Reel Talk with Ben Gulliver

Ben Gulliver has been making movies in a variety of genres for a while now, but what caught our eye was his parody-like treatment of  nature in his latest environmental surf documentary (a term he’s probably coined) The Fortune Wild. The film is part of his work with Canadian clothing company Sitka, and one of the first (and perhaps only) to delve into such “deep” subject matter. He’s off shooting all over the world now, but he took some time to tell us a bit about a new project he’s working on, what’s up with the Canadian surf scene, and a few pieces of gear that he really can’t live without. 

You mentioned you’ve been shooting all week. Are you at liberty to talk about this new project?

Yeah I was shooting a short comedy that, like most films I’ve made, took longer to shoot than we had anticipated — three days in fact. For a while now, I have been doing some collection videos for a clothing company. For the longest time we had filmed models in cool locations sort of just standing there and frolicking or what have you, but for the last couple seasons we’ve decided to take a narrative approach to these videos. I’m sure we’re not the first but I think it’s a fresh idea. So this one I was filming is part two of a three part series. The first one is called “Stranded” and is about two guys stuck on a island. You can check it out here:

We got chosen as a Vimeo Staff Pick for that film which shocked us and also gave us a little boost of confidence in our writing, since it is such a dialogue heavy piece. It has nothing to do with surfing. Stay tuned though because I’m excited about our little series. 

How long have you been making films for Sitka? Who else do you make movies for?

I started making skate videos with some Sitka homies when I was in University and slowly weaseled my way into shooting with the surf team, etc. It’s been about three years or more maybe? It’s been awesome because Sitka harbours some of the most talented skateboarders and surfers in Canada. The owner of the company is also open to new ideas and gets really involved with the production side which is a HUGE help when a small group of people with pretty much no money want to do something big(ger). Recently, I just took a trip to Tasmania shooting for “Seven Signs” which is the next Taylor Steele/ Nathan Meyers film. I went on a trip with Canadian Pete Devries and Asher Pacey from Australia. It was a fun trip. Film should be out after Christmas.

The Fortune Wild has huge emphasis on appreciating the natural world. Is that something you are seeking to do with all of your work, or was that unique to this piece?

I think it’s no secret we need to appreciate our planet and our surroundings no matter where we are. Sometimes people just want to watch surfing. Sometimes people want to watch enviro docs. I’m trying to make something in the middle that puts a bit of emphasis on how exciting it is to adventure and pay a bit of respect to where you visit but also to entertain and keep people wanting to watch without it being too preachy, for lack of a better word. I certainly don’t want all my films to be enviro doc surf films. It’s a lot of work and hurts my brain trying to make the edit flow. 

It seems like Canada is getting more recognition in the surf scene lately. Has there always been a surf culture there? Do you have any thoughts on why it might be blowing up now? 

People have been surfing here forever. I think people are tired of watching Indo clips all day. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll watch whatever but I think theres a large population of people who want to see exploration. Also, I think it’s because of Pete Devries. He’s an extremely talented, consistent surfer and he’s getting recognized internationally because he works hard. That’s the only way to get coverage here, by being on it with conditions, shooters, sponsors, editors blah blah, you know the drill. I think internationally people see him in full suit, booties and gloves with a snow capped mountain and bears in the background and they think that’s gnarly. It’s unique. Canada is great because we’ve been searching for new spots and haven’t even scratched the surface. 

How many surf films have you done so far?

2 – 22 minute films (Tipping Barrels & The Fortune Wild)

A large number of short edits, I’m not sure how many.

What are the three pieces of gear you can’t shoot without? 

35mm, 50mm, 100-400mm