A Look Inside The Surfilmfestibal 10

For the past 9 years, the Surfilm Festibal has grown to be the premiere surf film festival in the world. This year the gauntlet has been set even higher with new exhibits, features, and the best films from around the world. Included in the festival will be exhibition by Nick Waplington and his book Surf Riot, which documents the chaos that ensued after two aircrafts collided and dropped from the sky in Huntington Beach during the OP Surf Pro in 1986. With only one roll of film to document the event, Nick captured sunburned teens running wild in a spontaneous eruption of violence.

Also included in this years festival is the Extended Vision, with master classes from flimakers such as Jack McCoy, Keith Malloy, Kepa Acero and Igor Bellido, promoting the local production, show up and coming, amateur film makers, students, how to work with alternative technical and narrative resources. The aim is to facilitate the access to new filming tools, and film distribution schemes. as well as enrich traditional surf narration with elements from classic cinema.

In this exclusive sneak peak of the 2012 Surfilm Festibal, we have an interview with the film festival’s head man, Sancho Rodriguez, as well as some images from Kepa Acero and a bit of insight into Igor Bellido’s film about rising star, Gabriel Medina.


How did the surf film festival come about? Who was involved in getting it off the ground and what did it take to get it going?

I had the idea of doing it while working at Loreak Mendian, a little local clothing company at the time. I was coming from working at La Fabrica (lafabrica.es), the leading culture management company in Spain which does PHotoespaña.es, one the most solid photography festivals in the world, Matador magazine which is an amazing culture annual volume, and many other projects. I mixed my lifelong passion for surfing with my passion for culture, artists and quality projects. The first edition, Xabi Zirikiain and Blami took care of the art direction, Iñaki Bandres “Chico” was invited to the team, as well as Felipe Apalategui. It was an instant hit! We did the first screenings in the auditorium of the beatiful Aquarium of San Sebastian. 3 days of sold out screenings, we opened up with Crystal Voyager, the epic film from George Greenough, and finished it with Morning of the Earth. It was kind of a declaration of intentions, we believed there were good classic surf films, we understood there was a new era with titles such as Litmus from Kidman enlightning a dark near pasta and present full of surf porn, product placement videos from the major companies. But a transitional period  was happening, with people such as Thomas Campbell, the Malloys, changing the ways of telling stories. And we were ready to watch all those films, learn more, and claim the best of them in the context of a culture driven festival.

It seems as though surf film festivals are coming back in a big way. What do you think are the key ingredients to a successful film festival?

The key is creating attractive, sexy events for core surfers to attend. You´ve got to have exclusive, unseen films, you´ve got to be able to make people dream, through the titles, through the image, the vibe of the festival. You´ve got to be really involved in surfing, surf all the spots in a 400 km perimeter around your hometown and where you do your festival. This is not a joke, you can only really know about what´s going on in surfing if you surf extensively. And you´ve got to be a real good vibed ambassador of your event with the surf culture creating players. Filmmakers, photographers, are passionate people, who are shooting images while their buddies are scoring perfect barrels, people who invest their souls, their time and money just for the sake of telling a real surf story. Of course, they don´t earn millions, in fact they even loose money, health, girlfriends while they pursue their dream. You´ve to to simpathise, listen and try to give the best exposure, promotion to the work of the participant artists. This way, they keep counting with you to premiere films, and you can have fresh, cutting edge content to play with while programming.

Also, not wanting to get rich is a key starting point for all the festivals that have sprouted everywhere, no glitz and fame here!! Start small, build and understand your crowd, and have your own identity would be very important for all of them.

What have been some of the highlights for you?

I still remember the goose bumps when the last, inside the barrel section of Crystal Voyager, with Pink Floyd´s song sounding, started. The creation of Blue Velvet in 2004, a surf photography exhibition curated by Jamie Brisick, 35 photographers from around the world, no surfers surfing waves, only visions of our lifestyle, brilliant show, brilliant life long connection with Brisick,  another real and independent surf culture warrior. Showing Litmus outdoor, first time it was shown on a big screen, with a full mooon on the background, another big time connection with Kidman, who is the one that paved the path for alternative surfing with is seminal film, in a very controverted way by the then dominant voice of the mainstream surf industry. The outdoor euro premier of Thread by Patrick Trefz is also a definite highlight, as well as the 1000 people + euro premier of 180º SOuth with Chris Malloy and Jeff Johnson. Dozens of spanish, euro, world premieres are very special, having a very good film starting, with the lights off, people hooting… I really feel the excitement of sharing this feeling with fellow surfers. I´ve got a real tribal gathering positive vibe in those moments… Our festival has reunited all kinds of surfers from all kinds of beaches. We are really proud to see we´ve got the ok from the underground, the ok from really downtoearth surfers, surfers that never go to any kind of industry sponsored events. Our festival is a celebration of worldwide creativity, and of our local surf vibe. 

