Filmmaker Feature: Nick Chalmers

Nick Chalmers is an Australian artist/media maker/bodysurfer we met on our last trip to Oz. Full of energy and creativity, he made a lasting impression. So when his friends at Rhythm sent over an interesting little clip he did starring Harrison Roach and Dane Peterson, we got all curious and wondered, “what is this Nick Chalmers guy all about?” below are some answers..

Tell us how you got into surfing and making art.

I think I started surfing when I was around 6 years old. Not full on every day or weekend, just once every now and then. It wasn’t till I was about 12 that I really took a liking towards it. Without sounding all hippy, the ocean really gives me grounding and makes me feel comfortable no matter where I am in the world. I always like having the ocean near by even if it’s just for some fresh air or a swim just to get my blood pumping and have that real ”clean” feeling.

As for my art I started like most kids do with crayons and colour pencils drawing and scribbling colours, doing my best to stay in the lines. Unfortunately I wasn’t part of the Nintendo/Playstation Club so I’d get severely bored on school holidays. My entertainment ended up being drawing and painting so I guess it was a progression from there. I’ve always enjoyed the process of creating though, no matter what medium.

Photo: Angus McDiarmid / http://angusmcdiarmid.com

What gets you excited?

First thing that comes to mind when I think “excitement” is definitely traveling. I like going places I’ve never been before that are ‘in my backyard’ so to speak, whether its going to a beach I’ve never been to or going for a rainforest walk I’ve never seen. Then there’s the other extreme which is sitting in a plane seat watching the hostess run through the safety demonstration and just having that feeling of knowing that you are going to a country you’ve never been to and not know what’s in store for the days to come.

Photo: Matt Rabbidge / http://www.greaterthen.tumblr.com

You’re known for garnering a speedo while bodysurfing. What is the purpose behind this choice of apparel?

Hah! I guess I enjoy the speedo just because I feel less restricted, not that boardshorts really restrict you that badly when they’re above the knee but I just like the feeling of swimming in the ocean and feeling it cover your whole body. I really don’t know why I wear them though haha, I think they’re more comfortable than trunks and just more practical – even if some people get freaked out by it.

When I was in Noosa, I saw your artwork with unique price tags on each piece. One read “Price-2 packs of cigarettes, an egg and sausage sandwich, and a candy bar to be delivered to our hotel room by 9 am tomorrow morning”. Have such prices worked? Did you get anybody to deliver such goods?

You must have been hazed that night…some of the sales were “1x Carton of Coopers Green”, “3x Pizzas”, “1x Bottle of Absolute Vodka, 1x Lime and 2x bottles of soda water” “5x Cream cheese bagels with avocado and 5x coffees”…or something like that. Haha

I don’t think I’ve sold an artwork in exchange for anything besides an ‘artwork swap’ or cash before, but the novelty prices haven’t worked yet, unfortunately. At the Noosa exhibition I guess people didn’t like my work enough to want to go order pizzas and bring them to the apartment I was staying in, or just didn’t like the art. I wasn’t really phased if I sold the work or not though, I’d just had an awesome week and thought why not have a little party to finish it off and make people think and giggle.

How is the NSW, Australian surf scene unique from other parts of the world?

That’s a tough one. 10 years ago there was no one really riding alaias, quads, logs, SUPS, mats. The majority of surfers were just riding conventional thrusters, with the odd fish or experimental board in the line up. Nowadays there’s every form of wave riding in the water and it’s more accepted than it used to be even 5 years ago. I’m not sure how unique NSW or Australia is compared to other parts of the world but there is definitely a lot of people who are accepting of the whole “sub-culture” if you could call it, who aren’t your typical thruster riding, World Tour following surfers.

How did you get into making video clips? What do you like about the medium of expression?

I first started making surf clips when I was about 12 years old. I used footage of my friends and I surfing that we or our mums had filmed of us. I literally used to record the waves I wanted to use onto a VHS tape then once that was done I’d set up the camera in front of the TV and would play Blink 182 on the stereo and film the TV screen. Once that was done I’d record the final edit back onto VHS and it was done. For titles I’d use Microsoft Word and would film them straight off the computer. The whole process was unintentionally 100% lo-fi. I like video as a medium just because it’s moving picture and once you add audio as another element it can become a very emotive medium opposed to a picture. Movie is just another way I like to document my life and to communicate my ideas and interests to an audience I guess. It’s also just another creative outlet I enjoy and a challenge trying to learn Final Cut.

Screen grab from my first surf movie I called GROM ATTACK

If you could go back in time and tell yourself 3 things when you were 13 what would you say?

I would have told myself:
1. Befriend a few computer savvy people.
2. Pay the computer savvy people to build a website where people can communicate and upload photos (and take full ownership rights)
3. Invest in some property and travel the world all whilst living off a social website by the name of ‘Facebook’.

For more of Nick’s work, check out his website www.nicholaschalmers.com