connect more with Steve over at SurfCraft Media’s Official site.


Film, Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

Elisa Bates: Women + Waves + NYC

June 1, 2012

About a month ago, my friend Quash shared a Vimeo link on Facebook that caught my attention. I watched the trailer above, and made contact with it’s creator…Elisa Bates. Elisa is an artist, based out of Brooklyn…with an itch for surfing Rockaway Beach.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Pelham, New York, which is a suburban town in Westchester County about 30 minutes north of mid-town Manhattan.

When did you start surfing?
Truth be told, I’ve been “starting” to surf for the past several years but am still very much a beginner. My husband, who’s been surfing his whole life, has tried to teach me here and there and what I learned is that while he’s a really good surfer, he may not be the best teacher (he agrees). However, I did take a proper surf lesson in Montauk, NY last summer, which was a game changer for me. I finally felt what it’s like to be in control of the board, I stood a few times and now I’m looking forward to getting back in the water.

Your current project is AWAY…can you tell us a bit about it?
It’s a short documentary film that looks at the subculture lifestyle of New York City surfing through the lens of three women who surf at Rockaway Beach, Queens. In the past few years, there has been somewhat of an explosion in the popularity of surfing in NYC. What caught my attention and what drove the idea behind the film was how many more women there were surfing and excelling in this male-dominated sport at Rockaway Beach, an unexpected, moderately difficult, inconsistent break inside NYC. As a female living in NYC, married to someone who’s been surfing at Rockaway since the mid 90’s, I understand the level of commitment necessary to be a serious NYC surfer and also the difficulty and frustration. There were a few documentaries and lots of press coverage that focus on the men who surf there, but I couldn’t find much about local NYC female surfers. I think what I’ve ended up with is a film that takes a personal look at these three women who collectively represent an archetype of what it is to be a female NYC surfer. These women are amazing.

How do you know the 3 women featured in the film?
I didn’t know the women at all before making the film. One of them, Katrina, is actually an old friend of my husband’s who he recently re-connected with and found out she surfed at Rockaway. The other two, Mary and Jee Mee, I found through talking to people within the Rockaway community. I have to mention that everyone who I encountered during the whole process of making this film was so very kind, helpful, and accommodating. I can’t say enough great things about the Rockaway community as a whole.

When did you first get involved with film?
I come from a graphic design and art direction background, spending the bulk of my professional life working in the music and entertainment industry. This project is my first film.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Everywhere, really. Road trips, people on the subway, abstract art, the beach, the mountains, certain pieces in my wardrobe, airports, music, old books, good and bad typography, pop culture, my dog, blenders, campy films, my husband, tequila. From anywhere in my consciousness. I draw inspiration from living.

What’s on your playlist right now?
Lately, I’ve really been into a lot of 70’s and (early 80’s) rock like The Rolling Stones, The New York Dolls, The Who, The Clash, The Pretenders. And also, I’ll add in some Von Bondies, Queens of the Stone Age, Gories, Pixies, Morning After Girls, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

How many belly rubs has your dog received today?
So far today, he has received at least 15 or 16 belly rubs. Plus lots of compliments.

What’s on the menu for 2012?
Hopefully, a sort of design/film/motion bouillabaisse of work served in between some travel to new and old places. And also, I’ll be working on perfecting my riding technique…well, um after I learn to catch the waves.

You can stay updated on AWAY, at the film’s official website. Elisa also has some great work up on her Vimeo page.

– Shawn

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