After nine years, what do you think accounts for your success? How has the festival evolved? And where do you see it going in the future?

We are still here because we´ve built our festival together with our public. We have massive support, sold out screenings, a very knowledgeable and demanding public makes us create new concepts, better programation every year.

Also, we are a bizarre event, a full on underground, independent event but with big corporate sponsors from outside the surfing world. We made it a point NOT to work with any of the major surf brands. We did not believe in the surf marketing that was the norm from the 90´s to now), we didn´t want no local marketing director to tell us which film I should program and which I should leave out. NOO! We had our vibe, we had our look, and I think now 10 years later it all makes sense. This said, we have a very good collaboration going on with all the big companies, we respect their work, we show some of their stuff, and they respect us for our independence. We´re very confortable working with Patagonia, we share values, and the bosses of the brand really dig what we do.

The festival started being only films in the first edition, then films + the amazing Blue VElvet, photography exhibition in 2004, also Clean Waves day, where we address Surf + environment issues came that same year. From then on, we´ve kept adding new layers, music festival, performances, surfboards, more exhibitions, crazy street photography installations… we are a festival about creativity, uncompromising creativity, we want to keep being this bizarre surf culture meeting point, where the last thing you can expect is boring, corporate product placement stunts, and yes, crazy, odd slices of surf culture. All executed with a perfect production of the event, but with a totally relaxed, NON VIP zone vibe… open!! Well, I hope in the future the usual hegemony of surf culture dictated by the big media of US and Australia takes us a little more seriously… : ) In fact, maybe its better, we keep it quiet this way and keep on indy, not swallowed by greed of big bucks of global surf world powers!!

How has the surf culture changed in San Sebastian?

When we started in 2003, for us surfing was allready nearly lost!!! Overcrowding, anxiety, aggresivity were the norm of the day. We had grown up surfing Mundaka lets say with 50 guys at low tide, by then it was 90. When I was a teenager we would have epic Gethary with 5 friends, crazy hossegor with 6 guys, etc.. etc.. But in 2003 you could still surf by yourself if you “down patrolled”, now you´ve got 30 guys at sunrise. It can sound weird, but even with this crowding problem, the vibes now in the water in La Zurriola (san sebastian local beach) are much nicer than 10 years ago. There´s a fresch crop of surfers who are super cool, they´ve lived with crowds all their lives, and now are cool with it. Ok, so surf population has sky rocketed. uumm let´s see, I also think, in connection with the festival, that there´s a sophisticated crew of “surf connaisseurs”, people who read, watch and participate in a very alternative vision of surfing, which I think can be epitomised by Korduroy.tv (a symbol for this kind of surfer). I definetely think there is a very particular vision of surfing in the basque country. For example, local little rippers are humble, we have very good role models in people such as Aritz Aramburu, Ibon AMatriain, Mikel Agote, Kepa and the Acero brothers, Odei Collazo, Indar Unanue, Mario Azurza, all pro surfers, but super humble, NO show off, and I´m really proud of this, and on how little groms are thanks to this. I don´t know if this is going to be controversial, but on the other side of the border, in France, I see a different vibe in groms. Once they got stickers on their boards and totally encouraged by their parents, they seem to lack respect, they seem to like being like competition killers, cocky. uumm none of this in our side. And this is nice… And concerning trends, in our country we follow on what´s going in the leading nations, places. In this sense, California is a big influence in the all board movement worldwide, and locally.

What is so special about this year in particular? Tell us a bit about the Extended Vision.

Ok, what is really special about this year is that we are alive as a festival!!! We were dropped by a very big sponsor in february!! Which is way to late to do so. But, thanks to the umcompromising support of Patagonia, Kutxa and Keler, our local beer, I think we have a more cutting edge program than ever. We have the support of the Cinema Department of the san sebastian townhall, which gives us big security. They are involved with all the major film festivals in the town… We have the killer exhibition SURF RIOT by Nick Waplington, one his breathtaking photos makes our official image for the year. Also, we premiere in Europe McCoy´s latest film, we do the world premiere of Itxasoa eta Lehorra, a killer short and exhibition  by Patrick Trefz that showcases Jim Denevan doing his thing in Mundaka sandbar, and many other things we can´t yet unveil…

One very very important trait is that ALL the best productions, most original ones, are totally INDEPENDENT! We don t have a single big title sponsored by major surf companies. Weird? Sign of times?

Extended Vision is for sure one of our highlights. Curated by Juan Azpitarte, it consists in masterclasses by Jack McCoy, Keith Malloy, Kepa Acero and Igor Bellido. Once we complete the masterclasses, we are shooting with IPhones a collaborative short about San Sebastian´s surf. 4 directors, 4 hours shoot, 4 hour editing, 1 single short adding the 4 parts. We connect the dots, 2 of the most reknown film makers, 2 local absolute DIY filmakers, the best of the world with the best of the basque country. Always aiming to break boundaries, to connect people, different surfing scenes and sensibilities.

For more in the festival, be sure to check out http://www.surfilmfestibal.com/2012/donostia-san-sebastian/surfilm-festibal.php?lang=en


One of the biggest additions to the festival is the Extended Vision. Below is what you might expect to find in one of the workshops as Igor Bellido shares some of his secrets for various effects he used when editing film featuring Gabriel Medina:

The composition of the video is divided into different parts. The special effects had to cut them in different video ram because the computer but I would burst with such moves processed simultaneously in a single After Effects composition.

The first effect is aproximately from the universe to the factory in Olatu Pukas tables. The effect is theoretically simple. Taking photographs from different satellite images of sites like Google Maps or Bing can be placed in layers in after effect, and once inside, compose each within the other, applying a mask to disguise fades exchange pictures. Then I applied an effect of clouds, lights and more.

The same technique was applied in the approach to Gabriel. This time the merge of 3 photos taken was considerably more difficult by changing the angle Gabriel and the slight movement that effects your body in each photo. The application of the mask had to be more accurate and had serious problems that KO left me several minutes or so until I found an acceptable result.

Once inside the eye, the camera starts moving by a different composition after effects. There was a mixture of 4 particle effects taken from the plug-in “particles” for after effects, fused them with different sizes and different colors, placed in a 3D world rather long, and a camera moving at full speed between them. Then comes the following composition, consisting of 3 layers with designs medina tables, which in turn are divided into more layers. I mean, for example the photo “The Game” is divided in 3 other parties, “The” with a diamond layer, the letters below are another layer and the triangle is the last layer. These 3 layers are differentiated in 3D space in the video but hardly appreciate. But when it passes the camera and focused view for example in “The”, you can see “GAME” slightly blurred.

The composition of the change of seasons from autumn to summer, is a fusion of image backgrounds of the different seasons. Together with a layer of Gabriel Medina rotating on its own axis.

The final merger did with the 3D effects of different layers of leaves in autumn, effect of particle effect snow in winter and spring rain particles. In the last applied a glow effect to give more power to the sun.

Within each time the lighting and color temperature was varied over the three-dimensional placement of multiple lights.

The motion effect that occurs when you stop getting a picture of gabriel air is done by recording and transfer of one of the frames to Photoshop PSD format. Once in photoshop the picture is divided into several layers and “truca the bottom” upgrading with the clone brush to turn the camera to form 3D in the environment, background does not repeat any of the previous layers. I also applied several strong special lighting effects and moving layers to the next installment of the video.

The recording of images of Johnny Cabianca were performed under minimal lighting with Nikon D5100 camera and 50mm lens with 1.4 / g both do not go over 1000 euros and HD video quality it produces is breathtaking. I do not know if I will get get the most out of my camera in the near future. That makes me think the poor performance that would drive cameras such as the “Red One” or “Red Scarlett,” the latter more economical (9000) except for the slow motion they have in 1080. Because the video to 4k, would have no processing computer that records 4K (and why I have the latest Mac pepinazo the chalice).

Returning to the video, here placed a green chroma prostudio360.es I bought in background and then apply the chroma key effect of after effects. The truth is that I complicate everything because I ate the effect parts of the image of Johnny and disappeared at times, having been filmed in such poor lighting. But the solvent playing some parameters. Then I introduced video recordings with transparent background of smoke and sparks, and finally applied light and color filters to give it a more surreal.

Here more of the same, so this time I had to earn a living to create a home with a chroma Lycra fabric that left me Laura’s workshop Pukas bikinis. The truth is that I was surprised how well I could work with the background of blue lycra later in after effects. Then I applied filters and lighting effects and color tracking a beam of light that can be found on page videocopilot.net that developed the master After Effects Andrew Kramer. A guru of the subject was working on the effects of the movie “Super 8” Steven Spielberg. I have followed many effects to make the video, creating them from scratch, and is quite hard even follow. Luckily I have studied many Adobe programs, 3d studio max, programming etc … in college. But I would have surrendered long ago. In the end, what Andrew said, his tools are a help, but then it really nice is to apply it in your ideas and combine to create amazing things.I was the second time I played in my life after effects after effects making of “The Nias Theory” and the truth is that I have opened up endless possibilities. While all this takes time and if you want to do something really good, you need a team of people. For now I will leave the effects for a while. I’ve spent enough hours on the computer.

Learn more about the Extended Vision at http://www.surfilmfestibal.com/2012/donostia-san-sebastian/noticia-surfilm-festibal.php?not_id=131&lang=en


And finally, we have some photos from another participant in the Extended Vision, Kepa Acera, who has been traveling the world, documenting various locations off the beaten path and finding some unreal surf along the way. Keep in mind, Kepa, is a one man band, shooting and editing on the road, even capturing his surf sessions by setting his tripod on the beach and paddling out…